Friday, 21 January 2022

Croatia Among EU Countries with Biggest Fall in Public Debt to GDP Ratio

ZAGREB, 21 Jan 2022 - At the end of the third quarter of 2021 the public debt to GDP ratio in the EU and euro area decreased, reflecting an accelerated economic recovery from the corona crisis, and Croatia was among the most successful in lowering the debt-to-GDP ratio, according to the data provided by Eurostat on Friday.

Economic activity in the EU and the euro area picked up strongly last summer thanks to intensive vaccination rollout programs coupled with the relaxation of anti-epidemic measures.

Governments stepped up borrowing to finance support measures for enterprises and households and accelerated economic recovery resulted in a lower debt to GDP ratio.

In the end of the third quarter of 2021, the government debt to GDP ratio decreased to 90.1% from 90.9% in the preceding quarter and to 97.7% in the euro area from 98.3%.

Compared with the third quarter of 2020, the government debt to GDP ratio rose in both the euro area by 1.1 percentage points and 0.9 percentage points in the whole EU.

Croatia alongside Austria and Hungary

The highest ratios of government debt to GDP at the end of the third quarter of 2021 were recorded in Greece (200.7%), Italy (155.3%), Portugal (130.5%), Spain (121.8%), France (116.0%), Belgium (111.4%) and Cyprus (109.6%).

The consolidated government debt in Croatia at the end of September 2021 amounted to HRK 344.7 billion, which was an 82.4% share of GDP. At the end of June, it was HRK 340.8 billion or 86.1% of GDP.

At the end of September 2020, Croatia's government debt to HRK 326 billion or 84.7% of GDP.

The closest results to Croatia were registered in Hungary and Austria with ratios of 80.3% and 84.1% of GDP respectively.

The lowest government debt to GDP ratios was registered in Estonia (19.6%), Bulgaria (24.2%), and Luxembourg (25.3%), Eurostat reported.

At the end of the third quarter of 2021, the largest decreases in government debt to GDP ratio compared to the previous quarter were recorded in Greece (-6.6 pp), Portugal (-4.9 pp), Croatia (-3.7 pp), Cyprus, and Belgium (both -2.3 pp), Czechia (-2.2 pp), and Austria (-2.1 pp).

The largest increases in the ratio were observed in Hungary (+2.9 percentage points – pp), France (+1.5 pp), and Romania (+1.1 pp).

Croatia was among those countries with the greatest decrease in government debt to GDP compared to September 2020 (-2.3 pp).

The largest decreases compared to September 2020  were observed in Cyprus (-6.4 pp), Ireland (-3.6 pp), the Netherlands (-2.5 pp), Denmark (-2.4 pp), Croatia (-2.3 pp), and Sweden (-2.2 pp).

The largest increases in the ratio were recorded in Spain (+7.8 pp), Hungary (+6.5 pp), Malta (+5.7 pp), Austria (+5.6 pp), and Romania (+5.5 pp), Eurostat reported.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.


Friday, 21 January 2022

Europe Has to Assume Greater Responsibility for Its Security, Croatian FM Says

ZAGREB, 21 Jan 2022 - European countries should assume greater responsibility for their own security through NATO and the EU given that the United States "is increasingly preoccupied with the Indo-Pacific and China," Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Friday.

"Because of all that as well as the fact that we no longer live in stable post-Cold War times, the EU can no longer rely only on soft security instruments, but must develop capabilities for independent crisis management, including military ones," he said in a Conference on the Future of Europe debate in Pula.

Still, he added, Croatia "clearly sees NATO as the main guarantor of Euro-Atlantic security and its NATO membership as the main protection from possible external aggression."

"We advocate further deepening the partnership with NATO, which remains the cornerstone of our collective defense, and strengthening cooperation with the most important partner, the United States, in a score of topics," said Grlić Radman.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias also took part in the debate, saying that strengthening Europe's defense policy is complementary to NATO.

"Can we rely on NATO? For Greece, and we have a real security problem, there is no dilemma. The European defense initiative is of use for NATO and Euro-Atlantic cooperation," he said, adding that those are not two "antagonistic" concepts.

The most prominent advocate of strengthening European defense cooperation and creating a European army is French President Emmanuel Macron.

"We must be realistic. If we want the EU as a global actor, we must start at home and in our neighborhood. We need more unity and more solidarity. We must take others' security problems very seriously," Dendias said.

Grlić Radman reiterated Croatia's stand on the need to change Bosnia and Herzegovina's electoral law before this year's vote in order to prevent the more numerous Bosniaks from electing Croat representatives in the House of Peoples and the Croat member of the Presidency.

"BiH is at a crossroads. An agreement on changes to the electoral law and restricted constitutional changes would improve the political atmosphere in the country and replace the existing mistrust between the key political parties, with a view to achieving a more stable and more prosperous BiH," he said.

"The absence of an agreement would push Bosnia deeper into a political crisis with fatal consequences," he said, reiterating that Croatia pushes for BiH as one state of three constituent peoples and two entities.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Friday, 21 January 2022

Croatian Island Product Designation Example of Promoting Economy, PM Says

ZAGREB, 21 Jan 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković attended a Croatian Island Product award ceremony for 2020 and 2021 in the town of Pag on Pag island on Friday, saying it was a great example of promoting the economy, cuisine, and farm products.

The Croatian Island Product designation is awarded by the Regional Development and EU Funds Ministry. For 2020, it was given to 27 producers for 45 products and for 2021, to 23 producers for 78 products.

The designation is given to applied arts and design products, chemical products, foodstuffs, and beverages.

To date, the designation has been given to 320 producers for 1,094 products from 24 islands.

The prime minister said the islands were part of Croatia's riches and among the most attractive tourist destinations.

"Tourists want a domestic product, the Croatian Island Product. The producers have tried to emancipate all our tradition in a visible and recognizable way," he said, adding that the government has "enhanced the strategic framework of improving life on the islands as well as the legal, program, and financial framework of extending support to the islands."

He recalled that the islands are part of the national development strategy up to 2030.

Had there been no coronavirus, he said, all topics would have focused on climate change, which affects life on the islands. He underlined the green and digital tradition, saying that the latter is a huge opportunity for island people.

"We have opened the labor market to digital nomads as well as to our people. One can actually work from any part of the world via internet platforms. It's necessary to establish a stimulating enterprise infrastructure. There's also nature and environmental protection and the use of renewable energy sources. Everything will continue to be done so that people continue to live on the islands and Pag is one of the brighter examples," Plenković said.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Friday, 21 January 2022

Culture Ministry Approves HRK 410,000 to Support Book Stores

ZAGREB, 21 Jan 2022 - The Ministry of Culture and Media has approved HRK 410,000 (€54,600) in support of book stores as part of a call to finance public needs in 2022, the ministry said in a press release on Friday.

Ten book stores applied for funding for literary programs and the ministry has decided to co-finance nine beneficiaries.

The highest grant of HRK 75,000 (€10,000) )will go to the Giardini2 book club in Pula.

The funds are granted to help pay for guest appearances by authors and translators, book signing events, programs to promote reading, workshops, and book clubs.

Book stores can also apply for entrepreneurship programs for cultural and creative industries and for a public call for awards for the best book stores and antique book shops.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Friday, 21 January 2022

Central State Office for Reconstruction Plans 60 Houses in Two Tenders

ZAGREB, 21 Jan 2022 - The Central State Office for Reconstruction and Housing on Friday said that it had advertised two public tenders for the construction of a total of 60 standard brick houses, with nine and eight bids have been submitted for them respectively.

The office notes that it has received 490 decisions from the Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction, and State Assets and now the situation in the field needs to be determined.

Documents are being prepared for 160 family houses and a tender for these should be advertised by the end of February the office said in a press release.

The office added that procedures for public tenders have been launched, and earthquake retrofitting for a further 900 family houses, estimated at HRK 30.3 million, is in the pipeline.

The decision for retrofitting of apartment buildings

Procedures for a public tender for the construction of pre-fabricated houses are going according to plan the central office for reconstruction said.

The office has received 14 decisions related to the seismic retrofitting of apartment blocks which were prepared by the ministry, nine decisions refer to buildings, four residential and commercial buildings, and one residential and commercial building which is a listed building.

Public tenders will be launched for the preparation of documents for the seismic retrofitting of 22 apartment blocks and residential and commercial buildings with an estimated value of HRK 6.15 million.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Friday, 21 January 2022

Gov't Transfers Ownership of Former Ironworks and Tools Factory Area to Osijek County

ZAGREB, 21 Jan 2022 - A HRK 58 million (€7.7m) deed of gift transferring state ownership of a 55,000-square-metre complex of the former ironworks and tools plant in Osijek to Osijek-Baranja County was signed on Friday by State Assets Minister Darko Horvat and County Prefect Ivan Anušić.

At the document-signing ceremony, it was emphasized that the local authorities are planning to conduct a brownfield investment to revitalize the area.

The brownfield revitalization envisages the construction of scientific and research centers for the agricultural and food-producing sector as well as the IT industry, a sports incubator which will have a swimming pool and other amenities, blocks of flats for researchers as well as for coaches and other employees hired by the sports incubator, and facilities for the alternative cultural scene.

Osijek Mayor Ivan Radić said that the project will help revitalize a wider area of this largest eastern Croatian city.

Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Nataša Tramišak said that her ministry had already earmarked HRK 2.7 million (€360,000) for the preparation of the necessary project and technical documentation.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Friday, 21 January 2022

Plenković and Gotovina Pay Tribute to Defenders Killed in Operation Maslenica

ZAGREB, 21 Jan 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and retired General Ante Gotovina on Friday paid tribute to the Croatian soldiers killed in 1993 Operation Maslenica.

"This is an opportunity to remember all Croatian defenders, soldiers, and police, who gave their lives for the freedom of Croatia and the Croatian state, which had been desired by generations of Croats for centuries and which we now have," Plenković said during a ceremony at the monument near Maslenica Bridge in Zadar County.

"Croatia is now a free, democratic, and developed member of NATO and the European Union, and all this would not have been possible without the defenders. Once again, on behalf of the government, ahead of tomorrow's anniversary, I wish to thank them and their families for everything they did for Croatia," the prime minister said.

Gotovina said that the purpose of Operation Maslenica was to push the Serb forces as deeply as possible into the hinterland to ensure the free flow of traffic, put Zadar's Zemunik airport into operation, and put the Peruča dam under control.

"The operation was completed and its goals were achieved. We had 180 personnel killed several hundred wounded, and we paid our respects to those people. It is thanks to them that today we have a sovereign state, a safe country, and a free society," Gotovina said.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Friday, 21 January 2022

Bridge and Social Democrats Criticise Gov't for Poor Handling of Galloping Inflation

ZAGREB, 21 Jan 2022 - The Bridge and Social Democrats groups in the Croatian Parliament on Friday used the discussion on the new law on consumer protection to criticize the government for its poor handling of "galloping inflation."

"Everyone is protecting their citizens except the Croatian government, which says it might do something (about the inflation)," Social Democrat Davor Bernardić said, calling on MPs to support their proposal to freeze the prices of staples.

"In the last 10 months, every other food product has gone up in price. Prices of some products have increased by 150 percent, and the price of toilet paper has gone up by as much as 50 percent," he added.

Bridge's Nikola Grmoja wondered if the government was thinking of protecting consumers from its unreasonable decisions, such as a freeze on fuel prices. He instead called for the abolition of excise taxes on fuel, because otherwise "the cost will again be borne by consumers."

Lawmakers from the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) said the new law on consumer protection was a "serious step forward." They welcomed the fact that the dual quality of goods, namely the marketing in Croatia of goods purporting to be of the same quality as those placed on the market in other EU member states even though they differ in composition and quality, would be treated as an unfair trading practice.

Barbara Antolić from the Social Democratic Party (SDP) welcomed the new law but noted that it lacked qualified people to monitor its implementation because inspectors were not trained well enough for online sales.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Friday, 21 January 2022

Split County Emergency Medical Service Gets Ten New Vehicles

ZAGREB, 21 Jan 2022 - The Split-Dalmatia County emergency medical service on Friday received ten new emergency medical vehicles and ambulances valued at almost HRK 4 million.

During the handover ceremony, County Prefect Blaženko Boban said that the one emergency medical vehicle and nine ambulances were fully financed by the county administration.

Three ambulances will remain in Split while the others will go to Vrgorac, Imotski, Omiš, Makarska Sink, and Kaštel Stari. 

The head of the county emergency medical service, Leo Luetić, said that ambulances are a key working resource and the service conducted about 60,000 runs a year and traveled more than 4 million kilometers.

The ambulances that are going to remain in Split will be used to transport patients to Zagreb, Varaždin, Krapina, and Vela Luka, while the emergency medical vehicle will transport patients to tertiary health institutions, primarily the KBC Hospital in Zagreb, he said.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.


Friday, 21 January 2022

HD Tobacco Processing Company Begins Negotiations on New Production Season

ZAGREB, 21 Jan 2022 - The Croatian tobacco processing company Hrvatski Duhani (HD), a member of the British American Tobacco Group, has begun negotiations on the new production season, the company said on Friday.

The new season is the continuation of the successful purchase of tobacco in 2021 when a total of HRK 81.6 million was paid out to tobacco producers, which is as much as HRK 6 million more than in 2020, HD said.

This is the largest volume and value of production in the last four harvests despite major challenges last year when inclement weather, including draught, hail, and frost, affected the quality and yield of tobacco. Given that HD had ensured the most favorable insurance terms, producers were paid more than HRK 16 million, the company said.

The company said that last year it had invested over HRK 18 million in machine harvesting and that about 50 percent of tobacco had been harvested mechanically. New technology helped reduce costs and increase yields while at the same time helping producers to overcome the problem of labor shortage.

HD said its goal was to continue to increase the quality and yield of tobacco and the profitability of producers in 2022.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

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