News roundup - Friday, 20 January, until 3pm

Ljubljana, 20 January - Below is a roundup of major events on Friday, 20 January, until 3pm local time:

Minister sets out health reform

LJUBLJANA - Health Minister Danijel Bešič Loredan presented the first outlines of a healthcare reform planned by the government, announcing that Slovenia would abolish top-up health insurance at the beginning of 2025. The government will be following the Finnish and Estonian models in trying to achieve effective, digitised and sustainable healthcare. The minister also presented an analysis of healthcare, warning that, as expenditure is increasing at a faster rate than average pay or GDP, the system would run out of money in 15 years unless measures were taken.

Fajon in Davos: Slovenia a social and green country committed to peace

DAVOS, Switzerland - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon concluded her attendance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where she participated in a number discussions and held bilateral meetings focused on garnering support for Slovenia's UN Security Council bid in 2024-2025. She presented Slovenia as a modern, social and green country, committed to international peace, security and stability. Fajon, who arrived in Davos on Tuesday, is the first Slovenian foreign minister to have been invited to the forum.

President, Commissioner Lenarčič discuss humanitarian aid, civil protection

LJUBLJANA - President Nataša Pirc Musar and European Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič discussed humanitarian aid and the EU's civil protection mechanism as their held their first meeting. The president underlined the importance of solidarity, a key principle of the EU, her office said in a press release.

Petrol in the red in 2022 on record revenue

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's energy group Petrol was hit hard by the energy crisis and governments' price capping policies last year with the preliminary unaudited estimate released by the company showing it posted a net loss of EUR 12.1 million on a record EUR 9.4 billion in sales revenue. The preliminary results are a major deviation from Petrol's business plan for 2022, which projected for the group to post a net profit of EUR 158.3 million. The sales are 56% above the target.

EUR 3.5bn investment planned in electricity distribution system

LJUBLJANA - The electricity distribution system operator SODO has received the go-ahead from the Energy Agency to implement its 2032 plan to invest EUR 3.5 billion in development. Most of the sum will go to the low- and medium-voltage networks. The 2023-2032 development plan addresses the challenges posed by decarbonisation, decentralisation of electricity generation and the mass introduction of electrification or the use of electricity as the main energy product in transport or heating.

RTV Slovenija trade unions to step up strike on Monday

LJUBLJANA - The journalist trade unions of RTV Slovenija announced that they will step up next week their effort as part of the strike that started last May, as the talks to address their grievances had produced no solutions in seven months. The journalists and other creators of content at the public broadcaster, as well as the editorial staff of the MMC web portal will strike for 24 hours on the job on Monday, providing the minimum of the service defined by law that ensures the safety of people and property, and meeting their international obligations. The management deems the strike as unlawful and will seek conformation of this in court.

Committee fails to endorse changes allowing tracking of goods

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Finance Committee failed to endorse amendments to the Financial Administration act that introduce the possibility of using devices to track goods after the upper chamber vetoed the bill. Like at the plenary in December, only MPs of the Freedom Movement voted in four. The National Assembly is to take a re-vote on the bill next week. Meanwhile, the committee endorsed unanimously a bill under which Slovenia will provide EUR 12.5 million in guarantees to Ukraine.

Slovenia part of Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate

DAVOS, Switzerland - The EU and over two dozen partner countries have launched a Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate at the World Economic Forum in Davos, an initiative which has also been endorsed by Slovenia, the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology said. The European Commission has dubbed this "the first ministerial-level global forum dedicated to trade and climate and sustainable development issues".

Slovenia breaks ground for its first geothermal plant on gas well

LENDAVA - An event marked the official start of construction of Slovenia's pilot geothermal power station on an abandoned gas well in the Lendava municipality in northeastern Slovenia. The EUR 1.2 million investment is estimated to provide 400 megawatt hours of electricity a year. Presenting the project SI-Geo-Electricity, DEM, the company operating hydro power stations on the river Drava, said if the pilot project in the village Čentiba proves to be viable, the same concept could be used on other abandoned wells in Slovenia and abroad.

AmCham event debates staff shortages

LJUBLJANA - An AmCham event highlighted securing the necessary human resources as crucial for the development of the economy and society. The participants pointed in particular to the shortage of IT professionals. They called for a social agreement and for changes, including in taxation, education, investment and innovation. AmCham Slovenija head Blaž Brodnjak, NLB bank chairman, noted that Croatian companies hired thousands of staff from the Philippines and Nepal. He said Slovenian needed to decide whether it is willing to open up as society.

Slovenian wines and cuisine at International Green Week

BERLIN, Germany - The International Green Week, one of the world's largest trade fairs, started in Berlin with Slovenia presenting itself as a green and environmentally-friendly country. Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Irena Šinko is at the fair, where she will also attend a ministerial on global food systems. Slovenia's stall features three wine-growing regions, viticulture, winemaking, and world-class cuisine, with special emphasis on apiculture and tourism.

Basic food products now cheapest since September

LJUBLJANA - A website that compares the retail prices of basic food products, which was launched on 19 September in a bid to discourage retailers from excessive price hikes, has produced a tenth round of price comparison. On average, the prices are the lowest yet and have dropped by 17% since the first round. Out of the six retailers included in the tracking, Lidl offered the selected products at the lowest price of EUR 39.06, followed by Spar (EUR 39.43) and Hofer (EUR 39.79).

Consumer confidence deteriorates

LJUBLJANA - After three months of growth, Slovenia's consumer confidence index dropped by four percentage points in January compared to December and by 13 points compared to the long-term average, fresh data from the Statistics Office show. The index is down 11 points year-on-year. All four components of the index fell, both monthly and year-on-year. The biggest decline since December and since January last year is how consumers see their current household finances.

Planned construction of homes up 11% in 2022

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia issued slightly more than 6,300 building permits in 2022, 6% fewer than the year before. Under the permits, nearly 4,800 homes are planned to be built, 11% more than in 2021, the Statistics Office reported. Permits for residential buildings increased by 5% last year, whereas permits for non-residential buildings dropped by 15%. The total surface area of buildings is expected to increase by 8% after constructions that were green-lit in 2022 are completed.

Stakeholders regret merger of two contemporary era museums

LJUBLJANA - After the government merged the Museum of Slovenian Independence with the National Museum of Contemporary History to create a new museum, the heads of both institutions and of a rightist association promoting the values of Slovenian independence regretted the decision. They want further discussion regarding the matter. Lojze Peterle, head of the Association for the Values of Slovenian Independence, and prime minister at the time of independence, said the decision deepens polarisation in the country.

Tiktok introducing govt-affiliated media label in Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - The social networking platform Tiktok is expanding its state-affiliated media policy from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus to 40 new countries, including Slovenia. The company intends to introduce the policy across all markets, with the EU being a part of the first stage of introduction. In assessing editorial independence, Tiktok takes into account a number of things, including "editorial practices and safeguards, leadership and editorial governance, and [the organisation's] actual editorial decisions.

"Firefighter" word of the year, "everything is in our hands" sign of the year

LJUBLJANA - The word of the year 2022 is firefighter and the the sign language gesture of the year is "everything is in our hands", the Research Centre (ZRC) of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU) announced. Firefighter received the most votes from the public (1,032), reflecting the role of firefighters in wildfires in the Kras region last summer. It was followed by Freedom, the name of the senior coalition party, and the cost-of-living crisis, draginja in Slovenian.

Slovenian artist wins Music Moves Europe award

GRONINGEN, Netherlands - Slovenian artist July Jones is one of the five recipients of the Music Moves Europe Award, handed out as part of the Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) festival in the Dutch village of Groeningen. The award, which comes with a EUR 10,000 prize, is to support artists in their careers. "July Jones is about as 'fresh and current' as you can get, mixing pop, hip-hop beats, polished production and songs that are statements about personal identity," the jury said.

Ilka Šthec second in Cortina d'Ampezzo downhill

CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy - Slovenian skier Ilka Štuhec placed second in the downhill race in Cortina d'Ampezzo for her second podium this winter. Skiing on an injured ankle, she was only 0.13 seconds slower than the winner, Sofia Goggia from Italy. German Kira Weidle was third, lagging behind Goggia by 0.36 seconds. The Maribor skier climbed to second place in the downhill World Cup rankings, while Goggia remains firmly at the top.

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