News roundup - Wednesday, 18 January

Ljubljana, 18 January - Below is a roundup of major events on Wednesday, 18 January:

Golob: Coalition members to sign commitment to reform healthcare

BRDO PRI KRANJU - A coalition summit dedicated exclusively to healthcare agreed that all of its participants, including MPs, will sign a commitment to cooperate on a health reform, PM Robert Golob told the press at Brdo pri Kranju. He said that a time frame for new legislation and its implementation will be ready by Thursday. In two weeks' time, the coalition will meet for another summit to discuss the remaining five reforms, and then an annex to the coalition agreement will be drafted with a time frame for all the reforms.

Pirc Musar and ruling party talk strategic issues

LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar launched a series of meetings with parliamentary parties by meeting Prime Minister Robert Golob as the leader of the Freedom Movement and the party's deputy group leader Borut Sajovic. The focus was on strategic topics around which consensus needs to be built, Pirc Musar's office said. The officials exchanged views on potential constitutional amendments to reform the electoral system, and appointments of judges, ministers and other officials.

Slovenian officials shaken by deadly helicopter crash near Kyiv

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Robert Golob and Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said they were shocked by the helicopter crash in which Ukraine's interior ministry leadership was killed this morning. Minister Denys Monastyrsky was en route to a war "hot spot" when his helicopter came down near a nursery in an eastern suburb of the capital Kyiv. Golob expressed condolences to the families of the victims, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, and Fajon said that the crash was a terrible tragedy and that she was saddened by the loss of many lives.

Public sector trade unions threaten to protest on 24 February

LJUBLJANA - Several public sector trade unions called on the government to come up with a solution to pay challenges, eliminate pay disparities among various groups, and preserve the public sector pay system, or else they will organise a protest rally for decent pay on 24 February. The negotiation group headed by Jakob Počivavšek said that for the past two months the government had ignored the deadline set for starting talks to overhaul the pay system and to address pay compression in one third of the pay brackets at the bottom of the pay scale.

Pensioners demand at least 7% pension rise

LJUBLJANA - The Union of Pensioners' Associations (ZDUS) proposed that pensions increase by at least 7.1% in February instead of the planned 4.9%. Given the inflation, the union expects the government and the pension fund to grant the request. ZDUS also proposed that pensioners receive a crisis bonus. The 2012 pension reform was drafted amid a big economic crisis and deflation. The model for calculating annual pension rises did not envisage such high inflation as Slovenia has now, they said.

Slovenia records highest construction growth in EU year-on-year

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia saw the largest increase in construction work volumes of any EU country in annual comparison in November 2022, Eurostat data shows. The country's construction expanded by 44%, compared to an increase of 1.3% in the EU and 1.8% in the eurozone. Meanwhile, in monthly comparison, Slovenia saw the largest drop in construction of any EU or eurozone country. Its volume of construction work dropped by 3.4% in November over October, compared to the -0.8% and -0.4% averages for the EU and eurozone, respectively.

New migration and integration strategies in the making

LJUBLJANA - The Interior Ministry announced a new migration strategy that will be supported by an integration strategy, as Slovenia is facing a shortage of workforce. The document is expected to be ready for adoption in the first quarter of the year. Changes to the foreigners act are also being drafted to facilitate employment of foreigners. The migration strategy was presented by Public Administration Minister Sanja Ajanović Hovnik in her capacity as the stand-in minister of the interior.

Economy minister meets Italian Space Agency boss to discuss cooperation

LJUBLJANA - Economy Minister Matjaž Han met Italian Space Agency (ASI) president Giorgio Saccoccia to discuss cooperation opportunities in the space industry as a Slovenian-Italian business forum was held in Ljubljana. The pair said that space provides many opportunities as it is becoming increasingly important for the economy. The forum was organised by the ministry and the ASI to identify opportunities for new partnerships and strengthen the existing ties between companies in the sector.

Slovenia remains attractive to Austrian investors despite shortcomings, survey shows

LJUBLJANA - Austrian investors still feel Slovenia offers good investment opportunities, according to a survey commissioned by Advantage Austria Ljubljana, the trade promotion organisation of the Austrian Economic Chamber. Red tape, high taxes, and lack of skilled workers were highlighted as major setbacks. The online survey carried out in the last quarter of 2022 among 55 Austrian-owned companies showed that 78% of the companies see Slovenia as an attractive destination for investors, a percentage point down year-on-year but 7 up on 2021. Compared to the pre-pandemic 2019, the score is down by 13 points.

DARS switching motorway lights back on

LJUBLJANA - After shutting off lights at motorway sections where the law permits this almost three months ago to save energy, motorway company DARS has now decided to switch them back on, finding the risks of such energy saving are too big. As of today, motorways and expressways around the country are fully lit again. More than 60% of lights along these roads were shut off at the end of last October to save some EUR 700,000.

Ljubljana Castle reaches million visitor milestone last year

LJUBLJANA - Ljubljana Castle last year saw slightly more than a million visitors, more than double the figure in each of the previous two years, which were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Sales of tickets for the funicular that takes visitors up to the Castle Hill also more than doubled last year. The 2022 visitor counter stopped at 1,004,349 visitors, which compares to 460,355 visitors in 2021, said the public organisation Ljubljanski Grad that operates the castle.

Train derails near Novo Mesto, some passengers injured

LJUBLJANA - A train derailed on Tuesday evening because of fallen trees on the railway track between Ljubljana and Metlika in the south-east near Novo Mesto. According to the national railway operator Slovenske Železnice, five out of seven passengers sustained light injuries and have already been released from hospital. The track remains closed until further notice.

Slovenian company develops dementia screening test

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian neuroscience company BrainTrip presented a new dementia screening test with a 94% accuracy. As part of a project called Pomni (Remember), BrainTrip screened around 250 individuals in Slovenia and found that the BrainTrip Dementia Index or BDI test, which can directly measure brain activity, performed the best. An early diagnosis of the disease can increase treatment options, experts say.

Slovenia open main round at handball world by beating Iran

KRAKOW, Poland - Slovenia opened the main round of the World Men's Handball Championship with a 38:21 convincing win against Iran in Krakow to stay in play for the quarter-finals of the tournament. A much tougher opponent awaits Slovenia on Friday as they play Spain, the bronze medallists from the previous world championship. Slovenia showed who is who in the match in Tauron Arena already in the first half, controlling the game and going for a break with an eleven-goal lead (20:9).

© STA, 2023