News roundup - Tuesday, 4 July

Ljubljana, 4 July - Below is a roundup of major events on Tuesday, 4 July:

Parliamentary inquiry to look into Ljubljana sewerage project

LJUBLJANA - A parliamentary inquiry was established to investigate the C0 sewerage project in Ljubljana, which has seen a fair share of opponents in recent months due to the allegations of irregularities and environmental risks. Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković intends to cooperate in the proceedings, as do all parliamentary parties. The inquiry, which was launched at the request of the largest opposition party, the Democrats (SDS), will be looking into potential wrongdoing in the C0 construction.

Social dialogue to be resumed as ESS members meet

LJUBLJANA - Representatives of employers, employees and the government on the Economic and Social Council seem to have ironed out the disagreements after employers decided to boycott its sessions due to the absence of the prime minister. The partners, which were joined for a session by PM Robert Golob, agreed that they will identify reform laws that could be harmonised in the phase when they as far as in the parliamentary procedure.

Committee okays changes to party financing

LJUBLJANA - The Home Policy Committee okayed amendments to the Political Parties Act which include a revised system of political party funding. Deputies of the Democrats (SDS) abstained, and the opposition proposal that parties could also get funds from sole proprietors and legal entities not owned by the state was voted down. The amendments had been filed by the three ruling coalition parties and the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) based on recommendations from the Court of Audit. The main solution is that the share of state funding that a party can win is to be raised from 50% to 70%.

Latest appointment of RTV director general ruled unlawful as well

LJUBLJANA - The Labour and Social Court in Ljubljana annulled in June the decision of the programme council of RTV Slovenija to reappoint Andrej Grah Whatmough director general of the public broadcaster in March last year. This comes after the Higher Labour Court ruled in March that Grah Whatmough's appointment as director general in January 2021 was unlawful because he lacked three years of experience to run large business organisations. The leadership of RTV Slovenija announced an appeal.

MPs call on govt to analyse state of economy, make action plan

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary economy and labour committees held a joint session, initiated by the opposition New Slovenia (NSi), calling on the Economy Ministry to prepare within three months an analysis of the state of the economy and an action plan to improve its comparative advantages. Business representatives presented their grievances, saying the government did not pay enough attention to their proposals. They also cautioned against additional taxation of wages.

Regulator says health insurance biggest risk to insurers

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian insurance sector is stable and well capitalised but the negative impact of frozen supplementary health insurance premiums and uncertainty over the future of health insurance represent the biggest downside risk, the Agency for Insurance Supervision said. The government froze monthly premiums at EUR 35.67, making supplementary health insurance, which is offered by three insurers, unsustainable, the agency's director Gorazd Čibej said.

Caritas Slovenia raises EUR 4.2m for Ukraine

LJUBLJANA - Caritas Slovenia has raised nearly EUR 4.2 million in humanitarian aid for people affected by the war in Ukraine. The organisation said nearly EUR 2.5 million was in financial and EUR 700,000 in material aid. The Foreign Ministry chipped in nearly EUR 1 million. Individuals and 240 companies donated EUR 2.5 million in financial aid, which went to humanitarian projects of Caritas in Ukraine, Caritas Slovenia secretary general Peter Tomažič told reporters.

Power producer HSE deep in the red in 2022

LJUBLJANA - HSE, one of Slovenia's two major state-owned electricity producers, posted a net loss of EUR 272 million for 2022 on revenue that rose by 85% to EUR 5.4 billion, shows the company's annual report. HSE power stations produced 5,079 GWh of electricity, a quarter below plans, due to low water levels that affected hydro production and a 14% decline in coal production in Velenje, the source of coal for the Šoštanj thermal power plant. HSE had to buy electricity on the market when the prices were record high.

Koper port expands car terminal capacity

KOPER - The port of Koper expanded the capacity of its car terminal to 46,500 vehicles by inaugurating an additional storage space for 3,500 vehicles in an investment worth EUR 7.3 million. The storage space was expanded by over 68,000 square metres and the capacity is set to increase further in the coming years, Luka Koper, the company managing the port, said in a press release. The terminal handled more than 800,000 vehicles last year, which the company said was more than any other Mediterranean port.

Dozens of sheep killed in wolf attack in Solčava

SOLČAVA - Dozens of sheep and lambs were killed last weekend at the Olševa mountain pasture in the Solčava municipality in the north, the Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry (KGZS) said. The bite marks point to a wolf attack. Breeders and the KGZS say the damage is substantial and urge relevant ministries to take action. A total of 93 sheep had been at the pasture along with some 20 lambs, but only some 30 animals survived the attack, according to the information available so far.

Train derails, two bus passengers injured in separate rockfalls

LJUBLJANA - Storms with heavy rain caused havoc in central Slovenia last night, especially in the areas of Ljubljana, Kranj and Zasavje. Buildings and roads were flooded. A train derailed between Zidani Most and Ljubljana due to a rockfall and another rockfall hit a bus driving between Zagorje ob Savi and Litija. Two of the bus passengers were injured.

Ministry rejects union's allegations of "fruitless" pay talks

LJUBLJANA - The Public Administration Ministry rejected the allegation by the Fides trade union of doctors and dentists that the talks to create a special wage pillar for healthcare are "fruitless". It notes that, despite repeated calls, the government has not yet received a proposal from Fides that would bring the two sides closer together. The ministry said the wages of healthcare workers, including doctors, had already been raised twice this year, first in January and then again in April.

Ljubljana Administrative Unit pledges not to discriminate against foreigners

LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana Administrative Unit will work to prevent discrimination in the future to avoid cases such as that of a Moroccan man, married to a Slovenian woman, that faced discrimination at the unit. All employees have been made aware of the case, the administrative unit said. The Equal Opportunities Ombudsman found that the Moroccan faced discrimination in procedures at the Ljubljana Administrative Unit where two employees failed to accept his application solely because of his being a foreigner.

Ljubljana to merge all public kindergartens

LJUBLJANA - Ljubljana is planning to join all 23 public kindergartens by unifying the system of management and bringing the finance, accounting and part of administration sector under one roof. The reorganisation should happen by the start of 2025. Announcing the plans, Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković and the head of the project Barbara Novinec said the idea was to optimise processes, to make them more efficient and relieve the burden on head teachers. No redundancies are planned, with 14 more staff to be hired.

SDS protests over plan not to feature late author at Frankfurt Book Fair

LJUBLJANA - The opposition Democrats (SDS) called an emergency session of the parliamentary Culture Committee to discuss "exclusion" of late Trieste-based author Boris Pahor from the list of Slovenian authors to be featured at this year's Frankfurt Book Fair where Slovenia will be the guest of honour. Katja Stergar, director of the Public Book Agency, which runs the Frankfurt presentation project, recently said that Boris Pahor had never been crossed out from the list of featured authors. She said the list only comprised authors who could be present at the fair in person. She said Necropolis, Pahor's novel about his experience of concentration camps, is to be highlighted at the Slovenian pavilion with a graphic solution.

Conductor Karmina Šilec wins international award

PODGORICA, Montenegro - Conductor and composer Karmina Šilec is this year's recipient of the Darinka Matić Marović Prize. The jury praised her for introducing a fresh approach to choral music and musical theatre and built her own style of artistic expression that knows no boundaries of cultures or nations. The prize is given every two years to a female artist originating from the ex-Yugoslavian area whose works or achievements represent an outstanding contribution to the development of musical art in the region.

MSUM show wonders what crocodiles dream about

LJUBLJANA - A three-part exhibition that brings together works of fine art, installations, film and sound, dubbed What Do Crocodiles Dream About? opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova (MSUM). The featured artists come from Indonesia, its region of West Papua, Chile, the Netherlands and the Middle East. The common thread of the exhibition is crocodile, which has a special meaning in societies and communities around the world. Running until 29 October, the show also questions the attitude of the former colonizers towards the indigenous peoples.

© STA, 2023