News roundup - Monday, 25 September

Ljubljana, 25 September - Below is a roundup of major events on Monday, 25 September:

Final decision on new nuclear unit expectedly in 2027 or 2028

LJUBLJANA - As the task force in charge of coordinating preparations for a potential new unit at the Krško Nuclear Power Plant (NEK) met for its maiden session, it was noted that it would lay down the groundwork, including by means of special legislation, that would enable the final investment decision on Krško 2 to be made in 2027 or 2028. As Danijel Levičar, the state secretary at the prime minister's office tasked to coordinate the project, told the press after the session, the year 2027 or 2028 is "not too late of a date". In this case the new facility could be connected to the grid in 2038.

Municipalities report EUR 2.7 billion in flood damage

LJUBLJANA - Municipalities have reported over EUR 2.7 billion in damage caused by the August floods, with the amount not including the damage to businesses. The data has been sent in by 173 out of the country's 212 municipalities in more than 23,500 individual forms. This is not the final data, as the authorities will check the damage on the ground.

Steel group SIJ sues SPIRIT agency over energy price subsidies

LJUBLJANA - Steel group SIJ has initiated legal proceedings against the investment promotion agency SPIRIT after the government halted the payment of energy price subsidies due to the company's decision to pay dividends for 2022 and confirm a general management remuneration policy. SIJ's subsidiaries had already received EUR 2.4 million before SPIRIT, which disburses the aid, suspended payments based on a government decision. SIJ is partly state-owned (25%), while the rest is owned by Dilon, a company controlled by the Zubitsky family from Russia.

WIPO to help Slovenia with intellectual property protection

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia is currently in the process of preparing the first national strategy for the protection of intellectual property, which is expected to be adopted next year. Visiting Ljubljana, Daren Tang, director general of the UN World Intellectual Property Organization, offered help with the preparations at a meeting with Economy Minister Matjaž Han and Karin Žvokelj, head of Slovenia's Intellectual Property Office. He also met several other senior officials, including President Nataša Pirc Musar, and took part in a panel discussion at the Jožef Stefan Institute.

Slovenia, N Macedonia sign development aid memorandum

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian and Macedonian interior ministers signed a memorandum on development aid cooperation, as Oliver Spasovski started a two-day visit to Slovenia. Slovenia's Boštjan Poklukar congratulated his counterpart on police modernisation, and reiterated Slovenia's support for North Macedonia's joining the EU. Under the memorandum, Slovenia will be donating helicopter components and spare parts, contributing to the Macedonian police force's ability to perform its duties, including rescue missions. As part of this, the ministers are also scheduled to visit Slovenian police airborne unit at Brnik airport tomorrow.

Govt to adopt budgets for 2024 and 2025 on Thursday

LJUBLJANA - The government discussed the draft budgets for 2024 and 2025 at today's budget session, which will continue on Thursday, when the documents are expected to be adopted, the Government Communication Office said. The discussion focused on the ministries' efforts to cut their spending by 4% on instruction to save some funds for the costly post-flood reconstruction. But according to public broadcaster Radio Slovenia, the ministers were now instructed to save an additional 2%, which means some savings could be made on public sector salaries. The deadline to submit the budget to parliament is 1 October.

POP TV poll shows decline in govt rating

LJUBLJANA - The government's approval rating plunged to below 50% following a brief surge right after the August floods, according to a poll by the private broadcaster POP TV, which also shows the two top parties neck-and-neck, both having recorded significant losses in August. After an eight-point surge last month, the share of those who support the government plunged by seven points to 44.9% as the number of those who think it is doing a poor job rose by four points to 38.9%. Just over 16% are undecided, up by almost three points.

August storms triggered 10,000 landslides, damage estimated at EUR 2bn

LJUBLJANA - A rough estimate by the Geological Survey of Slovenia shows that some 10,000 landslides were triggered around the country after the early August storms and floods, with the cost of landslide mitigation work probably to reach around EUR 2 billion. The authority's director Miloš Bavec told the STA the assessment of the damage is far from being complete. He is moreover concerned that autumn rains could further aggravate the situation. Slovenia is a landslide-prone country, with almost a third of its territory more or less under the risk of landslides.

Minister attends Slovenian Days in Cleveland

CLEVELAND, US - Minister for Slovenians Abroad Matej Arčon attended on Sunday the opening of the Slovenian Days festival in Cleveland as part of a multi-day visit to the US. Visiting what is considered the hub of the Slovenian community in the US, he stressed the importance of efforts to preserve the Slovenian identity and culture.

Fiscal revenue up by 6.3% to EUR 21.46 billion in 2022

LJUBLJANA - The state collected revenue from taxes and social security contributions in the total amount of EUR 21.46 billion last year, which is 6.3% more than in 2021, the Statistics Office said, noting that as a share of GDP, revenue was slightly down after growth was recorded in 2021. Last year's growth in revenue from taxes and social contributions generated by the state in nominal terms followed a 12.9% post-Covid growth in 2021.

Diesel up 4% to EUR 1.664 a litre on Tuesday, petrol up 2.4%

LJUBLJANA - Regulated prices of fuel will again increase at midnight with regular petrol off the motorway network being sold at EUR 1.588 a litre, up 3.7 cents, and diesel at EUR 1.664 a litre, up 6.4 cents. Heating oil will cost EUR 1.249 a litre, up by 6.8 cents.

New management at producer of POP TV, Kanal A

LJUBLJANA - Stella Litou, the chief executive of media owner CME Adria, has taken over as the director general of Pro Plus, which produces the top two commercial channels in Slovenia, POP TV and Kanal A. She took over as CME Adria chief executive in November and was now put in charge of Pro Plus, CME Adria's Slovenian media holding, and RTL, its Croatian asset, Pro Plus announced. She replaced Branko Čakarmiš, who headed Pro Plus since February 2022, before which he was Pro Plus's programming director for 13 years. He will stay on as strategic adviser.

Litostroj scores record contract at hydropower plant in Canada

LJUBLJANA - Litostroj Power Group, a Ljubljana-based Czech-owned company, will supply eight generation units for an upgrade of the Pointe du Bois hydropower station in Manitoba, Canada. It secured the deal, worth more than 100 million US dollars, through the plant operator Manitoba Hydro, Litostroj said. The contract includes a new hydraulic design of turbines, engineering, production and delivery of eight units, as well as installation, testing and launch of the plant. The aim of the upgrade is to increase the plant's reliability and production capacity and extend its lifespan to at least 2055.

IJS nanotech researchers working on precise cancer drug delivery system

LJUBLJANA - A group of researchers at Slovenia's foremost research centre, the Jožef Stefan Institute (IJS), is developing a cancer treatment delivery system using red blood cells, which they hope will provide a much more targetted approach than the still widely used radiation and chemotherapy, which can be very detrimental to healthy tissue.

Number of tourists in first eight months up 4% to 4.51m

LJUBLJANA - Around 4.51 million people were recorded in tourist facilities around Slovenia in the first eight months of the year, which is 4% more than in the same period last year. They generated 12.03 million nights or 2.6% more year-on-year, the Statistics Office reported.

Senior police officer hits a pedestrian

SEVNICA - A police officer, who is according to unofficial information director of the Kranj Police Department Melita Močnik, hit a pedestrian in a traffic accident that took place in the area of Sevnica, east, on Saturday morning. The man sustained severe injuries and the paramedics took him to hospital. The General Police Department told the STA the vehicle was driven by a police officer but did not disclose their identity. It did say, however, that the breathalyser test the police officer took at the site of the accident did not show presence of alcohol, and that the police officer reported the accident to police.

Lady Justice visits Ljubljana to warn of human rights violations

LJUBLJANA - A giant balloon installation dubbed Lady Justice by environmental activist Alban Grosdidier was set up near the parliament house in Ljubljana to warn of a proposed EU directive that would make EU companies liable for human rights violations and damage to the environment. The EU directive, which the European Commission presented in February 2022, is to encourage companies to act in a sustainable and responsible manner in all global value chains.

Cinematographer Likon honoured for lifetime achievement

LJUBLJANA - The Milka and Metod Badjura Award for lifetime achievement in film was awarded in August to cinematographer Rado Likon, who will receive it at the opening of the Festival of Slovenian Film in Portorož next week. Likon's film photography always matches the story, no matter the topic or filming technique, the jury said, adding that he has influenced both the cinematographic and TV audience. Likon, 74, was the first Slovenian to graduate from the Prague film school FAMU, and has worked on more than 70 films and TV shows.

© STA, 2023