News roundup - Thursday, 6 April

Ljubljana, 6 April - Below is a roundup of major events on Thursday, 6 April:

Slovenia boosting ties with Africa

KIGALI, Rwanda/KAMPALA, Uganda - Urška Klakočar Zupančič, the president of the National Assembly, has been touring Uganda and Rwanda this week, while Samuel Žbogar, a state secretary at the Foreign Ministry, has visited Namibia and Botswana in a bid to boost bilateral relations and trade, and exchange views on topical issues. Gender equality has been high on the agenda as Klakočar Zupančič met her counterparts in Kampala and Kigali.

Gradual fiscal consolidation planned through 2026

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a fiscal policy framework that predicts a gradual consolidation of public finances until 2026 with the aim of bringing the general government deficit in line with EU budgetary rules. Debt will decline as well but will not be below the EU-imposed ceiling. Standing at 3.9% of GDP last year, the deficit is projected to hover around 5% of GDP this year due to energy price measures, though the latest payouts of energy price subsidies indicated that it will be lower. In 2024 it will drop to 2.8% of GDP, below the EU ceiling 3% of GDP, before contracting further to 2.2% in 2025 and just 1.3% in 2026.

Slovenia joins EU action against Hungary over anti-LGBT law

LJUBLJANA - The government decided that Slovenia would join the European Commission's lawsuit against Hungary over the latter's anti-LGBT law. A number of member states and the European Parliament are supporting the Commission's legal action at the EU Court of Justice over what is deemed a discriminatory law. "Slovenia wants to express its firm support for basic values that form the foundation of the EU: human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and human rights, including the rights of minorities," the Labour Ministry said.

Insurers say they are not to blame for higher health insurance premiums

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Insurance Association dismissed criticism that insurers are to blame for higher premiums for top-up health insurance after one provider, Generali, announced that premiums will rise by almost a third. It said the price rise was the result of surging health costs. The last time premiums rose was in 2019, and since then outlays for services covered by top-up insurance rose by 31% and expenses for medicines by 36%. The trend continues this year, the association said. The ZSSS trade union confederation said the increase in premiums was "absurd and unacceptable" and called for abolishing the supplementary insurance and for introducing profit taxes for insurers.

EUR 79m in additional health services performed under Covid exit law

LJUBLJANA - Public and private health providers performed extra services worth EUR 79 million between October and December under a Covid exit law that was passed in October and provided extra funding to reduce waiting lines that ballooned during the pandemic, show final figures released by the Health Ministry. More than a third of money, 36%, was spent by concessionaires and a quarter by both university medical centres in Ljubljana and Maribor. Other hospitals accounted for 22% of spending and community health centres for 19%. Overall, public providers accounted for 64% of all spending and private providers with concessions for 36%.

Krka shareholders looking at higher dividend

NOVO MESTO - The management and supervisory board of pharma company Krka have proposed for shareholders to get a dividend of EUR 6.60 gross per share this year, an increase of 17.2% on last year, the company announced in a regulatory filing. The proposal, formed at Wednesday's meeting of the supervisory board, is for the shareholders' meeting on 6 July to allocate EUR 204.44 million of the EUR 408.16 million in distributable profit for dividends.

Govt changing border control law

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted changes to the border control act, creating a legal basis for record-keeping of border checks of passengers. The changes determine the scope of data processing and storing. "Identification of persons crossing the border and subsequent reconstruction of events ... are key in effective prevention of illegal migrations and successful investigations of international criminal rings," the government said. The changes are to be fast-tracked through parliament.

More ambitious targets planned in updated National Energy and Climate Plan

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia has initiated procedures to update its National Energy and Climate Plan. The goals regarding greenhouse gas emissions and energy use will be more ambitious, and the measures will be accelerated, the Environment, Climate and Energy Ministry said as it launched a public consultation on updates to the plan. Slovenia is currently successful in implementing measures put in place before the plan was adopted but less successful regarding the measures included in the National Energy and Climate Plan, according to a consortium in charge of the updates that is led by the Jožef Stefan Institute's Energy Efficiency Centre.

Event marks 30 years since Slovenia became CoE member

LJUBLJANA - A round-table debate marked the upcoming 30th anniversary of Slovenia's membership in the Council of Europe (CoE), with Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon saying that becoming CoE member had been a significant step for Slovenia when it was becoming an independent and sovereign state in the international community. Fajon commented on the upcoming CoE summit in Reykjavik in May, saying this was only the fourth summit in its history of nearly 75 years and the first in 18 years. "The fact that we decided it was time for the highest representatives to meet shows how demanding this moment in time is for Europe," she said.

Coalition MPs express doubt in RTV supervisory board

LJUBLJANA - The Commission for Oversight of Public Finances discussed a report on the supervisory board of public broadcaster RTV Slovenija in 2022. Coalition MPs expressed doubt that the supervisors did their job, with chief supervisor Borut Rončević saying it did. He said the supervisors acted strictly within the limits of their powers set by the law and the statute. The supervisory board does not run the institution, it is not the management or the disciplinary committee, he said. Thus, he said that even the questions addressed to him today by the MPs should have been addressed to the management and to a lesser extent to the Programme Council.

Cooperation of North Adriatic ports successful, but with room for improvement

PORTOROŽ - The North Adriatic Ports Association (NAPA), which was set up 13 years ago and brings together five ports from Italy, Slovenia and Croatia, has achieved its objectives since container traffic has more than doubled in this period. There is however room to grow further, and to improve infrastructure, heard a logistics conference. Andrej Cah, the director of sales at the port of Koper, said the reason why the North Adriatic is seeing constant growth in cargo volumes is that the ports have adapted their infrastructure to larger container ships in time. Growth is driven primarily by the relocation of industry from west to east Europe, which is the natural hinterland for Koper, and shipping companies recognising the benefits of rerouting ships from the North Sea to the Adriatic through the Suez Canal.

Strategy on dementia envisages national dementia centre

LJUBLJANA - A strategy on managing dementia in Slovenia until 2030 was presented to the parliamentary health and labour committees. Envisaging the setting up of a national centre for dementia, the document was backed by committee members, who expressed hope it will be endorsed by the cabinet soon. It lists measures for raising awareness about dementia, the needs of dementia patients and their relatives, and for creating a supportive environment, said Health Ministry State Secretary Tadej Ostrc.

Govt okays resolution on new national programme on illicit drugs

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a resolution on a national programme on illicit drugs for 2023-20230 to help tackle drug abuse in Slovenia. It highlighted stepping up preventive measures and early intervention to decrease the numbers of drug users among the young and drug-related criminal acts. Drafted by the Health Ministry, the document envisages more efforts being made towards developing programmes that would help maintain or decrease the number of patients with HIV and hepatitides B and C, as well as the number of deaths caused by an overdose.

Cukrarna opens exhibition on human alienation

LJUBLJANA - Exhibition The Figurative, Selected Examples in Slovenian Art opened at the Cukrarna arts venue to address the alienation of humans through works by 32 artists, spanning from Slovenian after-war existentialism to contemporary figural art. First, "obvious artists" were chosen, like Janez Bernik, Marij Pregelj, Gabrijel Stupica and Zoran Mušič, who are represented in the exhibition with one work each, and then started building stories around those works and the main question of human alienation, said Alenka Gregorič, who curated the exhibition with Mateja Podlesnik.

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