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News roundup - Thursday, 12 August

Ljubljana, 12 August - Below is a roundup of major events on Thursday, 12 August:

Parts of Slovenia turn orange as 248 infections reported for Wednesday

LJUBLJANA - Another 248 people tested positive for coronavirus in Slovenia on Wednesday as test positivity rate hit 13.6%. The 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents rose to 88 and the 7-day average of new cases to 153, show figures from the National Institute of Public Health. An estimate of active cases rose to 1,900. Hospitalisations increased by four to 40. Western and central parts of Slovenia turned orange in the updated ECDC map, while the rest of the country remains green.

PLF filling not to be mandatory to enter Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - As Slovenia introduces the European Digital Passenger Locator Form on Monday for air and cruise ship passengers entering the country, the Health Ministry told the STA filling out the form will not be compulsory for the time being as no one will check whether passengers have filled out one or not. The National Institute of Public Health said its epidemiological service will use the data provided by passengers to contact them or their contacts in case of an infection.

Govt endorses joint border patrol accords with several countries

LJUBLJANA - The government endorsed technical agreements with Poland, Hungary, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia on joint patrols and other forms of joint action to manage illegal migration on Slovenia's border with Croatia. The agreements, closed by the Slovenian Interior Ministry and police with the corresponding authorities in the countries concerned. The agreements are seen as a way to prevent major challenges in anticipation of an increase in illegal migration.

Calls for tests for students to be made free

LJUBLJANA - Student associations called on the authorities to make rapid coronavirus testing free for students following the announcement that to attend lectures in-person students will either have to be vaccinated, recovered from Covid-19 or have a negative test. As free rapid antigen tests are to be scrapped on 16 August, tests will be paid for by employers for the staff who need them to do their job, but university and secondary school students will have to pay for them themselves.

Ruling released on unconstitutionality of parliamentary inquiry law

LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court published a ruling which finds the law and parliament's rules on parliamentary inquiry in contravention of the constitution because they interfere with independence and autonomy of state prosecutors. The court also annulled the parliament's July 2019 decision to launch a parliamentary inquiry into the many court proceedings of ex-Maribor Mayor Franc Kangler in the segment pertaining to prosecutors. The court ordered parliament to amend the law within a year.

Release of impairments boosts banking sector's H1 profit

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian banks generated a cumulative after-tax profit of EUR 226.4 million in the first half of the year, an increase of 84% compared with the same period last year due to a release of impairments and provisions. According to the monthly report released by Banka Slovenije, the combined pre-tax profit of banks in Slovenia rose by over 90% year-on-year to over EUR 251 million. Banks released EUR 26 million net in impairments after forming EUR 98.5 million a year ago.

NLB group ups half-year net profit by 90%

LJUBLJANA - The banking group NLB reported EUR 139.8 million in net profit for the first half of the year, a rise of 90% year-on-year, which came with a "visible contribution" from the NLB's latest acquisition, the Serbian bank Komercijalna Banka. Net interest income increased by 32% to EUR 198.6 million and net non-interest income was up 23% to EUR 135.3 million as EUR 19 million net impairments and provisions were released. Total assets were up 8% from January to EUR 21.187 billion.

Demand for new workers growing

LJUBLJANA - Job vacancies in Slovenia increased by almost 25% from the first quarter to over 20,500 in the second quarter of the year. The strongest demand for workers was in the hospitality sector and in culture and entertainment. The country's vacancy rate thus rose to a quarterly record of 2.6%, the Statistics Office reported. Despite lockdown restrictions in place until mid-May employers started looking for workers more intensively after an almost six-month lull.

Interior minister and police trade union exchange some harsh words

LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs and a police trade union got entangled in a harsh exchange of words as Hojs rejected the union's allegations that he and Police Commissioner Anton Olaj should be blamed for what was seen as lack of police protection in front of the National Assembly. "Dear trade unionists, start working in the police, and stop politicising and looking for excuses," the minister said, later calling the union "lazy bones".

Reserved response as Šarec calls for post-election alliance

LJUBLJANA - Marjan Šarec, the former Prime Minister and leader of the LMŠ party, called on the remaining three centre-left opposition parties to sign an agreement on post-election cooperation in a bid to form a government without the Democrats (SDS) of PM Janez Janša or the parties supporting them. While the SocDems and the Left welcomed the call in principle, SocDem leader Tanja Fajon said winning over Janša should not be the sole ambition. The Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) criticised Šarec for staging a solo act.

Youth grappling with mental distress, precarious work

LJUBLJANA - On International Youth Day, the Youth Council of Slovenia warned about mental distress of the young and precarious forms of work. With the Covid-19 pandemic aggravating the situation, it is getting increasingly difficult for the young to gain independence, they cannot access housing, they are exposed to precarious forms of work and their mental distress is getting worse, the organisation said. There were some 310,600 people aged between 15 and 29 in Slovenia at the beginning of the year.

© STA, 2021