News roundup - Thursday, 4 January

Ljubljana, 4 January - Below is a roundup of major events on Thursday, 4 January:

Freedom Movement MP nominated for agriculture minister

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Robert Golob formally nominated Freedom Movement deputy Mateja Čalušić for agriculture minister. The 36-year-old vice-chair of the parliamentary Agriculture Committee has a degree in agricultural and horticultural studies. She says in her profile on the party's website that she advocates for a competitive agricultural sector and food industry, as well as for shorter supply chains and local self-sufficiency. The Farmers' Trade Union said it was worried that the new minister will not be dedicated to agriculture, the traditional food growing, Slovenian food tradition and life in the countryside.

Judges, prosecutors suspend work over pay issue, announce work-to-rule strike

LJUBLJANA - Judges and prosecutors suspended their work for an hour to protest the government failing to implement a salary raise in line with a Constitutional Court ruling, with the Association of Judges saying in a protest letter that they saw "abuse of power" in the government's failure to act. Judges also decided to go on a work-to-rule strike for two weeks between 10 and 24 January to pressure the government into implementing the ruling. They also urged Prime Minister Robert Golob and Justice Minister Dominika Švarc Pipan to step down.

Slovenia borrows EUR 1.5 billion with a bond

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia issued a EUR 1.5 billion 10-year bond on international capital markets late on Wednesday with a 3% coupon rate and 10 March 2034 as maturity date, the Finance Ministry said. The bond's maturity yield is 3.043% and price EUR 99.621. The spread over the mid-point interest rate swap rate was 58 basis points. Most of the investors were fund managers (37%), followed by official institutions such as central banks (20%), banks or treasuries (18%), insurance companies or pension funds (12%), and venture capital funds (9%).

Justice Ministry state secretary steps down

LJUBLJANA - Valerija Jelen Kosi has tendered her resignation as a state secretary at the Justice Ministry, the ministry confirmed. Unofficially, the reason for her move is the failure to raise judge pay by 3 January as decreed by the Constitutional Court. Before becoming state secretary Jelen Kosi served as a judge at the Ljubljana Higher Court, and headed a project aimed at improving the quality of the judiciary at the Supreme Court.

Slovenia's exports up 4.8%, imports 1.8% in Jan-Nov

LJUBLJANA - The country's exports of goods rose by 4.8% to EUR 50.9 billion and imports of goods by 1.8% to EUR 53 billion in the first eleven months of last year over the same period in 2022. The export-import ratio was 96.2%, the Statistics Office said. The exports and imports were up at the annual level in November due to more trade with non-EU members, while trade with EU countries declined by about a tenth.

Loss-making thermal plant and coal mine to be excluded from HSE

LJUBLJANA - HSE, a state-owned energy holding, is gearing up to transfer two loss-making subsidiaries - the coal-fired power station TEŠ and the Velenje coal mine - onto a new state-owned company to avoid bankruptcy, according to a report by the news portal Necenzurirano. SSH, the company managing state assets, did not comment but is aware of the situation.

Furloughed news show staff prevented from entering RTV Slovenija building

LJUBLJANA - Public broadcaster RTV Slovenija has furloughed 15 of its staff who made Panorama after cancelling this daily TV news show in the 2024 production plan. The staff were informed of the move just days before the end of 2023, and when they tried to come to work today, they could not enter the building as their entry cards were blocked. They have turned to the relevant inspection authorities and the police, but the management is adamant its decision is in line with the regulations.

UKC Ljubljana and med school reach debt settlement

LJUBLJANA - UKC Ljubljana, the country's largest hospital, and the Ljubljana Medical Faculty reached a court settlement on Wednesday resolving a EUR 41.3 million debt that nearly led to the faculty suspending microbiological and pathological testing for the hospital in mid-December. As part of the settlement, the medical school will write off EUR 8 million of the debt, while the hospital will pay off EUR 30.2 million in seven instalments by July 2026.

Civil initiative files health bill

LJUBLJANA - The civil initiative Voice of the People lodged in parliamentary procedure an emergency health bill aiming to stabilise the public health system. Opposing the doctors' strike called for 9 January, the initiative announced a protest for the same day. The legislative proposal has been signed by more than 6,700 voters, while 5,000 voter signatures are needed for a bill to be submitted to parliament. The initiative expects coalition parties to endorse the bill, saying it follows their pre-election promises. The coalition parties responded to the move by saying that some of the proposals in the bill had been included in the coalition-sponsored emergency healthcare act passed in December.

Private collection, Ukraine art among 2024 highlights at National Gallery

LJUBLJANA - The National Gallery in Ljubljana will put on show in 2024 an extensive private collection of Slovenian art from the 19th and 20th centuries, while also bringing an exhibition of Ukrainian Modernist art and another of works from the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb, Croatia. A smaller exhibition will be dedicated this year to Slovenian painter and graphic artist Marjan Pogačnik's print technique, to be accompanied by a documentary.

Ski jumper Prevc increases World Cup lead as she wins second Villach event

VILLACH, Austria - Slovenian ski jumper Nika Prevc won a World Cup competition in Austria's Villach, in what is her second victory in two days and the fourth this season. With 275.6 points, she finished as many as 20.3 points ahead of Austrian Eva Pinkelnig, while Slovenia's Nika Križnar placed third with 251.8 points.

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