Books on Slovenia
Update No: 117 - (22/02/07)
It is a happy land that has no history, or contemporary
history at least. Slovenia certainly has a history, but by comparison with its
strife-torn former members of the Yugoslav Federation it is lucky. Only 79
people were killed in its secession from that doomed entity.
This is 79 too many for sure (and doubtless many maimed as well), but it is
better than the quarter of a million killed in Bosnia, not to speak of Serbia
In so far as it has disputes they are at least about peaceful domestic matters,
such as control of the economy.
Slovene president, PM, in dispute over new Central Bank governor
Slovenia's President Janez Drnovsek refused on February 12th to withdraw his
candidate for the new Central Bank governor, despite fierce opposition to the
appointment from the ruling party. The row between Drnovsek and Prime Minister
Janez Jansa could trigger a crisis, since the term of the current governor,
Mitja Gaspari, expires March 31.
The dispute threatens to damage the image of Slovenia, which adopted the euro on
Jan.1 and won plaudits for its smooth transition to the single currency. Its
Central Bank governor is automatically a member of the European Central Bank.
Drnovsek's candidate - vice governor Andrej Rant - is unlikely to get support in
parliament, which is to vote on him soon. Jansa's Slovene Democratic Party
controls the majority in the chamber.
The procedure of appointing and voting for a new bank governor usually takes
weeks and could last until after Gaspari's term is over.
In Slovenia, the president appoints a new governor, but his choice must be
approved by parliament. It has already rejected Drnovsek's recommendation for
Gaspari to get a second mandate.
Jansa had accused Gaspari of forecasting potential future financial troubles for
Slovenia in his internal bank reports - a view Jansa claimed was not backed up
by any other analysis. But critics claimed Jansa's centre-right party was
against Gaspari because he is close to Drnovsek's former ruling party, the
centre-left Liberal Democrats, now in opposition.
But Slovenia has a future
Slovenia has arrived. It is to have the presidency of the EU in 2008. PM Janez
Jansa believes that, if one compares it with other states which were to take on
EU presidency for the first time, the pace of Slovenia's preparations for the
task is adequate, he told a traditional meeting of Slovenian diplomats recently.
He stressed that alongside the implementation of economic and social reforms,
the preparations for the EU presidency are the government's top priority, as he
addressed the meeting, focusing on EU presidency preparations. Jansa added that
Slovenia is already working together with Portugal and Germany as the two
countries preceding it at the helm of the EU, as well as with other EU members
which could help with the experience.
What is to be the theme of its presidency?
The Athens-Ljubljana axis
Slovenia and Greece are at the other ends of the Balkans. But they have
something very important in common - they are the two established members of the
True - Bulgaria and Romania have just joined. But they are neophytes, deeply
under suspicion, in probation almost. The Slovenes and Greeks are at a
comparable stage of development, with curiously enough about the same per capita
They share something more important in common - they are the natural gateways to
the Balkan region.
To join hands in integrating the Western Balkans into Europe, that is the noble
goal of the new axis between them.
The triumphal tour
Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is mustard keen on this idea. He went
on a tour of the region in mid-January.
On January 15th he stressed that Slovenia serves as an example for all the
countries aspiring to join the Union and wishing to "share with us the
benefits of European integration." Addressing an event in Ljubljana
celebrating Slovenia's entrance into the euro-zone, Karamanlis, noted that
Slovenia's case is an "example that clearly demonstrates that our Union is
open to all those that adopt its rules and fulfil all the conditions and
criteria (for membership)."
Karamanlis arrived in the Slovenian capital on January 14th -- following his
official visit to neighbouring Croatia -- to attend celebratory events
commemorating the country's highly prized entrance into the euro-zone, as the
one-time former Yugoslav republic on Jan. 1, 2007 became the 13th member-state
to introduce the single European currency.
Karamanlis joined European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, German
Chancellor Angela Merkel -- whose country currently holds the EU presidency --
and European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, among others, at a
reception hosted by Slovenian Premier Janez Jansa. Slovenia's euro-zone
membership also coincided with the 15th anniversary of the country's
"This development (Slovenia's euro-zone entry) sends a message that
continuing European integration is more attractive than ever. It is a very
significant message in the current junction vis-a-vis the blueprint for the
European edifice, whereas it is also a positive message of confidence in the
European economy and currency," he said in his address.
The Greek PM also stressed that Slovenia serves as an example for all the
countries aspiring to join the Union and wishing to "share with us the
benefits of European integration".
Karamanlis, in fact, indirectly touched on neighbouring Turkey's increasingly
complicated EU course, as he noted that Slovenia's case is an "example that
clearly demonstrates that our Union is open to all those that adopt its rules
and fulfil all the conditions and criteria (for membership)."
Finally, Karamanlis congratulated the Slovenian people and leadership over the
country's historic membership in the euro-zone, reminding that Athens vigorously
backed the country's accession as the 13th euro-zone member. The country of two
million introduced the euro on Jan. 1, becoming the first of the 10 countries to
join the bloc two years ago that satisfied economic criteria needed to join the
Strategic Council Recommends Flat Tax Rate of 20%
The big thing has happened. A body advising the government on economic
matters has made an official recommendation that Slovenia adopt a flat tax rate
Meeting in Ljubljana, the Strategic Council for Economic Development concluded
that Slovenia can afford the flat tax rate in terms of welfare and budget
According to Joze P. Damijan, a member of the Council, the body decided to
recommend a flat tax rate after it reviewed results of a preliminary feasibility
study. He said a 20% rate is the most optimal.
The Council believes the flat tax rate should be introduced after Slovenia
adopts the euro, expectedly at the beginning of 2007, in order to avoid major
economic shocks that could derail the adoption process, Damijan said.
Prime Minister Janez Jansa attended the meeting of the Council. According to
Damijan, Jansa supports in principle the idea of a flat tax rate.
"The government will have to decide whether to accept our proposal or not.
It should be aware that the tax reform would require that other reforms be
undertaken: social security payments, health care, etc," said Damijan.
The study shows that the state stands to lose around SIT 200bn (EUR 834m) in
income tax and payroll tax as a consequences of the lower tax rate, Damijan
said. However, some of this can be made up with greater tax revenues from VAT,
while the state will also save on taxes it has to pay for public sector
According to head of the Council Mico Mrkaic, the flat tax rate would prove
conducive for economic growth. "I hope that this proposal will secure wide
public backing," he said.
Moreover, Damijan said that the Council would recommend to the group studying
the feasibility of a flat tax rate to continue its work so that a final report
on the matter could be presented in two to three months.
Electronic maker opens factory in Russia
Iskra Avtoelektrika, the Sempeter pri Gorici-based maker of electronic
components for the car industry, recently opened a new factory in Rzhev, Russia,
according to news website reporter.gr.
The Pramo Iskra venture company has a share capital of US$200,000 and will
manufacture starters for cars, mainly for the Russian market, Iskra
Avtoelektrika was cited as saying. Pramo Iskra, which will initially employ 60
workers, is part of Iskra Avtoelektrika's efforts to increase its presence on
the Russian market, it was reported. The company plans to hold a 20 per cent
market share by the end of this year. The factory's annual output will max out
at 250,000 starters, with sales revenues projected at US$ five million in 2007.
According to the news website, the company expects to gradually increase
production and projects sales revenues of US$ eight million in 2009.
Abanka Vipa Bank ranks third by assets
Slovenia's Abanka Vipa Bank ranked third by assets made a successful
international road show - netting 120 million Euro from various European
investors - the bank said in Ljubljana, according to website reporter.gr.
The money, invested mainly by British (39 per cent), Italian (15 per cent) and
Swiss (ten per cent) investors, will enable Abanka to issue bonds for the
financing of a loan, the bank said. The transaction was to be completed in
January. This is the first international issue of bonds for the bank and the
first Slovenian international bonds issue following the January 1st, Euro
changeover, the press release said. Abanka Vipa posted profit after tax of 20
million Euro for 2005, an increase of 17 per cent year-on-year, it was reported.
Nafta Lendava to build Biodiesel refinery in Slovenia
Oil refinery Nafta Lendava and its Austrian partner CMB Maschinenbau &
Handels announced they would build the biggest biodiesel refinery in Slovenia
and one of the biggest refineries of the kind in Europe, according to news
The 22.2 million Euro refinery will open at the beginning of 2008, and its
annual production of 60,000 tonnes of biodiesel will amount to 88 per cent of
the total production in Slovenia, and one per cent of the total EU production,
it was reported. The presentation of the project in Lendava was attended by
Slovenian Economy Minister, Andrej Vizjak, and Environment Minister, Janez
Podobnik. Vizjak was cited by the news website as saying that energy was the key
foundation for the economy, especially in the EU. The bloc relies on imports for
50 per cent of its energy needs and for 82 per cent of its oil needs, a figure
which will reach 93 per cent by 2030. According to Vizjak, the problem could be
solved with projects which reduce Europe's dependence on imported energy. The
European Commission had already adopted provisions aimed at increasing the use
of renewable sources from seven percent to 20 per cent by 2020, he added. The
directors of Nafta Lendava subsidiary Nafta Biodizel and the Austrian partner
were cited as saying the project would reduce Slovenia's dependence on imported
mineral fuels and increase the use of alternative energy sources. The refinery
will create 23 new and 50 indirect jobs, while the laboratory for testing other
oils for potential biodiesel production will have an education centre, it was
reported. About 60,000 tonnes of vegetable oil and 6,000 tonnes of methanol will
be refined in the yearly biodiesel production, which will be 7.5 times higher
than the total production in Slovenia in 2005.
FOOD & DRINK
Merger talks re-launched between dairies
Loss-making dairies Pomurske mlekarne and Mlekarna Celeia have re-launched talks
about a possible tie-up. Both are facing losses, they need to modernise
production and doubling of capacity would not make sense; they realise that only
streamlining can improve results, Pomurske Mlekarne Chairman, Ivan Rotdajc, was
cited as saying. His statement came after business daily Finance reported that
the dairies are being prodded towards a merger by its creditor banks NLB, NKBM,
PBS and Probanka. The paper also said that the banks have made it clear they
would close the tap if the dairies do not join forces.
According to projections by Finance, Pomurske mlekarne will post an operating
loss in excess of two million Euro for 2006, while Mlekarna Celeia - which has
much lower assets, but higher revenues than Pomurske Mlekarne - is expected to
post a loss of 400,000 Euro, New Europe reported.
6.8m Euro software deal with Microsoft concluded
The Slovenian Public Administration Ministry concluded a 6.8 million Euro deal
with US software giant Microsoft at the end of 2006 for a three-year contract
involving licenses for Microsoft software, according to news website reporter.gr.
The ministry said that the deal was joined by 123 public administration
institutions, including municipalities, social care centres and agencies. The
new deal comes after the previous 6.25 million Euro contract, concluded in 2003,
which ran out at the end of last year, it was reported. The ministry also said
it currently has no plans to completely migrate to open source software. While
several open source solutions are used, such as the Linux operating system,
along with various firewalls and the Apache web server, civil servants do not
plan to switch now to OpenOffice.org, an open source office suite. The issues
that prevent the use of open source software include costs of training, issues
of compatibility with the existing documents and a lack of available local help
and support, the ministry explained.
DARS' 2006 motorway construction at 477.8m Euro
The Motorway Company (DARS) constructed 477.8 million Euro worth of motorways
and other roads in Slovenia in 2006, meeting 99 per cent of the national
motorway programme for 2006, DARS Chairman, Rajko Sirocic, was quoted by website
reporter.gr as saying.
Sirocic was pleased with the mild winter, as it enabled the company to make up
for the delays in construction, caused by the harsh weather conditions last
winter. The company's construction plan for 2007 was mulled by ministries and is
expected to amount to 550 million Euro, 50 million Euro less than the original
plan, drafted in October, Sirocic added. The plan calls for the construction of
the Maribor-Lenart section, a part of the Prekmurje section in NE part of
Slovenia. DARS also wants to complete the sections between Hajdina and Ptuj
(NE), the connecting road to the seaport of Koper (SW) and the Tabor-Barnice
tunnel in western Slovenia. DARS is committed to completing the motorway section
Sentvid-Koseze, in a bid to speed-up traffic at the northern thoroughfares to
Ljubljana. The 263 million Euro section, which includes a one-kilometre tunnel,
is the most demanding unfinished section in 2007, DARS said.
Railways becoming more important mode of transport
The quantity of goods transported via railway and the number of tonne kilometres
made in railway transport increased by 2.9 per cent and 3.1 per cent,
respectively, in November 2006 from November 2005, website reporter.gr said.
Moreover, the number of passengers carried in road transport and in railway
transport increased by 2.2 per cent and 1.9 per cent, respectively, in the same
period. The number of passenger kilometres made was up in road and railway
transport (by 11.8 per cent and 4.7 per cent) and down in air transport (by 1.7
per cent). In the same comparison, the number of passengers carried in urban
transport decreased by 2.9 per cent. The number of road cross-border entries of
passengers increased by 10.7 per cent. The traffic of passengers at airports
grew by 8.4 per cent. The quantity of goods carried increased in railway
transport (by 2.9 per cent) and decreased in maritime transport (by 1.5 per
cent). Traffic of goods in ports and at airports rose by 25.1 per cent and 59.0
per cent, respectively. Additionally, the number of motor vehicles registered
for the first time and the number of passenger cars registered for the first
time increased by 11.3 per cent and 12.2 per cent, respectively.