News roundup - Tuesday, 30 January

Ljubljana, 30 January - Below is a roundup of major events on Tuesday, 30 January:

Parties agree to call referendum on new nuclear unit this year

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia is to hold a referendum this year on whether to build a second nuclear unit to replace the current one at the Krško Nuclear Power Station once its extended lifespan ends in 2043, under a deal reached at a cross-party meeting hosted by Prime Minister Robert Golob. Golob said all five parliamentary parties agreed to work together to form a question on Krško 2 that will be put to a vote in a consultative referendum this year. The question will be based on a resolution on peaceful use of nuclear energy in Slovenia, which the government plans to put forward to the National Assembly shortly.

Roughly half of doctors to withdraw consent for overtime work

LJUBLJANA - An estimated half of all doctors decided to withdraw consent for overtime work as part of their ongoing strike, meaning they plan to work a maximum of 48 hours per week, their trade union Fides said, adding that health institutions will be handed over the withdrawals of consent on Wednesday. The doctors' decision also means that they will no longer work for more than 16 hours in one go. The Medical Chamber said it sees the decisions to withdraw consent for overtime work as a way for doctors to express their frustration, while the Health Ministry again called on Fides to suspend the strike.

Work of courts no longer to be scaled back, protests continue

LJUBLJANA - The Association of Judges decided they will no longer scale back their work as part of their protest over the government's failure to implement a Constitutional Court ruling on judicial pay, but they do intend to continue with their protest assemblies at courts. The first such assembly will take place on 7 February, and will continue to be held monthly until the Constitutional Court's decision is implemented, the association's head Vesna Bergant Rakočević told the STA. The work will no longer be scaled back because judges believes that would be to the detriment of people, she added.

Prosecutors want their monthly gross pay to rise by over EUR 1,200

LJUBLJANA - Prosecutors sent the government a proposal for their monthly pay to be raised by EUR 1,244 gross to avert the one-day strike, which is planned for tomorrow. The sum is the difference between the minimum salary of a district prosecutor and that of a member of parliament, the strike committee told the STA. A vast majority of prosecutors will go on strike, suspending work for three hours and doing only urgent and priority matters the rest of the day, said prosecutor Barbara Prevolšek Rajić, the head of the committee.

Business cooperation in focus of high-level Chinese visit

LJUBLJANA - A high-level Chinese delegation was on an official visit to Slovenia on Monday. Led by Wang Yong, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the delegation included the heads of postal services and top global train maker. Wang and PM Robert Golob expressed hope of further cooperation and affirmed traditionally friendly ties between their countries and a high level of cooperation in business, culture and science.

Deal securing power supply from Bosnia as of Thursday signed

LJUBLJANA - A 2023 arbitration decision ordering the Bosnian coal mine and power station Ugljevik to pay about EUR 130 million to Slovenia's power utility HSE for failing to supply electricity after the dissolution of Yugoslavia yielded an agreement that will result in additional power being supplied to Slovenia as of Thursday. In line with the agreement, the principal amount of the EUR 67 million in damages, awarded along with interest over the failure to supply electricity from June 2011 to December 2021, will start to get paid off on 30 June 2024 and be paid off in seven years.

IMF sees Slovenian financial system as resilient but in need of reform

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's financial system is resilient in the face of increased challenges but structural reforms are needed, assessed a mission by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of annual consultations. Like in other countries, risks remain high, said head of the IMF mission Donal McGettigan, noting that Slovenia is affected by conflicts in the region, unstable raw material prices and below-expectation growth in partner countries. The Bank of Slovenia is largely in agreement with the IMF mission, sharing the "estimate that Slovenia is currently in a relatively good position."

Macroeconomist Mrak says high time for structural reforms

LJUBLJANA - Reflecting on the government's economic policies and future outlook, Ljubljana School of Economics and Business professor Mojmir Mrak told the STA that at least some of the announced structural reforms in Slovenia will have to be executed this year. Mrak also feels the government opted for a too ambitions timeline regarding post-flood reconstruction. He hopes the global tensions will not escalate further.

EUR 195m available for replacing old heating furnaces

LJUBLJANA - The government decided to allocate another EUR 79.5 million to help replace old heating devices with new ones, which increases the total funds for this purpose to EUR 194.85 million. The additional funds will suffice to subsidise an estimated 4,800 new wood biomass furnaces and 12,600 heat pumps. While the government initially wanted to ban installing biomass furnaces in new homes in a new energy bill, it now opted against it due to strong criticism from the opposition.

Slovenia in favour of further UNRWA funding

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia has joined UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres's call for countries to continue funding the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), some of whose members have been accused by Israel of having taken part in Hamas's October 2023 terrorist attack in Israel. The Foreign Ministry said that freezing funds would jeopardise UNRWA and put at risk the lives of Palestinians in the Middle East.

Kočevje mayor confirms EU election bid

NOVO MESTO - Vladimir Prebilič, the mayor of Kočevje, confirmed he will enter the European Parliament election. He is currently discussing potential collaboration with several partners, whereby Vesna, a small green party that is not in parliament, is the likeliest backer. Vesna had backed Prebilič in the 2022 presidential election, when he beat expectations by winning over 10% of the vote in the first round. "I would personally wish additional support, but talks on that are still ongoing," he said.

Slovenia loses a spot in corruption perceptions index

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia scored 56 out of 100 points on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) in 2023, keeping the same score as in 2022, said Transparency International (TI) Slovenia. The country lost one spot compared to 2022 and ranked 42nd. Slovenia is lagging behind the EU average of 64 points, which according to TI Slovenia signifies insufficient efforts in corruption prevention. TI Slovenia president Neža Grasselli said she was not surprised by the result and the Corruption Prevention Commission noted the country has been stagnating if not declining for years in the fight against corruption.

MPs okay changes establishing post-flood reconstruction fund

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly adopted the changes to the 2024 and 2025 budget implementation act that effectively establish a new budget-based fund for the reconstruction effort after the 2023 August floods and determine new dedicated budget revenue for this purpose. According to the government, the fund has been established so that the funds would be collected in one place in a transparent manner and that, unlike other budget-based funds, unused funds in a certain year would be carried over to the next year. The opposition New Slovenia (NSi) was the only party that did not vote in favour.

Persons with disabilities under custodianship get right to vote

LJUBLJANA - Parliament unanimously passed changes to the National Assembly Election Act which abolish restrictions to the rights to vote and to be elected for persons put under custodianship due to their intellectual or psychosocial disabilities. The legislation concerns some 3,500 people and will apply as early as in the June EU elections. The changes also introduce an assistant a person can choose to help them exercise their right to vote. The assistant must be of legal age (18 or more).

Municipal aid to help keep heating cost manageable in Šalek Valley

VELENJE - Following a civil initiative-led uproar against a jump in district heating costs in Velenje and Šoštanj, the two municipalities announced aid subsidies amounting to 40% of heating expenses with a monthly cap of EUR 150. Along with what is termed a heating bonus, the councillors promised a 6% lower price of the variable part of the heating costs, as well as 10 euro subsidies per MWh for January and February and 5 euro subsides for March and April.

Work by photographer Kranjec exhibited at EU parliament

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The Overlooked, a photo exhibition by Slovenian Mankica Kranjec, opened at the European Parliament in Brussels to highlight the often overlooked women who play vital roles in society by sharing their inspiring stories. The exhibition features portraits of women across a wide range of professions, of different ages, as well as social and religious backgrounds, and short excerpts from interviews. The work shows how their many roles intertwine and overlap.

Exhibition on forgotten medieval town opens in National Museum

LJUBLJANA - An interactive exhibition telling the story of Gutenwerd, a thriving medieval town in what is today south-east Slovenia that was destroyed by the Ottomans, opened in the National Museum in Ljubljana. The exhibition aims to present the everyday lives of residents of Gutenwerd by means of some 600 exhibits put on display, which gives context to different archaeological, numismatic and written sources, said Tomaž Nabergoj from the National Museum.

© STA, 2024