News roundup - Thursday, 28 September

Ljubljana, 28 September - Below is a roundup of major events on Thursday, 28 September:

Budgets for next two years marked by post-flood reconstruction

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted the draft national budgets for the next two years, focusing on reconstruction after the August floods. This will raise the planned expenditure by EUR 1 billion next year. In 2024, EUR 14 billion in revenue is expected, while expenditure is to reach EUR 16.2 billion instead of just over EUR 15.2 billion, as originally planned. The draft national budget for 2025, however, envisages revenues of EUR 14.6 billion and EUR 15.8 billion in expenditure. The budget deficit is expected to stand at 3.3% of GDP in 2024, which Slovenia will try to justify in Brussels.

Slovenia, Croatia to strengthen joint patrols on border

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar and his Croatian counterpart Davor Božinović discussed joint activities for the prevention of illegal migrations on the sidelines of the meeting of EU interior ministers. They agreed to strengthen joint patrols and compensatory measures, including specially trained police officers and the use of technical surveillance. The ministers agreed the countries will henceforth act in a coordinated manner in their relations with Brussels and third countries with the aim to improve the situation in transit and origin countries.

Poklukar does not see improvement on Austrian-Slovenian border

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar disagreed with the European Commission's recent statement that there has been improvement on the Austrian-Slovenian border. Austria's internal border controls continue to be a disproportionate and unlawful measure, he said in Brussels. Meanwhile, Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson believes that Slovenia and Austria have been making progress in efforts to come up with alternative, better measures. According to unofficial information, Austria intends to extend the measure again in mid-November.

Benedejčič yet to assume head of NATO mission post

LJUBLJANA - Andrej Benedejčič has not yet assumed his new job as the head of the Slovenian diplomatic mission to NATO, although his new posting was published in the Official Gazette as early as July. "He is expected to do so soon, as soon as he completes his outstanding duties at the prime minister's office," the Foreign Ministry explained for the STA. Until he takes over, the embassy is led by the deputy head of mission Tadej Furlan.

Brussels notifies Slovenia of failure to transpose three directives

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission sent three formal notices to Slovenia for its failure to transpose directives on transport, vehicle rental and tobacco products into national law, while the country also received a reasoned opinion, the second warning, for delays in completing water management plans and reviews. Slovenia has two months to respond to the reasoned opinion, that is to comply with the Commission's appeal, or else the Commission could take it to court.

Public administration minister in spotlight over NGO funding

LJUBLJANA - After raising dust with a costly trip to New York, Public Administration Minister Sanja Ajanović Hovnik is in the spotlight again, this time over granting funds to an NGO led by her former business partner. The ministry said she had nothing to do with the distribution of funds but merely signed the papers. Prime Minister Robert Golob came to her defence earlier this week commenting on the allegations about the New York trip.

Sanja Štiglic named state secretary at Foreign Ministry

LJUBLJANA - The government appointed long-standing diplomat Sanja Štiglic as state secretary at the Foreign Ministry as a replacement for Samuel Žbogar, who held the position until now but had to step down so that he can take over on 1 October as head of a special mission for Slovenia's upcoming non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council. Štiglic already held the position of state secretary at the ministry in 2016.

Šinko says young people crucial for agricultural development

LJUBLJANA/SIGUENZA, Spain - Attending a high-level forum on rural policy in Sigüenza, Spain, Agriculture Minister Irena Šinko highlighted the role of young people, who she said were crucial for development. They need to be supported through various measures, she stressed. The minister took part in a panel on the implementation of the EU's long-term vision for rural areas and the pact for rural areas.

Teachers' trade union announces rally for 25 October

LJUBLJANA - The teachers' trade union SVIZ announced a rally for 25 October since it believes that the government's latest proposal to tackle pay disparities in the public sector does not eliminate those in education, culture and science, but rather maintains or even increases them. The proposal devalues a number of professions in the educational sector, which would have negative implications for the quality of education, SVIZ said.

WizzAir launches regular Skopje service

BRNIK - Hungarian budget airline WizzAir launched a regular route between Ljubljana and Skopje on Wednesday. It will be flying between the two capitals throughout the year twice a week, on Wednesday and Sundays. "After four years, Skopje is once again a part of our network and we are confident that the budget-friendly WizzAir flights will draw many to explore this charming destination," said Babett Stapel, the head of airport operator Fraport Ljubljana.

Boss of mobile home maker named Manager of the Year

LJUBLJANA - Marta Kelvišar, the director of the Črnomelj-based maker of mobile homes and glamping tents Adria Dom, has been named Manager of the Year by the Manager Association, which described her as a charismatic leader who prioritises action over promises. Kelvišar "pushes the brakes when it comes to promises and accelerates when it comes to actions - because she is convinced that business leaders are more successful if they over-deliver on their promises," the business association said.

Fire retardant maker plans to invest in Maribor

MARIBOR - A German-Kosovar fire retardant company has announced it wants to build a production facility in Maribor for what it says is a pivotal product which is not only very effective but also environmentally friendly. Trident CSL already has a production facility in Frankfurt and another in Prishtina and has chosen Maribor for its next location. This facility would meet the demand on neighbouring markets, Trident CSL representative Bojan Kotnik told the STA.

Court dismisses NGO lawsuit against bear culling

LJUBLJANA - The Administrative Court dismissed a lawsuit by an environmental NGO against the decision of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning to cull 230 brown bears. Suspended by a temporary injunction, the culling may now continue, the ministry announced on Wednesday. The order is in effect until the end of the year.

Locals stage protest as investors present Pohorje wind farms project

SLOVENSKA BISTRICA - Representatives of the company Energija na Veter, which plans to build 56 wind turbines in the Pohorje hills, presented the project to locals together with experts who assessed the project's impact on the environment. The mayors or Slovenska Bistrica and Ruše were also invited, but did not attend. A few dozen locals and members of a civil initiative opposing the wind farms staged a rally in front of the hotel where the presentation was held.

Tax debt down by 2.4% in 2022

LJUBLJANA - Tax debt has been decreasing in Slovenia for the last nine years. Last year, it decreased by EUR 22 million or 2.4% and stood at around EUR 896 million at the end of the year. In 2022, the tax authority collected around EUR 21 billion in net revenue to the national budget, the pension and disability fund, the health insurance fund and the municipality budgets. This is an increase of EUR 1.8 billion, or 9.5%, compared to 2021, according to the government's press release.

Prices of commercial property continue to rise

LJUBLJANA - Following a fall in the first quarter of the year, commercial property prices rose by 1.5% in the second quarter, as a nearly three-year period of steady price growth continued in April-to-June, the Statistics Office said. The general quarterly increase was fuelled by more expensive premises for retail and services (+6.3%), while offices were 3.2% cheaper.

© STA, 2023