Vol. 5 Num 923 Sun. December 31, 2006  

Slovenia ready for changeover to euro

Slovenia is ready for the changeover from the tolar to the euro on January 1 and expects to benefit strongly as the 13th member of the European Monetary Union (EMU), Slovenian Finance Minister Andrej Bajuk said Friday.

"We are replacing something good (the Slovenian currency tolar) with something even better (the euro)," Bajuk told a joint news conference with central bank governor Mitja Gaspari.

The changeover will occur at midnight (2300 GMT) on December 31.

"I believe we are well-prepared for the changeover," Gaspari said.

As of January 1, the euro will replace the Slovenian tolar, a currency introduced in 1991 as a symbol of the tiny country's independence and an instrument aimed at cutting Belgrade's monetary control over Slovenian economy.

Under the exchange rate, one euro will equal 239.64 tolars.

Bajuk assured Slovenian citizens that the 0.4 percent increase of prices in December from the previous month and 2.8 percent on the 12-month period was not due to rounding upwards of prices.

"There is no link between that increase and the changeover to euro," Bajuk said.

He said some of the prices had increased for seasonal reasons while other increases might be attributed to a lack of competition in the infrastructure sector.

"We have to make a difference between the perceived inflation and the measured one," Bajuk said.

Some rounding upwards could happen in restaurants or supermarkets but "citizens have the right to choose, where, what and how they want to buy it," Bajuk said.

Gaspari said Slovenia's banking system is ready for the changeover and all testings of the system have been positive.