News roundup - Thursday, 12 January

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

Monthly minimum wage rising to EUR 878 net in 2023

LJUBLJANA - The minimum wage in Slovenia will be EUR 100 net higher this year than last year, meaning that every minimum wage earner will take home EUR 878 a month, Labour Minister Luka Mesec said after the government session. The nearly 13% increase is the heftiest minimum wage rise in the past decade. Last October, the minimum cost of living was calculated for the first time in five years, at EUR 670, while annual inflation hit 10.3% in December.

Electricity and gas providers to get compensation

LJUBLJANA - The government decided to help out all electricity and natural gas providers with compensation for having to sell energy at capped prices. Infrastructure Minister Bojan Kumer said that the measure was worth between 340 and 350 million euro at the annual level. The regulations set the criteria for eligibility, the manner and procedure of payment, while authorising electricity market operator Borzen to be in charge of paying out the compensation.

Govt adopts bill to boost air connectivity with new subsidies

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a bill envisaging EUR 5.6 million in state aid to secure better air connectivity, which Infrastructure Ministry State Secretary Alenka Bratušek said experienced substantial decline in the past two years. The aid scheme remains to be approved by the European Commission.

Minister announces major air force investments

CERKLJE OB KRKI - Defence Minister Marjan Šarec announced major investments in the air force as he addressed a ceremony marking Slovenian Military Aviation Day at the Cerklje ob Krki military base. Several hirings are also planned at the airport that is undergoing renovation. He announced investment into a new fleet, new capabilities and primarily the construction of a hangar for a new transport aircraft that is expected to arrive this year. To make sure at least one aircraft is available at all times, another transport aircraft is to be purchased, he said.

Part of criminal procedure act declared unconstitutional

LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court has unanimously declared as unconstitutional the part of the criminal procedure act which does not permit a convict to propose that their prison sentence be postponed or suspended as they file an appeal on a point of law. The National Assembly has one year to remedy the unconstitutionality. The provisions were challenged by a man who appealed a two-year prison sentence on a point of law and ended up serving the sentence before his appeal been decided on.

Govt greenlights strike-averting deal with doctors

LJUBLJANA - The government confirmed the strike-averting agreement reached with the doctors' trade union Fides a day before the strike. The promised new pay tier for the healthcare sector will need to be created within the public sector by next year or doctors' wages will be negotiated on in separate talks. The goal is for the separate pay tier to be set up by 1 April. The first round of talks is scheduled for 25 January, said Petra Bezjak Cirman from the Government Communication Office.

Speaker wraps up two-day visit to Austria

VIENNA, Austria - Parliamentary Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič wrapped up her two-day visit to Austria by attending the opening ceremony of the renovated building of the country's federal parliament. She also held informal meetings with representatives of several countries and met Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen. Yesterday, she met minority official Susanne Weitlaner, promising she would insist in her bilateral meetings with Austrian officials on consistent protection of the entire Slovenian minority in Austria.

Mayors take issue with bonuses for judges and prosecutors

MARIBOR - The Association of Municipalities and Towns, one of the country's three local government associations, took issue with what it perceives as the government selectively distributing bonuses to some officials in the public sector. If their voice is not heard, local officials will fight for fair valuation of their work, the association said. The protest letter was addressed to PM Robert Golob two days after he announced a EUR 600 gross monthly bonus for judges and prosecutors.

Pošta promises to improve conditions, pay for postal workers

LJUBLJANA - Pošta Slovenije responded to the grievances expressed by postal workers regarding proper financing of the universal postal service, frequent burnout and inadequate pay. It said the universal postal service is regulated by the state and that it would strive to improve working conditions and ensure stimulative pay.

Bratušek to focus on rail infrastructure, issues in aviation

LJUBLJANA - Alenka Bratušek highlighted at her confirmation hearing "safe, green and digital" as the goals that will guide her as infrastructure minister. Bratušek, who was confirmed by the parliamentary committee in a 9:5 vote, singled out investments in railway infrastructure as vital in the pursuit of sustainability. The former prime minister, who has been serving as state secretary at the Infrastructure Ministry that she also led from 2018 to 2020, said the ministry would spend EUR 486 million on railway infrastructure this year, 55% more than last year.

Felda advocates digitalisation, overhaul of pre-school, primary education

LJUBLJANA - Darjo Felda, the candidate for education minister, was cleared by the relevant parliamentary committee in a 9:5 vote. He pointed out digitalisation and a reform of the curriculum in kindergartens and first three years of primary school as top priorities. Felda, currently a state secretary at the Education Ministry, told the committee that more emphasis should be put on lifelong learning and special measures should be taken to include Roma children in pre-school education.

Report: German company buys Beti's debt

LJUBLJANA - After struggling for years, Beti, a leading European manufacturer of dyed polyamide yarns, broke even last year and has managed to sell its debt to a strategic investor. According to unofficial information obtained by the newspaper Dnevnik, the investor is associated with German company Medi&Co. The Germans are reportedly also interested in buying a share in Beti, but its sole owner, Viktor Kozjan, would not comment on this for the paper.

New Covid variant XBB found in Slovenia, no additional measures planned

LJUBLJANA - The National Laboratory for Health, Environment and Food has so far confirmed seven cases of infections with the new Covid variant XBB in Slovenia. After Tuesday's meeting, the Covid task force at the National Institute of Public Health said no additional epidemiological measures were required for now, but the developments in relation to XBB.1.5 would be closely monitored.

International drug smuggling ring dismantled, reports say

LJUBLJANA - Together with their Austrian counterparts, Slovenian investigators have dismantled a drug smuggling ring that had reportedly been active mainly in Slovenia and Austria. Charges have been filed against nearly 50 ring members and the prosecution has requested investigation into 35 suspects, newspapers Dnevnik and Večer reported. The ring included two criminal organisations that were allegedly part of an international ring originating from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia.

Slovenians are most worried about price hikes

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The rising costs of living worry 88% of Slovenians and 93% of Europeans, a Eurobarometer survey showed. More than half of Slovenians are unhappy with measures to mitigate the crisis. Besides the rising costs of living, climate change and the threat of poverty and social exclusion concern Slovenians the most, worrying around 75% of the population.

E-records of working hours introduced for offender companies

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted legislative changes that aim to curb violations of working hours provisions, including by introducing mandatory electronic records of working hours for companies that have been fined for violating labour legislation. Such records will enable workers to have real-time insight into the number of working hours and overtime, said Labour Minister Luka Mesec. "This way they will also make sure that these hours are paid fairly."

Pelješac Bridge chief designer is Delo's person of the year

LJUBLJANA - Marjan Pipenbaher, the chief designer of the Pelješac Bridge in Croatia, was declared the person of the year by the newspaper Delo, which noted that Pipenbaher is one of the most renowned European bridge builders and designers. The editorial board of Delo said on the occasion that Pipenbaher was the chief designer of more than 200 bridges and viaducts in Slovenia and abroad.

New production of Giselle opens at Cankarjev Dom

LJUBLJANA - A ballet production of Giselle premiered at Ljubljana's Cankarjev Dom tonight in a co-production with the national opera and ballet company that has been choreographed by Jose Carlos Martinez, the new director of ballet at the Paris Opera. The Spanish choreographer has added a contemporary touch to the classic, and the production will run until 28 January.

MEP Joveva calls on Apple to provide Slovenian language interface

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian MEP Irena Joveva addressed a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, calling on him to introduce a unified approach to all official languages of the EU and to provide the possibility of choosing the Slovenian language option on Apple devices and operating systems.

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