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Slovenian report Slovenian report
by Euro Reporter
2012-04-01 06:01:57
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7 sentenced in Slovenia corruption trial

A court in Slovenia has sentenced seven people to up to two and a half years in prison each, concluding one of the biggest ever corruption cases in the small European Union nation. The District Court in the capital Ljubljana on Friday convicted the group of giving and taking bribes during a 2007 public bidding for construction of the air control tower at the airport.

The trial was closely watched in Slovenia. The defendants included some of the most powerful people in the country, such as construction magnate Ivan Zidar, who was sentenced to 17 months in prison.

Zidar's SCT has maintained influence since the communist-run Yugoslav era, when -- among other jobs -- it participated in construction of underground bunkers for Iraq's Saddam Hussein.


Slovenia may see a Greek scenario on failure to start savings

Slovenia may see a Greek scenario developing for its public finances if the euro-region nation fails to adopt savings measures, central bank Governor Marko Kranjec said in an interview with Delo newspaper. “If we don’t get serious and adopt savings measures, we may see a similar scenario that the Greeks are going through, when measures will be dictated by foreigners,” Kranjec said in the interview with the Ljubljana-based newspaper. “It’s better to do it ourselves than have these measures enforced from outside the country.”

The government of Prime Minister Janez Jansa proposed to cut spending by about 800 million Euros ($1.07 billion), which will help narrow the budget gap to below 3 percent by the end of the year after the shortfall widened to 6.4 percent last year, according to the Slovenian statistics office.  “At the last session of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt we have also discussed an analysis on the quality of the statistics of public finances,” Kranjec, who’s also a member of the ECB’s Governing Council, said. “Slovenia along with Greece was pointed out as the country where the reliability and the quality of budget deficit data is problematic.”

Kranjec said the Slovenian economy is forecast to shrink 1.2 percent this year. That compares with the 0.9 percent estimate by the government’s economic institute.


Slovenia's trade union threatens vote on austerity

Slovenia’s biggest trade union is threatening to organize a referendum on the government’s spending cuts that are meant to allay investors’ concern over the euro-region nation’s debt. If the government of Prime Minister Janez Jansa fails to take into account the union’s demands and the savings measures are deemed as “unjust,” the union will seek signatures from the public for a vote, the workers’ collective Zveza Svobodnih Sindikatov Slovenije said in an e-mailed statement today. “The proposed measures are unjust to the people and follow the ideology of neoliberal capitalism,” the Ljubljana-based group said in a statement. “We will do everything in our power to prevent their adoption or enforcement.”

Premier Janez Jansa’s administration, which took power last month after early elections in December, pledged to lower public spending by about 800 million Euros ($1.06 billion) and cut the budget deficit to below 3 percent of gross domestic product by year’s end by reducing public sector wages, benefits, pensions and jobless payments. The first post-communist nation to adopt the euro saw its public debt surge to 47.4 percent of economic output last year from 23 percent five years ago, according to Finance Minister Janez Sustersic.

Slovenians have voted down several government bills in referendums, including pension’s changes in June which would have extended the retirement age to 65. That rejection marked the beginning of the rise in the country’s borrowing costs and credit rating downgrades. The yield on the government benchmark bonds maturing in 2021 rose from 4.456 percent in June to 5.232 percent at 3:48 p.m. in Ljubljana today, according to mid-pricing data compiled by Bloomberg. The yield surged above 7 percent in November, when the debt crisis was threatening neighbouring Italy. Slovenia, which adopted the euro in 2007, has a credit rating of A+ with a negative outlook at Standard & Poor’s. The assessment was cut in two steps from AA, the third-highest investment grade, after the pension changes were rejected.

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