3.1 Billion Kuna Secured for Projects in Krapina-Zagorje County

By 20 March 2019

The continental Croatian county of Krapina-Zagorje and Krapina itself are both doing very well in terms of the amount of EU funds contracted for various projects over the last couple of years.

As Marta Duic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 19th of March, 2019, Krapina is the seventeenth town in which the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds, in cooperation with institutions in the EU funds management and control system, have succesfully organised the informative and educational event ''Regional EU Fund Days'' with the aim of better informing the general public about the possibilities of funding from EU funds, as well as the strengthening of regional development and the overall social and economic growth of the Republic of Croatia.

Krapina-Zagorje County, of fourteen continental Croatian counties, is somewhere in the middle when it comes to using EU funds, while Krapina alone is currently implementing projects worth 125 million kuna.

"Although Krapina has been talking about EU funds for years, it took time to actually start something, with problems with the shortage of labour and at the same time a great deal of work [that needed to be done]. But today we can boast about a series of projects funded with EU funds," said Zoran Gregurović, Krapina's mayor.

"In just a little over two years, the intensity of the announcement of tenders has increased, and by the end of 2016, Croatia was at nine percent of contracted EU funds, a year later it was at 35 percent, and according to the results at the end of last month, we're currently at 64 percent of the contracted funds. In Krapina-Zagorje County, projects worth one billion and three hundred million kuna have now been contracted,'' said Velimir Žunac, State Secretary at the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds.

Croatia is, while taking into account the cost of European Union membership, in a plus, and by more than ten billion euros, by the year 2023, that figure will be even higher, the State Secretary encouragingly said. There was also an interesting panel discussion on the development of Krapina, where numerous projects were presented, indicating that Krapina-Zagorje County has some great potential across several sectors.

There are, therefore, projects currently being carried out, of which Crna kraljica (Black queen) is highlighted, a significant project worth 3 million kuna relating to the doing up and the renewal of the Old Town of Krapina, the Forma Prima sculpture park in Josipovac Forest, and the construction of a 300-metre-long pedestrian bridge connecting these locations. Other projects which involve street construction, kindergarten works and waste management are also in the works.

In addition to the above mentioned projects, Gregurović mentioned the problems that are also being faced.

"A large number of projects got the go ahead from our own resources too, which was a burden for us with regard to our financial capacity and the share of financing," Gregurović said, and as an example, he used the Sports and Recreation Centre in Podgora. It was approved, as was 40 percent of the cofinancing, and the city had to allocate 1.7 million kuna of its own finances to it. Although there is interest in the measures set out by the Rural Development Program, Gregurović says it is hampered by the high development index. "We lost points due to the development index when we registered for the Youth Centre, and we don't have enough resources to prepare the project documentation, so we hope the ministry will increase the funds that it allocates within the framework of the cofinancing of EU projects,'' said Gregurović.

Development would certainly not be possible without EU funds, said Vlatka Mlakar, head of the Public Procurement Department and EU funds of Krapina-Zagorje County.

"We've noted a positive contracting trend over the last two years, with the contracting rate in the area of ​​our county being 42 percent higher in 2018 than it was the year before. Looking at 2017 and 2018, the value of contracted projects stands at 1.3 billion kuna,'' said Mlakar. She added that more tenders mean more market demand.

She also announced a strategic project currently being implemented and worth 33 million kuna - the construction of a Business-technology incubator. Numerous projects have also been being carried out in the area of ​​education and health, including the project of energy renewal in nine schools, three of which are now complete.

"We're focused on the new financial period, we've got a lot of plans, and we have several strategic projects - the doing up of the hospital in Krapinske Toplice in the amount of 150 million kuna, then the Zagorje Scientific-education centre worth 120 million kuna, and a competence center worth 85 million kuna. Public procurement procedures are important because the success of every EU project lies there - the rules must be respected, as should be the procedures, the regulations, and the state commission's control procedures should be followed,'' Mlakar said.

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Click here for the original article by Marta Duic for Poslovni Dnevnik