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The Euro Hits Slovenia

15 January 2007 - Features - Editor

Slovenia is located south of Austria, and has been in a transmission period of fifteen years, to eradicate itself from its former communist status. Adopting the Euro as Slovenia’s currency has been a five year process, as the government prepared the people of Slovenia for the change over. Slovenia is the thirteenth member of the European Union, and the only one of ten countries that joined the European Union in 2004, that makes the switch before 2009. The Euro currency was first introduced in the year 2002.

Preparing for the currency change over meant that many facilities had to be terminated for approximately three hours before midnight on 31 December 2006. Automatic teller machines needed to be supplied with the new currency, credit card facilities had to be adjusted, and even petrol stations needed to close, while the change over was taking place. A few customers claimed that the transition did bring a little confusion to their New Years celebrations, as waitresses and bar tenders were flooded with different currencies, and had to round off amounts, which were usually larger. Price hikes and difficulties have been predicted, by analysts, before the currency change over. But incidents like these were few, as restaurants and other institutions had prepared themselves for the New Year currency turmoil, and most business made the transition without any problems. The public have also shown a growing panic at the thought of increased prices.

All though Slovenia had prepared the public, trained all administrative personnel and have ensured that the banks were ready, Andrej Bajuk, Slovenia’s Finance Minister, urged citizens not to use the teller machines on Monday morning unless it is an emergency, to ensure that the transition runs smoothly. To further assist citizens in the change over of the currency, Slovene Tolar will be permitted, to be used together with the Euro, until 15 January 2007, after which only the Euro will have monetary value. In the spirit of the transition, Andrej Bajuk will draw the first Euro from an automatic teller machine and Mitja Gaspari, the Central Bank Governor, will exchange the first tolars for Euros.

So far, Bajuk has reported, that the transition has run without any major problems, and Gaspari has assured the public that the banks have prepared well in advance for this moment, and laid to rest any fears that the country might run out of Euros, while everyone rushes to exchange their tolars. Banks have been supplied with more than two billion euros, which is twice the amount of tolars that is currently in circulation.

And while the euro patiently waited for its time to shine, a laser sign decorated the skies with: “The Euro is Coming”, amidst a sea of New Years celebrations and fireworks.

 


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