Good evening. Catch up on the main news of the day in less than five minutes with the Wednesday, August 25, 2021 edition of Today in Slovakia. We wish you a pleasant read.
Change at the Culture Ministry raises questions
The cabinet agreed at its first session after the summer break, held on August 25, to replace the state secretary (or deputy minister) of the Culture Ministry Zuzana Kumanová, nominated by the Za Ľudí party.
Some say she fell victim to the conflicts in the smallest party in the ruling coalition. A group of its members who support Mária Kolíková is calling on the current chair, Veronika Remišová, to summon a party congress at which they want to remove her from the post. Remišová has repeatedly thwarted these efforts.
She was the one who initiated the dismissal of Kumanová, and the faction already claimed that it was part of her games within the party. They point to the fact that Viera Leščáková, who will be appointed tomorrow, has no experience but is loyal to Remišová.
Kumanová responded to her dismissal by telling the media that she did not hear the reasons for her departure from Remišová. She did not know about any complaints about her work or opinions either.
Meanwhile, some 40 Roma personalities signed an open letter, in which they called on PM Eduard Heger (OĽaNO) to reconsider the proposal to dismiss Kumanová, who is also Roma. However, he said that these proposals are fully in the hands of the Za Ľudí party.
Minimum wage should increase next year
The minimum wage will go up to €646 a month in 2022.
The final sum was announced by Labour Minister Milan Krajniak (Sme Rodina) after the tripartite negotiations, which took place between the government, trade unions and business representatives last week.
This means that the automated status quo will be upheld, which dictates that the minimum wage should be no less than 57 percent of the average wage from two months ago. Thus, the minimum wage saw a year-on-year growth of €23.
The tripartite meeting did not rule in favour of the Confederation of Trade Unions, which demanded the adjustment of the automated increase of the minimum wage to 60 percent. Had their wishes been fulfilled, the minimum wage for 2022 would have been €680 a month.
On the contrary, the tripartite meeting ended in favour of employers, who recommended a status quo automation.
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Coronavirus and vaccination news
- 81 people were diagnosed as Covid-positive out of 5,380 PCR tests performed on August 25. The number of people in hospitals has increased to 71. The vaccination rate is at 42.88 percent; 2,358,575 people have received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
- 78 percent of people identified as Covid-positive in the past two weeks were not fully vaccinated against Covid, according to the Health Ministry's data. The ministry added that the number of districts with a share of vaccinated people aged 50+ is on the rise, while 21 percent of children aged 12-18 have been vaccinated. Yet, Slovakia still lags behind the average vaccination rate in the EU by 20 percentage points, said Matej Mišík, head of the Institute for Health Analyses, running under the Health Ministry.
- 14 districts will be in the orange tier of the warning system, known as the Covid automat, as of next Monday, August 30. The stricter rules will be applied in the districts of Banská Štiavnica, Bardejov, Gelnica, Kežmarok, Košice I-IV, Košice-okolie, Levoča, Nové Zámky, Poprad, Vranov nad Topľou, and Žiar nad Hronom.
- The course of the third pandemic wave will be decided by the number of unvaccinated people aged 50 and upwards, said PM Eduard Heger (OĽaNO). He stressed that vaccination is the only way to live freely and without measures.
- Only fully vaccinated people will meet with Pope Francis during his mid-September visit, said Health Minister Vladimír Lengvarský (OĽaNO), adding this condition will not change or be extended to include people with negative test results or proof of recovery from Covid. So far, some 33,000 have registered for the events held during the papal visit.
- It is possible the Covid automat will change in the future, the health minister admitted, saying they are still discussing some comments from experts. The final decision has not been made yet, but it may come in the next two weeks, he added.
- Slovakia's temporary permission for the therapeutic use of the parasitic medication Ivermectin to treat Covid-19, granted in January 2021, has expired, and no request to restore it has been delivered to the ministry.
Picture of the day
Workers have started to remove pigeon droppings from St Elizabeth's Cathedral in Košice that are causing damage to the interior. The project is supported by the Culture Ministry, which allocated €18,500 for it.
Feature story for today
Are you preparing for a flight during pandemic times? Then brace yourself. Helpless to contain the coronavirus – which like the 9/11 hijackers has excelled its forerunners in sheer deviousness – governments are now slamming the stable door on travellers’ faces instead, writes James Thomson of his recent experience.
In other news
- The cabinet gave a green light to several drafts at its August 25 session, the first held after the summer break. Among the approved drafts are the amendments to the Education Act and the draft disciplinary rules that will make it possible for the recently established Supreme Administrative Court to hold disciplinary proceedings concerning judges, prosecutors, notaries and distrainors.
- The cabinet approved an agreement with the European Labour Authority on its seat in Slovakia. It will reside on Landererova Street in Bratislava in a building rented by a company belonging to J&T Real Estate.
- Marián Valentovič will no longer serve as the head of the Central Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family (ÚPSVaR) and will be replaced by Karol Zimmer, who currently serves as the general secretary of the Labour Ministry’s service office. Labour Minister Milan Krajniak (Sme Rodina), who proposed the dismissal, said there might be more dismissals at ÚPSVaR.
- Vladimír Pčolinský, former director of the Slovak Information Service (SIS) intelligence agency, will remain in custody, the Supreme Court decided on Wednesday. It dismissed his complaint against an earlier decision of the Specialised Criminal Court.
- It should be possible to drive at 130 km/h on the highway section in Bratislava, but there might be some signs limiting the speed on certain stretches at certain times. The changes will become effective gradually; the first will be introduced on the D1 stretch between the Bratislava, Pečňa and the Vajnory exits tomorrow. Currently, the limit is set at 90 km/h.
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