News roundup - Monday, 16 January

Ljubljana, 16 January - Below is a roundup of major events on Monday, 16 January:

N-plant gets environmental permit for life span extension

KRŠKO - Slovenia's sole nuclear power station has been granted an environmental permit, a key condition for the extension of its life span by another 20 years, to 2043. The permit, issued by the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, concludes the environmental impact assessment procedure conducted at the Krško nuclear power plant (NEK) after last year's scheduled maintenance during which it was upgraded to remain operational for another 20 years. The procedure entailed assessments of seismic safety, safety improvements, efforts to reduce the likelihood of environmental disasters, resilience to climate change and external factors, and the impact on water in the light of the warming trend of watercourses in eastern Slovenia. All four neighbouring countries and Germany participated in the cross-border consultations.

FM assures Kosovo of further support in EU, NATO accession efforts

PRISHTINA, Kosovo - During her first official visit to Kosovo on Monday, Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon vowed Slovenia's further support in Kosovo's EU and NATO accession efforts and in its integration into regional and international alliances. She announced stepping up Slovenia's presence in KFOR and EULEX and urged normalisation of Kosovo-Serbia relations. Fajon met Kosovo's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora Donika Gervalla-Schwarz to discuss efforts to boost bilateral relations, notably economic cooperation, as well as President Vjosa Osmani, Speaker Glauk Konjufca and Prime Minister Albin Kurti, as she concluded the Western Balkans tour.

Financial Administration staff announce strike for 13 February

LJUBLJANA - The staff at the Financial Administration (FURS) plan to go on strike on 13 February as the latest group of public sector employees to demand higher pay and additional bonuses. The Trade Union of Customs Officers said the strike will last until their demands are met. Their principal demand is an increase in wages by five brackets for all FURS employees, mirroring what doctors have sought in the negotiations with the government that have recently ended in a strike-averting agreement. The FURS leadership said the strike will definitely upset work processes, but FURS is obligated to provide certain services also during a strike.

Economists say pay rises increase risk to fiscal stability

LJUBLJANA - The rise in the minimum wage and more and more pay rise demands in the public sector are putting an increasing strain on public finances, economists Matej Lahovnik and Davorin Kračun warned, with Lahovnik finding it surprising that the government agreed to piecemeal pay rises after it announced an overhaul of the public sector pay system. Both fear the budget deficit would get out of control, with Kračun, who chairs the Fiscal Council, saying "there's great uncertainty, great inflation, we don't know what the actual GDP growth will be". Lahovnik said that raising the minimum wage is also problematic as it further reduces the differences between wages, which could reduce employees' motivation to work.

Consultation discusses 2040 military resolution

LJUBLJANA - The Defence Ministry hosted a consultation on a draft 2040 resolution on long-term development of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) at the National Council, which is to replace the one adopted last year. Minister Marjan Šarec said the overhaul was needed because the security situation in Europe had changed dramatically, and due to bigger ambitions in terms of military development. The document provides a faster timeline for achieving defence spending goals, with Slovenia expected to reach 2% of GDP spending for defence by 2030. Plans for military reserve and for military education were also presented, with the ministry mulling founding a military academy.

PM wants entire coalition on board for reforms

CELJE - PM Robert Golob announced efforts to sign an annex to the coalition agreement in which all ministers and coalition MPs would commit to the upcoming reforms, especially the health reform. He expects an annex to the coalition agreement to be agreed on at Wednesday's coalition meeting at Brdo pri Kranju. "If we want the health reform to succeed, it has to have the support of the entire government coalition," he said on the sidelines of a visit to Celje.

Regular petrol more expensive from midnight

LJUBLJANA - Off motorways, where fuel prices are regulated and adjusted biweekly, the price of regular petrol will rise by 1.2 cents to EUR 1.288 per litre on Tuesday, while diesel will remain unchanged at EUR 1.483, and so will heating oil, at EUR 1.115 per litre, the Economy Ministry said. The new prices will be in force through 30 January.

Top officials urge improved animal protection

LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar, PM Robert Golob and National Council President Marko Lotrič took part in a discussion on animal rights hosted by National Assembly Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič to call for an improved animal protection. The discussion, entitled For the Better Future of Animals, urged animal-friendly measures that would take into account both farm animals and pets. Klakočar Zupančič said the animal protection act will be most likely amended this term as the proposed changes are currently being coordinated among coalition partners. Slovenia may also soon become one of the few EU countries with a farm animal rescue.

Slovenia finally gets first significant snowfall

LJUBLJANA/KRANJ/CELJE - After an unseasonably warm start to the winter, Slovenia finally received its first noteworthy snowfall this morning, wreaking havoc on morning traffic on motorways and around urban areas and roads and motorways. Being heavy and wet, the snow caused power outages and blocked roads, especially in the mountainous northern regions, but also in the areas of Ljubljana and Celje and in the northern part of Primorska region.

Govt supporters in minority in Vox Populi poll

LJUBLJANA - The proportion of those who are unhappy with the government's job (47.3%) has exceeded the share of supporters (46.1%) for the first time since the Robert Golob cabinet took office on 1 June in the latest Vox Populi poll. The newspaper Dnevnik notes that voter approval rating for Golob's government peaked in September at 58% but the upward trend started revesring in December after Golob fell out with then Interior Minister Tatjana Bobnar. The rating of Golob's Freedom Movement also fell, to 27.8%. SDS MP Anže Logar, the former foreign minister and presidential candidate, meanwhile made it to the top of popularity ratings of serving politicians.

Survey detects interest in housing co-ops in Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA - A survey conducted by Ninamedia and NGO Institute for Housing Studies has shown that about 26% of adult residents of Ljubljana would be interested in joining a housing cooperative. Among the 1,000 people included in the survey, 90% agreed that rents in Ljubljana are too high and think they should stand at some EUR 7.18 per square metre, which is half the current price, said Anja Lazar from the NGO, who is also a member of the Zadrugator cooperative. Currently, three pilot projects are under way, but the main obstacle is legislation.

Survey shows nearly half cut back on living expenses

LJUBLJANA - Almost half of Slovenians, or 45%, have cut back on certain living expenses in recent months due to price hikes, and 30% plan to do the same in the coming months, a recent Mediana survey indicates. The 45% share is below the global average of people actively living more frugally amid the cost-of-living crisis (48%), and down 9 percentage points on the EU average of 54%, polling company Mediana said. The agency conducted the survey as part of the global counterpart WIN International.

Lactalis suspends supply to Mercator in pricing dispute

LJUBLJANA - Retailer Mercator and Lactalis, the French owner of Slovenia's biggest dairy company, Ljubljanske Mlekarne, are engaged in a pricing dispute. Lactalis halted supply to the country's biggest grocer after Mercator failed to comply with its request to increase the price of milk. In a statement for N1, Ljubljanske Mlekarne accused Mercator of not having "accepted a wholesale price increase announced for early November, but still increased the product's shelf price". Mercator told the STA that Lactalis had sent it 20 different price increase requests over the course of 2022, with some hikes reaching 74% year-on-year. Each of the requests was accompanied with the threat that supply would be suspended, Mercator added. Still, both said they would try to resolve the dispute.

Telekom, and POP TV and Kanal A end dispute

LJUBLJANA - Telekom Slovenije, the state-owned telecoms operator, and the commercial TV channels POP TV and Kanal A seem to have resolved their dispute over Telekom's distribution of POP TV and Kanal A programmes in its TV packages, at least as far as the court is concerned. Telekom said the Ljubljana District Court had sent it a decision today saying it had ended the proceedings regarding POP TV and Kanal A's lawsuit against Telekom as a result of Telekom's withdrawal of its suit. When Telekom took POP TV and Kanal A to court at the end of 2021, it wanted to nullify the agreement under which it paid to include POP TV and Kanal A in its TV package and demanded a refund of EUR 12.4 million in "unfair and excessive" payments from mid-November 2017. At the time it was said the agreement would expire at the end of 2022.

Impol digitalising business processes

SLOVENSKA BISTRICA - Slovenia's largest aluminium producer Impol has launched a new project, which aims to digitally transform the company's business processes. Dubbed INDIGO, the project is expected to be completed within two years and is valued at EUR 4 million, with the state chipping in half of the sum. The Slovenska Bistrica-based company signed in December an agreement with the Economy Ministry to co-fund the project, project manager Denis Špelič noted as he presented it to reporters.

Passenger figures at Ljubljana airport double in 2022

FRANKFURT, Germany - Ljubljana airport, which is operated by German-owned Fraport Slovenija, recorded 970,152 passengers in 2022, double the figure from 2021, but still 43.6% below the pre-pandemic 2019, according to the business results released by Fraport AG. In December 2022 alone, Ljubljana airport saw passenger numbers increase by 33.7% year-on-year to reach 60,518.

Two hotels in Ljubljana rebranded as Ibis Styles hotels

LJUBLJANA - Together with the hotel chain Acoor, the Mogotel Hotel Group opened its first two Ibis Styles hotels in Slovenia as it rebranded the Central Hotel and The Fuzzy Log hotels in Ljubljana's city centre. By acquiring the two hotels, the Mogotel Hotel Group launched its first Accor hotels in Slovenia. The acquisition is part of a franchise contract signed by the Mogotel Group and Accor. The two plan to expand their cooperation with different projects worldwide.

SSH urged to act over Hoteli Bernardin's outsourcing of chambermaids

LJUBLJANA - The Labour Ministry has urged manager of state assets Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) to act against outsourcing of chambermaids after the trade union of employees in the hospitality and tourism sector warned that services of chambermaids at Hoteli Bernardin, a chain of hotels on the Slovenian coast, are mostly outsourced. Hoteli Bernardin are part of Sava Turizem, the largest tourist group in the country, which is owned by Sava, whose 90% is in the hands of SSH and state-owned fund KAD. Sava Turizem currently outsources some 300 chambermaids, keeping only about 40 maids employed at Hoteli Bernardin.

Slovenia lose against France at handball worlds

KATOWICE, Poland - Slovenia lost against France 31:35 (14:16) in their last match in the preliminary round of the World Men's Handball Championship to finish second in group B. The Slovenian team will play their first match in the main part of the competition in Krakow on 18 January against the third best team from group A.

Peugeot 308 Slovenian car of 2023

NOVO MESTO - The Peugeot 308 was awarded the Slovenian Car of 2023 title at a ceremony in Novo Mesto on Sunday. The Opel Astra ranked second and the Toyota Corolla Cross third. This is the second such title for Peugeot in the past six years after the Peugeot 3008 won in 2017. Another win for the brand was in 2002 when the Peugeot 307, the precursor of this year's winner, took home the title. Last year, the title went to the Toyota Yaris Cross.

© STA, 2023