News roundup - Friday, 20 January

Ljubljana, 20 January - Below is a roundup of major events on Friday, 20 January:

Minister sets out health reform

LJUBLJANA - Health Minister Danijel Bešič Loredan presented the first outlines of a planned healthcare reform, 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 key goal will be to re-establish the basic treatment of patients at primary level, but the preconditions for the reform are a public sector pay reform and a reform of the ZZZS public health insurance fund. He also outlined an analysis of the situation in healthcare, warning that, as expenditure is increasing faster than average pay or GDP, the system would run out of money in 15 years unless measures were taken.

Doctors welcome health reform plans

LJUBLJANA - The Medical Chamber welcomed the health reform plans presented by Health Minister Danijel Bešič Loredan. Doctors are happy that the plan is based on analysis and data, and that the minister promised to include all stakeholders and seek consensus on the measures. Its president Bojana Beović said that the analysis-based and tested measures and a broad consensus would guarantee success of several measures announced today.

Civil society unhappy with health reform plans

LJUBLJANA - The Voice of the People civil initiative is "appalled and concerned" about the the planned health reform. The group criticised Health Minister Danijel Bešič Loredan for failing to address the conflict of interest regarding the dual practice of doctors in public and private institutions; the financial imbalances that prompt doctors to leave the public system for the concessionaires, and "insurance policies that allow people to skip queues" and thereby undermine the equality of public healthcare.

Man dies in shooting incident in Ljubljana's Vič borough

LJUBLJANA - A man died in a shooting in the Vič borough in Ljubljana around 3pm this afternoon, as he succumbed to severe injuries soon after the police arrived at the scene, the Ljubljana Police Department said. Police are trying to track down the perpetrator, who is said to be a man, 170 centimetres high, wearing dark clothes, masked, and wearing a black hat, Ljubljana police said. According to unofficial information, the 34-year-old victim from Ljubljana was not a random target, as he was in a dispute with the Slovenian cell of the Montenegrin Kavač Clan.

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. The pair also discussed cooperation among EU states and partner organisations on the EU's humanitarian activities and Slovenia's cooperation in the EU's civil protection mechanism.

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.

Golob points to role of global products as he visits Hella Saturnus

LJUBLJANA - PM Robert Golob visited Hella Saturnus Slovenija, a German-owned car lighting maker in Ljubljana, where the management presented to him the company's global ambitions, investments, and new trends in the automotive industry. He said developing new global products was the right way for Slovenia's economy to develop. Golob was happy to hear about very ambitious plans about a EUR 100 million-plus investment already under way, and stressed the Slovenian economy cannot be based on cheap labour, but on knowledge. He was accompanied by Economy Minister Matjaž Han and Fiance Minister Klemen Boštjančič.

RTV Slovenija trade unions to step up strike on Tuesday

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 Tuesday, 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. After attending the opening on Thursday evening, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Irena Šinko hosted several meetings at the Slovenian stall, including the European Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski, German Agriculture Minister Cema Özdemir, Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey and representatives of German agricultural institutes. She will also attend a ministerial on global food systems on saturday.

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.

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.

Storage facility for Henkel opens in Hoče logistics centre

HOČE - A storage and distribution centre for the German chemical group Henkel, to be operated by Saubermacher Outsourcing, opened at the Hoče logistics centre near Maribor. Saubermacher Outsourcing, which entered a ten-year deal and hired 30 staff, will use it to store materials Henkel's Maribor factory needs for production. The facility was built by the Austrian company GoAsset Development, while Austrian Saubermacher, known as a sustainable waste disposal company but also active in logistics, invested EUR 5 million in further warehouse equipment and into rent expenses.

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.

Video games and e-sport festival coming to capital on 31 March

LJUBLJANA - Consumer electronic retailer Big Bang and marketing agency Sport Media Focus announced what they expect will develop into the biggest festival of video games and e-sport in Slovenia. The first edition of the Game Gang Show will be held between 31 March and 2 April at Ljubljana's fairgrounds. The organisers expect over 10,000 visitors, who will be able to try out over 100 gaming systems, while the e-sport segment will offer tournaments featuring several games. The total prize money will exceed EUR 10,000.

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.

Spain eliminate Slovenia from handball world championship

KRAKOW, Poland - Slovenia are out of the World Men's Handball Championship after losing to Spain in the second game of the main stage of the competition 26:31, losing a chance to make it into the quarter finals. This is the second defeat for Slovenia at the championships, having been outplayed by France in the group stage of the tournament. Slovenia will still play Montenegro on Sunday afternoon in what will be their last game at the championship.

© STA, 2023