News roundup - Tuesday, 14 February, until 3pm

Ljubljana, 14 February - Below is a roundup of major events on Tuesday, 14 February, until 3pm local time:

Slovenia's economy expanded by 5.4% in 2022

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's economy expanded by 5.4% last year, however by the last quarter of the year GDP growth slowed down to an annual rate of 0.2%, fresh data released by the Statistics Office shows. The office noted that most of GDP components grew at a faster rate in the first half of 2022 than they did in the second half. Growth was driven by final consumption expenditure and gross capital formation, while external trade had a negative impact because imports grew at a faster rate than exports.

Minister says Slovenia to receive first recovery funds by end of March

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia can expect the first funds from the EU recovery and resilience fund by the end of March, said Finance Minister Klemen Boštjančič as he arrived for a session of EU finance ministers in Brussels. He said Slovenia had "quite a few challenges" drawing the money. Slovenia sent the first application for some EUR 50 million in grants last October. Originally it was expected to receive the money in January, but the funds have not been transferred yet, because the country has not fulfilled all the conditions.

Boštjančič welcomes EU commission ideas for changes to fiscal rules

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Finance Minister Klemen Boštjančič welcomed in Brussels the European Commission's November guideline proposal for a reformed EU economic governance framework as heading in the right direction. Slovenia advocates more emphasis on monitoring debt level trends as opposed to structural fiscal variables. Boštjančič already said before the meeting of EU finance ministers that the Commission's proposal to change the EU's fiscal rules was moving in the right direction.

EUR 635m in fresh funds available for economy, tourism, sport

LJUBLJANA - As much as EUR 634.4 million in fresh financial incentives will be available to businesses, tourism and sport this year from the Ministry of the Economy, Tourism and Sport's own funds and in collaboration with other institutions in a bid to improve their competitiveness in the long run, Minister Matjaž Han told the press today.

Slovenia collecting bids to buy back two bond issues

LJUBLJANA - The treasury announced it was collecting bids for the repurchase of two government bond issues maturing at the end of March this year and on 9 September 2024 respectively. The offer is expected to be open until 20 February. Slovenia moreover announced plans to issue new euro bonds under market terms.

New court year starts as Đorđević takes over as Supreme Court president

LJUBLJANA - The start of the new judicial year was marked at Court Palace in Ljubljana with senior officials praising the progress the judiciary has made while pointing to the issues yet to be fully addressed, including low pay compared to other state officials, an issue that practically all speakers highlighted in their addresses. Previous Supreme Court President Damijan Florjančič said that courts had a positive year, having processed more cases than they received, worked quickly, and sped up digitalisation.

New Supreme Court head to intervene only amid serious disruptions

LJUBLJANA - Miodrag Đorđević said as he took over as the new president of the Supreme Court that he would get involved in the work of courts only if serious disruptions should occur. He sees the judiciary as the main pillar of the rule of law and thus expects judges to consistently react to violations of human rights. He will advocate for the appointment of judges to be transferred onto the Judicial Council.

Minister discusses cultural cooperation in Berlin

BERLIN, Germany - Culture Minister Asta Vrečko met with her German counterpart Claudia Roth on Monday as part of her two-day visit to Berlin. The ministers agreed there was great potential for stronger cultural relations between their countries. They focused on Slovenia's coming stint as the guest of honour at this year's Frankfurt Book Fair.

Wire fence to be removed by company that erected it

LJUBLJANA - The Interior Ministry has chosen Minis to remove the wire fence at the Slovenian-Croatian border, the same company that erected it in response to the refugee crisis in 2015, the newspaper Dnevnik reported. The company's EUR 7 million bid was more than three times higher than the lowest bid. The wire fence is to be removed in four years. Its erection cost the state some EUR 30 million, according to the last calculations available. Minis earned EUR 9 million erecting the fence.

Committee okays proposal reintroducing obligation to give out receipts

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Finance Committee endorsed a government-sponsored proposal to reintroduce a rule under which retail businesses are obliged to give out a receipt for goods or services provided and customers are required to accept it in a bid to tackle the grey economy. The rule was scrapped under the previous government.

Public sector trade unions ready to suspend protest rally

LJUBLJANA - The negotiating group of public sector trade unions said it was ready to temporarily suspend the "protest rally for decent pay" that was announced for 24 February. Since the government has started talks by presenting proposals for the pay system reform, the trade unions are willing to give the negotiations a chance, they said.

Trade union calls for pension increases

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Pensioners' Trade Union highlighted at a press conference the difficult situation pensioners face in light of inflation and food price hikes, calling on the government to green-light a 1% additional adjustment of pensions and a 4.4% extraordinary adjustment of pensions.

Health insurance fund assuaged by minister's corruption claim explanations

LJUBLJANA - Health Minister Danijel Bešič Loredan failed to provide members of the ZZZS assembly with the degree of detail they expected concerning the planned healthcare reform and the state-owned health insurer's role in it. ZZZS's representatives were meanwhile happier with his explanations regarding claims implicating ZZZS in corruption.

MEP Tomc alleges govt wages "war on media"

LJUBLJANA/BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenian MEP Romana Tomc (SDS/EPP) has written to the chair of the European Parliament's task force for democracy to allege that the Slovenian government is "waging war on the media and independent journalism," a charge the ruling party says is made up. Tomc claims public broadcaster RTV Slovenija is being subjected to attempts at political control.

Fmr Maribor mayor's party reportedly due to merge with SDS

MARIBOR/LJUBLJANA - The New People's Party (NLS), a party founded by former Maribor Mayor Franc Kangler, will shortly merge with the Democrats (SDS), the largest opposition party, Večer reported, saying that the move was driven by the desire to strengthen the SDS in Maribor, where it had been outperformed by Kangler's party at last year's local election.

Management overhaul at Intereuropa

KOPER - The logistics company Intereuropa, which is majority owned by the national postal company, will get new management and supervisors after the director general stepped down and the shareholders appointed new supervisors. Damijan Vajs tendered his resignation as director general after a year on the job. He will stay on until a new management is appointed, but not longer than until 3 June.

Energy crisis not affecting air quality for now

LJUBLJANA - Despite expectations to the contrary, the energy crisis has so far not significantly affected air quality in Slovenia, the Environment Agency (ARSO) told the STA. Although raised values of the harmful polluting particles PM10 were recorded in recent days, this is typical for sunny winter days without wind.

Citypark shopping centre investing in solar

LJUBLJANA - Citypark, the largest shopping centre in the country, will set up a 754 kW solar plant, worth EUR 1.3 million, in the coming months to cope with the energy crisis and reduce CO2 emissions, its manager Andrej Ropret told the press as Citypark marks its 21st anniversary.

Director of commercials to receive lifetime achievement award

LJUBLJANA - Jaka Judnič, an 80-year-old director and editor most known for his commercials, is this year's laureate of the Štiglic lifetime achievement award in film and theatre directing. He will receive the accolade given out by the Association of Slovenian Directors at a ceremony at the Slovenian Cinematheque on Thursday. He directed and edited more than 1,000 commercials for companies such as drinks companies Cocta and Fructal and national lottery operator Loterija Slovenije.

Exhibition dedicated to water and global issues opening at Jakopič Gallery

LJUBLJANA - A photo exhibition entitled Ripples: A Visual Diary of Water, which seeks to cast out the world's deeper, nuanced, transnational connections through the overarching theme of water to explore the climate crisis, human life and social inequality, will open at the Jakopič Gallery this evening to run until 4 June. It features water-themed works by 12 photographers of the Dutch photography agency NOOR Images, re-examining the conventions of gallery settings with their expensive frames, large formats and high-end display equipment.

© STA, 2023