News roundup - Wednesday, 5 April

Ljubljana, 5 April - Below is a roundup of major events on Wednesday, 5 April:

Slovenia sticks to open-door policy regarding Ukraine's NATO bid

BRUSSELS, Belgium - When it comes to Ukraine's potential NATO accession Slovenia sticks to an open-door policy, Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said after a two-day NATO meeting. Currently, there is no discussion on an Ukrainian NATO bid and this is not expected to change any time soon, she added. During the meeting, Fajon highlighted the importance of accountability for finding all those responsible for atrocities and horrific crimes committed due to Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Fajon discusses UN Security Council bid with Blinken

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon remains moderately optimistic about Slovenia's bid for the UN Security Council ahead of the final stage of the campaign, she told reporters after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers. On the sidelines of the ministerial, she briefly spoke about the bid with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Macedonian Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani and her New Zealand counterpart Nanaia Mahuta. Blinken said on Twitter that he and Fajon discussed the "NATO Alliance, collective security, our unwavering support for Ukraine, and holding Russia to account for its brutal war".

Doctors present their own healthcare reform proposal

LJUBLJANA - The Medical Chamber presented its proposal for legislative changes to improve the accessibility of healthcare services. It wants healthcare institutions to become public companies owned by the state or municipalities, which it believes would improve competition. They propose that the existing concession system be abolished and a more flexible funding of services introduced under which any doctor with a licence would be able to provide services in the public network. Another novelty would be freelance doctors, who chamber president Bojana Beović said would increase the aggregate supply of services.

Generali announces 30% dearer top-up health insurance, other providers may follow suit

LJUBLJANA - As the insurer Generali announced it will increase as of 1 May the monthly premium of top-up health insurance by more than ten euros from the current EUR 34.50, other providers, which charge roughly the same amount, suggested they might follow suit. The coalition parties Freedom Movement, Social Democrats (SD) and the Left took the occasion of the announcement to note that the top-up health insurance system had to be reformed, i.e. abolished altogether.

Stakeholders up in arms about proposal on dismissals in institutions

LJUBLJANA - Trade unions, municipalities and a democracy advocacy NGO have raised objections to government-proposed changes to the Institutes Act under which it would be much easier to dismiss the directors of entities incorporated as public institutes, including the public health insurer and schools. They said the amendments, confirmed last week, are an attempt to politicise dismissals or appointments of the heads of public institutes.

Aleksander Čeferin re-elected UEFA boss

LISBON, Portugal - Aleksander Čeferin was re-elected president of the Union of European Football Associations at the UEFA congress. The 55-year-old Slovenian lawyer, who has been serving as the boss of the European governing body of football since 2016 and ran unopposed, will lead UEFA for another four-year term. In his presentation, Čeferin highlighted the growing disparities between the the rich and the poor in football, a situation that he sees as a broader social challenge.

Akrapovič does not expect combustion engine ban to affect business

IVANČNA GORICA - Exhaust maker Akrapovič does not expect the coming EU ban on internal combustion engines to affect its business and forecasts that revenue and profit will continue growing, this year by over 15%. The company said the ban does not apply to motorcycles, its core business and a segment where electrification is negligent. Its exhaust production for cars is a niche business for high-performance cars which are not mass produced and are exempt from the directive.

National budget deficit reached EUR 325 million in Q1

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's national budget recorded a EUR 325 million deficit in the first quarter of the year, up by some EUR 66 million year-on-year, the Finance Ministry said. Both revenue and expenditure were down, but revenue saw a bigger drop. Preliminary data show that the national budget revenue was down by 2.7% to EUR 3 billion and expenditure by 0.3% to just over EUR 3.3 billion.

Jobless total hits record low in March

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's registered jobless total dropped by 5.8% in March compared to the month before and by 16.9% year-on-year to hit 50,327, an all-time low, the Employment Service said. In March, 4,321 unemployed persons registered with the Employment Service anew, which is 1.6% fewer than in February. Out of 7,398 unemployed who were struck from the service's records, 5,230 persons found a new job or got self-employed, 14% more than in February but 10% fewer year-on-year.

New bill to regulate psychotherapy

LJUBLJANA - The Health Ministry has drafted a bill on psychotherapy to regulate the field by introducing licences and the chamber of psychotherapy, said Mojca Zvezdana Dernovšek, head of the mental health and dementia sector at the ministry. The bill would introduce regulations for psychotherapists and set the criteria needed to get a licence, such as training, specialisation and supervision.

Diocese of Rome to investigate allegations against priest Rupnik

ROME, Italy - The Diocese of Rome has started an investigation of sex abuse allegations against Jesuit priest and artist Marko Rupnik, the Austrian Catholic agency Kathpress reported. The focus of the investigation will be the mosaic atelier of the Centro Aletti, which Rupnik founded and led for more than a decade. According to Italian media, the atelier is also a spiritual centre and Rupnik allegedly committed abuse there.

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