News roundup - Thursday, 4 April

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

Slovenia calls for humanitarian access to children in war zones

NEW YORK, US - Addressing a meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Slovenia's deputy permanent representative Ondina Drobnič Blokar expressed outrage over the fact that children are being denied access to humanitarian aid in conflict zones worldwide. Slovenia finds this to be cruel and inhumane, she said. "Even in wars, there are rules," she underlined.

Slovenia endorses long-term sustainable aid to Ukraine

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said that the NATO foreign ministers had endorsed the idea of long-term sustainable aid to Ukraine as they met in Brussels. Details about this support, which has also been endorsed by Slovenia, are expected to be sorted out by the July summit in Washington. Fajon also met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken with the pair discussing the Middle East and Ukraine, and the preparations for the July NATO summit and ways to improve the strategic dialogue between Slovenia and the US.

Resnica alleged to have close ties with expelled Russian diplomat

LJUBLJANA - Two members of Resnica, a non-parliamentary party gearing up for the EU elections in June, have contacts with the Russian diplomat that Slovenia has recently declared persona non grata and expelled, Lt-Col Sergei Lemeshev, according to reports by the newspaper Delo and news portal 24ur. The party has denied being pro-Russian but confirmed contacts with Lemeshev.

List of top-paid doctors during Covid shows hefty earnings

LJUBLJANA - The news portal Necenzurirano released a list of best-paid doctors in UKC Ljubljana in December 2020, a peak of the Covid epidemic. The list, whose release was ordered by the court after lengthy back and forth between Necenzurirano and Slovenia's largest hospital, shows that some doctors earned more than EUR 20,000 that month, among them a top member of the Fides union, which has been on strike since mid-January.

Govt, Fides agree to extend mediation to end doctors strike

LJUBLJANA - After mediation between the government and doctors was launched under the auspices of the Bar Association last week eleven weeks into the longest strike in Slovenian history, the government okayed the extension of the mediation procedures, which was to expire today, by another week. The Fides trade union responded by agreeing to one more meeting.

Govt introducing fines for incorrect billing for health services

LJUBLJANA - The government introduced fines for incorrect billing for all health services. So far, fines have been envisaged only for incorrect billing for a few services, but not for most, the Government Communication Office said after today's session. By introducing the fines the government wants to increase the responsibility of healthcare service providers for fair billing for their services, because this is public spending, which must be well grounded, the government said.

Pahor urges EU to boost defence capabilities and enlarge

PRAGUE, Czechia - To continue to safeguard and strengthen peace and security, the EU must strengthen its defence capabilities in the face of the current geopolitical situation, Slovenia's former President Borut Pahor said at an event in Prague that marked 20 years since Czechia joined the EU. He urged enlargement to Ukraine, Moldova and the Balkans.

Janša proposes asylum centres be set up along western border

SREDIŠČE OB DRAVI - The head of the opposition Democrats (SDS), Janez Janša, visited Središče ob Dravi (NE) to express support to the locals' protest against plans to set up an asylum centre there. He said the government's decision was unreasonable and shocking, proposing instead that an asylum centre be set up along the western border. He said that when Prime Minister Robert Golob said that there is no difference between legal and illegal migration he extended an additional invitation to migrants to Slovenia and now wanted to "move this problem out of Ljubljana".

Slovenia's exports down 0.1% y/y in Feb, imports up 28%

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's exports of goods dropped by 0.1% to 4.5 billion in February over February 2023 while imports increased by 28.4% to EUR 5.5 billion, in what is the highest growth of imports since September 2022, the Statistics Office said. The growth was fuelled by imports of goods from non-EU countries, which rose by nearly 83%. But excluding operations involving processing, imports from non-EU countries were down by 8.5%.

Budget deficit widens in Q1

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's budget deficit totalled EUR 379 million in January-March, an 18% increase on the year before. Excluding the direct impact of emergency spending, it totalled EUR 278 million, show data released by the Fiscal Council. Total budget revenue rose by 4% to EUR 3.1 billion on the back of higher income tax receipts. Revenue from EU funds meanwhile declined by more than a quarter on the year before.

More state investment envisaged with bill reorganising Lipica stud farm

LJUBLJANA - Reversing the separation of the Lipica stud farm, known for its white Lipizzaner horses, and the site's tourism and hospitality facilities, the government confirmed changes envisaging a single, fully state-owned company in charge of the complex. The government says this will facilitate state investment and the farm's development. The stud farm, a major tourist attraction that has seen its share of business as well as professional challenges, will no longer be a holding with a separate subsidiary in charge of the horses but organised as a single company known as Kobilarna Lipica.

Registered unemployment drops below 47,000 in March

LJUBLJANA - Registered unemployment in Slovenia fell to 46,877 at the end of March, which is a 5.7% drop compared to late February and a 6.9% decrease year-on-year, the Employment Service said. In March, 4,292 newly unemployed persons were registered, which is 8.3% less than in February and 0.7% less than in March 2023. Among them, 1,695 registered with the service because their fixed-term contracts expired, which is down 13.5% on February and 10.2% less year-on-year.

Krka proposes 14% increase in dividend payment

NOVO MESTO - The management and supervisory boards of drug maker Krka proposed that shareholders get dividends of EUR 7.5 gross per share, a 13.6% increase on last year. The shareholder vote is scheduled for 11 July. The proposal means the company would allocate just over EUR 231 million for dividends, or 60% of its accumulated profit. EUR 75.4 million would be carried forward and EUR 75.4 million set aside for other profit reserves, the company announced.

Shell plans to stay in Slovenia, looking for new locations

LJUBLJANA - British oil giant Shell is determined to stay in Slovenia for the long term after it took over 39 MOL and OMV service stations last year, increasing its market share to around 12%. The group is now looking to acquire more sites, especially in central Slovenia and Gorenjska region, northwest.

EUR 80m in incentives available for renewable resources, e-mobility

LJUBLJANA - The state-owned electricity market operator Borzen will make available this year EUR 80 million in incentives for renewable energy sources and sustainable mobility for individuals in twelve calls for applications. On the occasion, the company promised faster and fully digitised procedures and a network of contact points. Borzen, which acts as the system operator of and the support centre for the electricity market, has become the new central point for the allocation of such incentives, as announced by the government last autumn.

Committee okays changes to excise duties on tobacco

LJUBLJANA - The Finance Committee okayed changes to the Excise Duty Act that raise excise duties for cigarettes and other tobacco products and introduce stricter control over unprocessed tobacco and lubricating oils. The changes, expected to enter into force in June, are to increase revenue from excise duties this year by some EUR 11 million.

Minister stresses importance of Barcelona Convention

LJUBLJANA - Minister of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning Jože Novak highlighted the importance of the Barcelona Convention as a two-day meeting of its bureau ended in Ljubljana. He welcomed the establishment of a new regional centre for climate change in the Mediterranean. The meeting took stock of the current situation and drafted recommendations for future implementation of the convention.

Long-time TV Slovenija news show anchor Janez Čuček dies

LJUBLJANA - Janez Čuček, a long-time anchor of the Dnevnik prime-time news show of the public broadcaster TV Slovenija, has died aged 87. Born in 1937 in Celje, Čuček worked for a newspaper for 20 years, an then joined the foreign desk of TV Slovenija, establishing himself not only as an anchor and editor of Dnevnik, but also as a journalist and commentator. During the Slovenian war of independence, he reported for the US TV station CNN. He retired in 1998.

Roma projects should be run by Roma, event hears

MARIBOR - Projects dedicated to the Roma community should be managed by Roma people, Fatmir Bečiri, the long-serving president of the longest-running Roma organisation in Maribor, said at an event held ahead of the International Romani Day, observed on 8 April. "If we can't run projects ourselves, we should at least be partners, so that we can achieve better results," Bečiri said, noting progress in tackling Roma issues.

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