News roundup - Thursday, 6 July

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

Law passed to transform top-up health insurance

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed a bill that transforms supplementary health insurance, a flat-rate monthly payment that is voluntary but needed for most health services, into a mandatory contribution attached to regular health insurance premiums. From next year, the payments will no longer be collected by private insurers. In the meantime, the supplementary health insurance premium, now collected by three private insurance companies, has been frozen at just over EUR 35 per month.

Govt and judges reach pay agreement

LJUBLJANA - The government has reached a pay agreement with the judges, a move that means judges will be the first professional group to be moved onto a new salary scale planned under the public sector pay reform. The lowest salary for a judge, will reportedly be EUR 4,400 gross, while the highest paid positions, those of the presidents of constitutional and supreme courts, would be 24 brackets higher. Judges also get a compensation for exclusivity amounting to 10% of basic salary.

Slovenia signing up for joint procurement of air defence systems

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia will sign a NATO memorandum on the joint procurement of land-based air defence systems, the Government Communication Office said after a cabinet session. It will do so as a member of the German-led European Sky Defence Initiative, which comprises 17 countries, with Austria and Switzerland expected to join shortly. The memorandum, drawn up in Berlin, provides the basis for the creation of a joint procurement mechanism for air defence systems, the Defence Ministry said.

Krka's group net profit down 28% in H1, over EUR 204m to be paid out in dividends

NOVO MESTO - The group around drug company Krka reported an estimated net profit of EUR 170 million for the first half of 2023, a 28% year-on-year decrease that the company attributed to high foreign exchange gains in 2022. Revenue grew by 7% to EUR 920 million and operating profit (EBIT) by 9% to a six-month company record of EUR 236 million. "The gap between the 2023 in 2022 net financial result is wide but is expected to close by the end of the year," it said. Krka will pay out just over EUR 204.4 million in dividends or EUR 6.60 gross a share, which is 17.2% more than last year.

Gas trader Geoplin revenue doubled in 2022 but loss topped EUR 28m

LJUBLJANA - The revenue of Slovenia's largest natural gas trader Geoplin almost doubled to EUR 1.4 billion in 2022, a year of historic shocks for the gas market, with the growth mostly a result of higher prices. The Geoplin group recorded a net loss of EUR 28.4 million at the end of the year, which comes after a EUR 18.6 million net profit in 2021.

MPs pass law furthering renewable electricity facilities

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed a law designed to expedite the deployment of renewable electricity generation facilities. The opposition was critical of the approach, saying too much focus was being placed on solar and wind energy. The law, adopted in a 48:31 vote, will serve as the basis for identifying potential priority areas for solar and wind farms, for example large roofs, abandoned waste repositories and existing infrastructure.

National Assembly passes changes to party financing

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed changes to the Political Parties Act, including a revised system of political party funding. The changes were passed with 57 votes of the three ruling coalition parties and the opposition New Slovenia (NSi), which proposed them, while the opposition Democrats (SDS) abstained. Some non-parliamentary parties warned the changes would increase the funding of large parties, while small parties would have more problems.

Govt proposes changes to ease medicines procurement

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted an emergency bill to ensure undisrupted supply of pharmaceutical products in the country as a stop-gap measure to tackle problems faced by pharmacies due to stiff public procurement rules. "The bill will prevent delays or disruptions in the supply of medicines due to the difficulties faced in public procurement by public pharmacies and the consequent shortage of medicines on the Slovenian market," Tadej Osterc from the Health Ministry told reporters after the cabinet session.

Price shock neutralisation partially successful last year

LJUBLJANA - The state neutralised energy price shocks for households last year, but prices for business rose substantially, shows an analysis by the National Energy Agency. The average annual electricity bill for households would have been EUR 794 in the absence of price intervention but was actually at EUR 617, just slightly higher than in 2021. Electricity for business users meanwhile averaged EUR 178 per MWh, which is an increase of more than 80% on the year before.

Mathematical physicist first Slovenian with two ERC advanced grants

LJUBLJANA - Mathematical physicist Tomaž Prosen, a professor at the Ljubljana Faculty of Mathematics and Physics has won his second European Research Council(ERC) advanced grant for research in mathematical statistical physics. In the project Quantum Ergodicity: Stability and Transitions (QUEST) Prosen will research the robustness of quantum chaos and quantum ergodicity for outside disruptions. As Prosen said, this is basic research in the field of mathematical statistical physics.

Govt adopts dementia management strategy

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a strategy on dementia management until 2030, which envisages includes the creation of a national dementia centre and a register to compile social security, healthcare and other data relevant in managing the disease. The strategy, drafted by experts on the topic, "was extremely positively received" in public debate from both the professionals in the field and the general public, Health Ministry State Secretary Tadej Ostrc said.

Agriculture Act amended to allow for data collecting on food prices

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed amendments to the Agriculture Act that create a legal basis for collecting data on the price, quantity and origin of food in the supply chain. The changes were proposed to ensure food security in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine. While the coalition argued in the debate that the changes would help determine the actual price relations in the food chain, the opposition expressed fear that they would bring additional administrative burdens to farmers.

Preservation and development of handicrafts enshrined in new law

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed an act on the preservation and development of handicrafts. It is aimed at promoting the transfer of handicraft knowledge and skills, protecting craftspersons and their products, and giving out certificates and titles of master artisans. The Chamber of Trade Crafts and Small Business (OZS) will be in charge of this in cooperation with handicraft centres and their consortiums, the Union of Pensioners' Associations (ZDUS) and the Slovenian Ethnographic Museum (SEM).

Slovenia's innovation performance remains unchanged

LJUBLJANA/BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia's innovation performance remains unchanged compared with the year before, with the country ranking 14th among EU countries and keeping its spot in the moderate innovators group, shows the 2023 European Innovation Scoreboard released by the European Commission. In the group of moderate innovators, Slovenia is joined by Estonia, the Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, Malta, Portugal, Lithuania, Greece and a newcomer to the group, Hungary.

Policewoman injured in shooting incident in Dolenjska

ŠMARJEŠKE TOPLICE - A 62-year-old man opened fire at two police officers near Šmarjeta na Dolenjskem in south-east Slovenia this afternoon after being pulled over and found to be too drunk to drive. A policewoman was injured in the shoulder but the wound is said to be superficial. The two officers did not return fire. The 62-year-old later injured himself with a firearm at home. He is currently in hospital and there are no information about his medical condition.

Tadej Pogačar wins stage 6 of the Tour de France

PAU, France - Slovenian rider Tadej Pogačar bounced back from a bad day in the first mountain test in the Pyrenees in this year's Tour de France to claim a solo victory in stage 6 and to climb to second spot overall after defending champion Jonas Vingegaard, who put on the yellow jersey. This is the 10th stage win for Pogačar at the world's most prestigious road cycling race and his 15th of the season. The 24-year-old also keeps the white jersey of the top placed young ruder overall.

Vipotnik leaving Maribor for Bordeaux in near record deal

MARIBOR - The leading scorer of the Slovenian football league last year Žan Vipotnik is leaving Maribor to continue his career in Bordeaux. The six-time French champions, currently playing in the second division, unofficially paid around EUR 3 million for the 21-year-old national team striker in a possible record deal for players from the Slovenian league. Maribor have secured the right to a percentage of the fee tied to Vipotnik's next transfer.

Top contemporary art on show in Slovenia's oldest city

PTUJ - Some of the top local and foreign contemporary artists will have their works displayed in Ptuj as Slovenia's oldest city hosts the 21st edition of its Art Stays festival this weekend. The main exhibition will open on Friday evening at City Gallery, featuring Maribor artist and filmmaker Nika Autor, along with several other artists, including Italian photographers Gabriele Basilico and English "walking artist" Hamish Fulton.

© STA, 2023