Saturday, 18 March 2023

Zagreb Police Learning English for Smooth Communication with Tourists

March 18, 2023 - On Friday, the Zagreb police, in cooperation with the city's tourist board, presented an English language manual, as part of a project aimed at improving foreign languages and knowledge of the city of police officers who encounter tourists in their work.

As 24Sata writes, the project aims to improve foreign language competency related to police work, but also to the city of Zagreb and its historical, cultural sights, gastronomic offer, traffic and general information, so that the police officers can communicate with foreign tourists and help them feel good in Croatia's capital.

The project has been carried out continuously since 2018 as a form of partnership between the Police Administration and the Tourist Board of the City of Zagreb, with previous successful partnerships for the "Advent" and "Safe Tourist Destination" projects, in which Croatian police officers conducted joint police patrols with foreign colleagues.

The final product of the project is a manual that was presented on Friday, called "Excuse me, officer, how do I get to St. Mark's square?", signed by Dora Fila Petković and Patrick Burton.

"This project is a true model of successful and fruitful cooperation for the benefit of the citizens and visitors of Zagreb, but at the same time an example of good practice and partnership between the police and the tourism sector for other cities that can apply this proven model in their area as well", said the State Secretary at the Ministry of the Interior affairs, Irena Petrijevčanin.

The State Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports Josip Pavić, congratulating all participants and attendees of the course, emphasized that it is a commendable project that will increase the sense of security for tourists in Croatia and provide added value to tourism in the country.

"We see on the ground that the relationship, communication and coordination with tourists by the officers of the Zagreb Police Department is at an enviable level and we hope that this project will be recognized by other counties as well2, said the director of the Tourist Board of the City of Zagreb, Martina Bienenfeld.

Cooperation between the Zagreb police and the tourist board will continue in the coming period with the implementation of new courses in English, with a German course and the creation of a manual for that language following.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated News section.

Saturday, 18 March 2023

Zagreb Protest for Croatian Doctors - What You Need to Know

March 18, 2023 - Today's Zagreb protest has been organized by the Croatian Medical Chamber, the Croatian Medical Union, the Croatian Association of Hospital Doctors, the Coordination of Croatian Family Medicine and the Initiative of Young Doctors after a survey showed the great dissatisfaction of doctors in public health, and their readiness to go on strike.

As 24Sata writes, Croatian doctors are dissatisfied because the Ministry of Health has not met their demands and is not solving the accumulated problems in the system.

Zagreb protest should be kicking off at Dr. Franjo Tuđman Square at 10:45 a.m. with a march along Ilica to Ban Jelačić Square, then St. Mark's Square. The planned arrival at St. Mark's Square is at 11:30 a.m., where the main part of the protest will begin at 12:05 p.m.

The organizers announced the largest protest of medical staff so far, expecting a large turnout from all parts of the country.

"The protest is not directed against anyone, it is a protest for better conditions for doctors, for a better health system and ultimately for patients. We invite the officials of the political parties not to come to Mark's Square tomorrow so that the protest is not politicized", said the president of the Croatian Medical Chamber Krešimir Luetić.

The protesters are asking the Prime Minister and the Government to urgently equalize the coefficients of the complexity of the jobs of specialists with narrow specialists, doctors in primary health care with hospital doctors, as well as to increase the coefficients for specialists by at least 10 percent.

They are also asking for the adoption of a law on the labor-legal status of doctors by the end of the spring session of the Parliament, harmonization of the work of doctors at all levels of health care with time-staff norms, and the abolition of "employee" contracts for doctor specializations.

They state that every third young doctor leaves the country, more than 50 municipalities have no primary care doctors, and the health system currently lacks 2,000 doctors and 4,000 nurses. Every third doctor in the system is over 50 years old, and patients have to wait up to 600 days for individual examinations.

Dissatisfied doctors emphasize overload and poor working conditions, inefficient management in the system, devastation of primary health care, non-existent health care reform and continuous ignoring of their requests.

They believe that their requests have exceeded the level of the relevant ministry, so they will send them directly to Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and the Government. The protest is taking place only a day after the key health laws were passed in the Parliament, which, according to the announcements of Minister Vili Beroš, will initiate a structural reform of the system.

In recent days, Beroš has repeated several times that the protest is legitimate, but it is not the way to solve the problem.

He said that doctors are protesting for their material rights even though, in the opinion of many citizens, they "live very well", that their incomes have increased by 43 percent since 2016, and more than 2,000 doctors have a higher salary than the prime minister.

He added that he does not deny that there are problems in the system, but, he says, they should be discussed.

"Good will is needed for an agreement, not a conversation with hidden intents, it is necessary to offer sustainable solutions", he said, warning of a sincere lack of desire and will to resolve things through negotiations and discussion.

Beroš was previously supported by the Croatian Medical Association, the Croatian Association of Family Physicians and the Association of Healthcare Employers (UPUZ). The director of UPUZ, Dražen Jurković, called the protest a "putschist method", and specifically questioned the appropriateness of the participation of certain associations that have public powers, alluding to the Medical Chamber.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated News section.

Saturday, 18 March 2023

Croatia Inflation Rate for February Still in Double Digits

March 18, 2023 - Inflation in the Eurozone weakened slightly in February, the European Statistical Office confirmed on Friday, and price increases saw a slight slowdown in the European Union as well. The Croatia inflation rate for February, though, still placed the country among the Eurozone countries with a double-digit rate.

As Index writes, Eurostat confirmed the estimate of 8.5 percent growth in consumer prices in the eurozone in February, expressed by the harmonized index of consumer prices (HICP). In January, they increased by 8.6 percent.

Rising food and energy prices have been the main drivers of price growth

At the monthly level, consumer prices increased by 0.8 percent compared to January, when there was a decrease of 0.2 percent, Eurostat confirmed.

The main driver of price growth was the increase in food and energy prices. At the EU level, the harmonized index of consumer prices showed their growth in February of 9.9 percent compared to the same month last year, after a 10 percent increase in January.

On a monthly basis, prices rose by 0.8 percent in February, after a 0.2 percent increase in the first month of this year.

Croatia in the group of Eurozone countries with a double-digit inflation rate in February

Among EU countries that are not members of the eurozone, prices in Hungary increased by far the most on an annual basis, by 25.8 percent compared to last year's February. In Poland, the largest economy in that group, the prices increased by 17.2 percent according to preliminary data.

Among the eurozone members, the highest inflation rates were recorded by the Baltic countries, so in Latvia it was 20.1 percent, and in Estonia and Lithuania 17.8 and 17.2 percent, respectively.

Croatia is also in the group of eurozone countries with a double-digit inflation rate in February, at 11.7 percent, as indicated by the harmonized consumer price index.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated News section.

Saturday, 18 March 2023

Vjekoslav Majetic of DOK-ING Named EY Entrepreneur of the Year in Croatia

March 18, 2023 - An evening of huge positivity at Lauba in Zagreb on Thursday, as Vjekoslav Majetic, CEO of DOK-ING, wins the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Croatia. 

About 5 years ago, soon after we moved to Varazdin, I got a phone call from Nenad Bakic, the serial entrepreneur who at the time was trying to resurrect the fortunes of the Varteks clothing company in the city. We met for a coffee, and after paying some very generous compliments about TCN, he asked how he could help with advice to grow my business. It was a very stimulating chat, and I appreciated all he suggested. He is a much smarter man than me. 

"And I want to show you a snapshot of Croatia that you have not seen, and one you will like and that will inspire you," he concluded. "I will arrange for you to come to the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award in Lauba in Zagreb. "There you will see the future of Croatia, a room full of positivity, of entrepreneurs working for a better Croatia."

And so it was that I entered a room filled with 300 of the most successful people in Croatia, coming together for a gala dinner to celebrate the best of their own. That year, some chap called Mate Rimac won the award for Entrepreneur of the Year. The year after, Infobip. And soon after they became the first two Croatian unicorns. 


EY kindly invited me again this year for an outstanding event, as well as two other foreign entrepreneurs (both way more successful than me) - Polish EU funds specialist Natalia Zielinska from Ogulin, and some Dutch wannabe tomato grower from Split, Jan de Jong. 

As he does on occasions like these, young Rimac came over to greet in his words 'my favourite fat Brit' before telling me that not only has he ordered our book, Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners but that he sleeps next to it but has not had time to read it. Which prompted Ms. Zielenska to come up with the above quip, which tickled Mate enough to share it. 

But the night belonged to Vjekoslac Matejic, the pioneering CEO of DOK-ING. Rather than reinvent the wheel, here are more details in the press release below. Many thanks to Bero Horvat and all the EY team for such as exceptional event once again. Hope for Hrvatska 2.0. Below, the moment Vjekoslav Matejic was pronounced the winner. 

Zagreb, March 17th, 2023. – Innovator, founder and owner of the DOK-ING company, Vjekoslav Majetić, won the prestigious EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2022 award last night in Zagreb.

EY Entrepreneur of the Year celebrates unstoppable and daring visionaries whose success inspires others, creates new jobs, drives progress and redefines the way we live and work. DOK-ING, headed by the owner Majetić, has been saving human lives in dangerous environments around the world for more than 31 years with its innovations and new technologies. The company is present in 40 countries around the world and is a pioneer in the production of robotic and autonomous systems and equipment for special purposes. Vjekoslav Majetić, with a strong vision and indescribable will, designed and innovated the world’s most famous demining machine, which today dominates with 80% of the global market share.

Vjekoslav Majetić, innovator, owner and founder of the DOK-ING company, when receiving the prestigious awards said:

“It’s hard to get to the top, and believe me, it’s even harder to stay. I thank everyone who understands that we are part of the world scene, and that we are not just part of Croatia. Thank you to those who share with us the opinion that we must live in a more beautiful, safer and better world.”


In the company production hall, the so-called labyrinth of innovations and ideas, which is located in Zagreb’s Žitnjak, has produced numerous remotely controlled machines, some of which are electric, and behind which is a team of top engineers. In more than 30 years of business, the company has been recognized for changing the industrial landscape with an innovative approach and has won more than a hundred international awards in the fields of business, innovation and technology. The company’s agility has also been proven in numerous collaborations with business partners whose needs and wishes the company has responded to with tailor-made products. In the last few years, DOK-ING has launched an internal technological start-up that is working on the development of a new waste disposal facility in a very environmentally friendly way. At the same time, it is also economically profitable, considering the products it generates, which can be further used.

You can visit the DOK-ING website here.


You can subscribe to the Paul Bradbury Croatia Expert YouTube channel here.

What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

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Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.


Friday, 17 March 2023

Annual Medvednica Clean-up Campaign to Take Place this Saturday

March 17, 2023 - Are you looking for ideas on how to spend your early spring weekend in Zagreb? Shopping malls and restaurants might seem like a waste of time for the lovely, sunny days ahead. Ideally, you would spend some time in nature, physically active and enjoying the fresh air. What better way to do that than some hiking, and what better location than Zagreb's own Medvednica? And with the clean-up campaign that is going to take place there, volunteers and associations are making sure that it's nicer, healthier, and more enjoyable for us all.

As 24Sata writes, the spring clean-up campaign on Medvednica will take place on Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm in several locations, and a large number of hikers and associations will participate, it was announced on Thursday at the Medvednica Nature Park Public Institution.

The campaign will take place in four locations - Talani, Vila Rebar, Zelena magistrala (Ramp for Sopot Waterfall, Ponikve), and Sveti Matej in the Park area in Krapina-Zagorje County.

"By removing and disposing of waste, we will contribute to raising awareness and a positive attitude towards our Park, as we have been doing continuously for many years. Together, we can contribute to a more beautiful and cleaner environment, to the preservation of biodiversity, and to greater satisfaction of all visitors to Medvednica", said the director of the institution, Marina Popijač.

This week, in cooperation with Croatian Forests (Hrvatske šume), several locations were cleaned to prepare them for more efficient waste removal, including Vejalnica, the area near Pustakova street, Gornje Vrapče, the entrance to the trail to Ferendol and Mali potok.

The Medvednica cleaning campaign takes place every spring in partnership with Croatian Forests, the Croatian Forest Society, the City of Zagreb, the company Čistoća, and the Municipality of Gornja Stubica.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated News section.

Friday, 17 March 2023

Wine Enthusiast Rates Croatian Wine as World Top with 99/100 Points

March 17, 2023 - Last year, one of the most influential wine magazines in the USA, Wine Enthusiast, rated the Croatian wine Ernest Tolj Dingač of the Saints Hills winery with a high 97 points, but this year's 99 out of 100 points put it at the very top of the world, joining the elite club.

As Punkufer writes, this recognition for this Croatian wine is all the greater because it is a local variety, Plavac Mali, which is increasingly recognized and appreciated globally. Small yields, great steepness, triple insolation (from the sun, sea, and stone), pure manual processing, and, along with limestone and red earth, an abundance of quartz are just some of the specifics of the unique terroir to which this wine owes its qualities. Special efforts are invested in the production as well. After the manual selection of the grapes, fermentation in barrique is followed by two years in oak barrels so that the tannins would further round out and soften. Then comes aging in special dark glass bottles decorated with the winery's motifs.

Ernest Tolj Dingač 2019 is a limited series of humanitarian wines, and the Saints Hills winery donates all the money from the sales to children in need. It was founded in 2006, and the vineyards in Dalmatia and Istria are named after the children of the owners Ivana and Ernest Tolj.

Adding to them the prefix of saints, the vineyard of St. Lucia in the Dingač region, the vineyard of St. Ante in western Istria, and St. Roko in Komarna are actual proof that this family shapes the gifts of the land in the best possible way - providing true wine lovers with unique tastes.

"Our hearts are full that every year, through our Saints Hills for Kids foundation, we can help those who need help the most. With great enthusiasm, we pick every grape of Plavac Mali to become humanitarian wine ET Dingač. A limited series of only a few hundred bottles are available to wine lovers every year with the same noble mission: to make the world a better place," said Ivana and Ernest Tolj, owners of the Saints Hills winery, and add:

"Just as we try to be an example to our children and help them on their life paths, we want to do the same for those children who do not have adequate care, protection, and love. That is why every drop of Ernest Tolj Dingač is woven with the greatest emotion every human needs - from the youngest to the oldest."

On the Saints Hills winery website, 99 of the total 800 bottles of Ernest Tolj Dingač 2019 are available for sale, and delivery is expected in June. All proceeds from this top Croatian wine are intended for the most vulnerable groups through the Saints Hills for Kids Foundation, just as in previous years.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated News section.

Friday, 17 March 2023

Privileged Entry to US for Croatians with Global Entry Requirements Met

March 17, 2023 - This partnership allows low-risk Croatian nationals with prior approval to apply for membership in the Global Entry program and thus become trusted travelers to ensure faster entry into the US.

As 24Sata writes, Croatia has successfully completed all the necessary prerequisites to become a full partner in the Global Entry program, thus joining the growing list of 14 other partner countries in the Global Entry program, which includes the Republic of Argentina, the Republic of Colombia, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Republic of India, the United Mexico States, the Netherlands, the Republic of Panama, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of Singapore, the Swiss Confederation, Taiwan, the Federal Republic of Brazil, the Kingdom of Bahrain and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Ministry of the Interior announced.

The full partnership of the Republic of Croatia in the Global Entry program followed shortly after the fulfillment of all political and security requirements for joining the American visa exemption program, of which the Republic of Croatia became a member in October 2021 after several years of joint preparations.

This partnership allows low-risk Croatian nationals with prior approval to apply for membership in the Global Entry program and thus become trusted travelers for faster entry into the United States for tourism or business purposes. Thus, citizens of the Republic of Croatia can start submitting requests to join the Global Entry program from March 16, 2023.

This announcement is another proof of the continued commitment of the Republic of Croatia and the United States of America to the further development of already excellent relations between the two countries by providing benefits to their citizens in a way that facilitates travel and trade while simultaneously strengthening the security of both countries, according to the Croatian Ministry of Interior.

The Global Entry program is one of the four branches of the Trusted Traveler program, which allows low-risk, pre-approved travelers to be screened more quickly when arriving at airports in the United States. Users enter the United States through automated kiosks located at numerous airports within the United States and at screening locations around the world.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated News section.

Friday, 17 March 2023

A Week in Croatian Politics - Drink Driving, Austrian Brothels and Reforms

March the 17th, 2023 - This week in Croatian politics, we've had an HDZ politician accused of drink driving, causing an accident, defrauding an insurance company and also seeing three police officers arrested alongside himself. On top of that, we've had more talk about healthcare reforms, resignations, and freedom for the Murter mayor who spent municipal funds in an Austrian brothel. It's been a busy week.


Goran Jandrokovic says the ''institutions are doing their job'' after an HDZ prefect was accused of driving under the influence, causing an accident, faking the circumstances of said accident and then defrauding the involved insurance company for over 13,000 euros

Another day, another very uncomfortable scandal to deal with for HDZ. On the basis of the criminal complaint filed by PNUSKOK, USKOK has issued a decision on conducting an investigation against six Croatian citizens (born in 1970, 1976, 1985, 1968, 1989, and 1970 respectively) due to well-founded suspicion of criminal offenses of influence peddling, the abuse of positions of authority and assisting in the abuse of positions of authority.

The police, as well as USKOK, published a statement about HDZ's Vukovar-Srijem County Prefect Damir Dekanic.

''In addition to faking the circumstances of a traffic accident in which he was involved in order to avoid attracting any negative publicity, he also caused damage to an insurance company and obtained an improper financial benefit for himself,'' they wrote, adding that he was over the limit (under the influence of alcohol) and that he was driving 87.9 km/h when the traffic accident occurred.

"The criminal investigation established the suspicion that the 53-year-old county prefect in question was driving the county's official car under the influence of alcohol (1.44g/kg) at an illegal and unadjusted speed of 87.9 km/h in the area of Zupanja and Cerna, shortly after midnight on April the 17th, 2022. As a result of the above, he lost control of the steering wheel in Cerna and the vehicle went off the road and hit the front end of a car which had county registration plates owned by a 47-year-old woman, parked in front of a house, and then into the fence of the said house," the police wrote.

The belief is that, in order to avoid misdemeanor liability and thus the negative publicity that this event would have for him as a county prefect, Dekanic asked the owner of the damaged vehicle not to call the police and that she'd be compensated for the damage caused. Dekanic also allegedly called his cousin to arrange with him to lie to the police. Then three police officers were also arrested related to the accident.

The accident took place near Cerna last year and the saga goes on, and there's little point in rehashing the entire thing in this article, but the story has ruffled feathers within HDZ and within Croatian politics in general, with Milanovic and Plenkovic of course butting heads over it. Parliament Speaker Goran Jandrokovic has also thrown in some of the most famous last words in Croatian politics - that the ''institutions are doing their job''.

This line has been made the brunt of many a joke, because it appears to be code for ''nothing will ever be done about it, but please stop asking about it''.  Jandrokovic's recent comments on the arrest of Vukovar-Srijem prefect Damir Dekanic were that he ''couldn't say anything new about it'' and that ''the institutions are doing their job,'' adding that ''the investigation will show what exactly happened. The barty bodies will make the decisions. We'll see what happens next.'' Rather vague, one might say.

"It's important that the state bodies can work freely without any pressure and they'll come to adecision in accordance with the law, and if there's been a violation of the law, he will be sanctioned," he added, reported N1. He says that he himself did not ask the prefect about the traffic accident in question. "I didn't ask him about it, but I heard from other officials that he said he wasn't driving."

Marin Miletic steps down as the vice president of Most/Bridge

Croatian Parliamentarian Marin Miletic has stepped down as the vice president of Most, claiming that he is resigning irrevocably from the position. He stated that he decided on this move as a sign of "personal responsibility for the complete failure in the elections for local committees in Rijeka". Here's his statement translated in its entirety:

Dear all, I entered politics with a clean face and with a sense of great responsibility towards my voters. My Istrian and Rijeka people, the inhabitants of Kvarner, elected me to the Croatian Parliament to fight for the freedom of every single person and for the dignity of every human being. I've done this since the first day of my representation and will continue to do so until my last day. My fellow citizens of Rijeka also trusted me in the local elections by almost 12%, and Most had more than 10% of the support of the people of Rijeka. In the city council, we've been working with both dedication and strength.

Because I personally believe in political responsibility, in the importance of taking personal responsibility - I'm hereby informing the public and my fellow citizens of Rijeka that I am resigning irrevocably from the position of vice president of Most due to a complete failure in the elections for the local committees in Rijeka. I'll continue to humbly work in the Croatian Parliament, in Kvarner, in my beautiful Rijeka and wherever the party wants me tobe, to build a more beautiful and just Croatia. However, I can't demand high standards of morality from other people if I don't behave like that myself. That ' why I'm irrevocably resigning from the position of vice president of Most.

Keep me in your prayers," Miletic posted on Facebook.

Murter Mayor Tonci Turcinov is enjoying freedom once again after having spent municipality cash in an Austrian brothel

Yes, you did read that correctly. Whoever said Croatian politics was boring?

Murter's mayor Tonci Turcinov was released from custody this past week and photographed in Murter, standing in front of the municipality building. Several days ago, his lawyer Fran Olujic confirmed for Index that he was then due for release, after spending almost a month in pre-trial detention due to possible influence on witnesses.

Turcinov was released from custody one day before the deadline because the investigating judge had already questioned all twenty witnesses. Pixsell photographers snapped Turcinov while he was throwing some rubbish away and was standing in front of the Murter-Kornati municipality building. The proceedings against Turcinov continue and he will await his final verdict in freedom.

After receiving an initial police report, USKOK launched an investigation and requested detention for Turcinov, who was arrested for alleged illegalities with which he damaged the Municipality of Murter-Kornati for at least 60,000 euros. The prosecutor's office previously reported that it suspected that Turcinov had used municipal money for private purposes from the beginning of 2018 all the way until the middle of 2022, that is, to pay for travel expenses and other services and expenses in Croatia and abroad. In April 2019, Turcinov paid with said municipality money in a brothel in Austria. He even allegedly shamelessly used the official card of the Municipality of Murter, Telegram revealed. He spent 1,560 budgeted euros in the Austrian La Cocotte club.

He claimed that he used the card in the club by mistake because it was similar to his private card and that he then personally covered the cost of the municipal delegation's accommodation in the Schlosswirt Ebenthal hotel in Klagenfurt in order to indemnify the municipality. The hotel disputed the authenticity of the invoice to Telegram, so the portal announced that Turcinov had falsified an invoice for the expenses at the hotel in order to cover up the expenses of the Austrian brothel.

After the affair broke out in the media, he announced that he was resigning from his position of councilor in the county assembly, but also that, with the support of his associates and fellow residents, he would continue working on the projects he had started in the Municipality of Murter-Kornati. In other words, he remained the boss despite the lurid accusations against him.

Finance Minister Marko Primorac says Croatia doesn't need to worry about its banking system

Minister of Finance Marko Primorac recently spoke about the new package of government measures and other topics as a guest on HRT's Dnevnik. Following the deeply concerning cases of Credit Suisse and the collapse of the American bank Silicon Valley, he said that we here in Croatia need not worry about the situation with the banking system.

"We've been continuously pointing out that the measures that end up being adopted must be targeted, short-term, aimed at those who need help the most, and this is how we've structured all of our packages of measures so far. The total amount of this package of measures, which is comprehensive and targeted at people who need help the most, as well as at business owners, stands at one billion and 700 million euros. In addition to ensuring the continuity of our energy supply and acceptable energy prices, it will also ensure a more peaceful life for our business owners and for people in general,'' Primorac assured.

''Income support, first of all for groups that need this help, pensioners, people who only receive the minimum guaranteed help, child benefit, long-term unemployment, vulnerable groups who need help... rest assured that we'll provide it,'' he pointed out.

"HEP has borne a significant burden of this crisis. Of course, we're going to do everything, not only to keep HEP on its feet, but also to ensure the continuity of the healthy and stable operations of HEP. This isn't in dispute, the funds are being provided for this in the budget but the mechanism by which we will do this it depends on several factors that we are now discussing,'' he said, adding that he is also discussing this with the EC.

''We will not allow HEP's operations to be jeopardised in any way, and its projects such as GoGreen or solar power plants will have the total support of the government,'' he emphasised.

He said that the condition of the state treasury is standard. "Revenues are of course growing, financial appetites - expenditures, state costs are growing, aid packages are also costing. The state's finances are stable. We've been monitoring the developments within the tax system and designing the tax policy, and we will continue to do so. Our tax system is consumption-oriented, which is why it's dominantly related to the collection of value-added tax revenue," he said.

"Income tax is first and foremost the income of local units. I'd like the questions to be directed towards them a little bit more. Opposition MPs should talk to their mayors, if they're ready to bear that burden, let them, for example, reduce the surtax to the minimum level. If they're able to do that, then we'll consider some further measures in the context of income tax relief," he said.

Minister Primorac also commented on whether we here in Croatia should be worried about the situation with banks - referring to the cases of Credit Suisse and the collapse of the American bank Silicon Valley from California.

"What happened in America was due to highly specific circumstances. The Croatian banking system is adequately capitalised - compliant with Basel standards, for example, this wasn't the case in America. In the context of the discussions we held at the Council of EkoFin and the Eurogroup, of course it was an issue that worried us. According to the reports of the European Central Bank and all relevant stakeholders, we can all remain calm for now," he concluded.

Health Minister Vili Beros claims that 2400 Croatian doctors take home a higher monthly wage than Plenkovic

As they should.

Health Minister Vili Beros was a recent guest of Croatian Radio's Interview of the Week. It was during that appearance that he pointed out that the goal of this government is to reform the healthcare system. He then explained the steps of the reforms that are currently being planned. He announced the presentation of new preventive health examinations for next Friday, after the first amended laws are submitted to the parliamentary procedure.

He said that he isn't at all interested in his level of popularity as a minister and that he's only interested in his efficiency and what he does for the betterment of the healthcare system. "I'm interested in my efficiency and functionality in relation to the healthcare system, primarily in regard to patients, and then for all other parts of the healthcare system," said the minister.

A lot of remarks are coming in about the inefficiency and problems within the healthcare system, which the minister himself says. He recalled that on the first day after he was appointed minister, he was a guest on the Croatian Radio programme and spoke about the healthcare system, which is flawed.

"However, the coronavirus pandemic came and we lost a year and a half defending ourselves against the coronavirus. During that period, and even after that, we also found strength, opportunities, and the will to establish a certain reform. The reform that is being planned, which is founded and which has its own content and meaning, is precisely there to eliminate all these allegations. There are also a number of complaints about it, but I can say that we've also received praise for the functioning of the healthcare system," he added.

When asked whether he would continue his mandate, Minister Vili Beros replied that it was a difficult question to answer, but that he would do his best to implement the elements of the reform.

"I'll do my best to implement these elements in the context of our reform that we set as a task. I will tell you this - strengthening public health is our priority," said Beros. The minister added that the next Friday will be the presentation of new preventive health examinations, and he also referred to health literacy.

"We're talking about the development of health literacy, we already have some concrete results, an agreement with the Ministry of Education on that path. We need to develop health literacy from a young age," said Beros, adding that national preventive examinations for the early detection of numerous tumors are all that we really do in the context of prevention.

Considering that this is a pre-election year, Beros was asked whether or not it was a bit late for any reforms, to which the minister replied that such thoughts are calculative.

"I don't have the time or ability, nor am I the kind of person to calculate. I really want to establish those changes in the healthcare system that will be positive for everyone, especially for patients. My personal mission is to bring the patient back into focus," he explained, adding that government determination on this issue is strong.

"Things can always be better, let's not forget that I'm a doctor myself, and of course I understand their fight for higher salaries. But you have to look at the broader context, we're in the post-pandemic era. Since 2016, their incomes have grown by 43 percent. I will clearly answer their requests and listen to all of their objections," he said, adding that he suspects that there are other motives in the whole story.

"I wouldn't go to a protest, that's not the way to solve this problem... In the end, there are over 2,400 doctors in Croatia who have a higher salary than the prime minister. And I won't even tell you how many of them earn more than me, which doesn't even matter. I'm only saying it in the context of talking about the material rights of doctors," he said.


For more on Croatian politics, make sure to keep up with our dedicated section. Our Week in Croatian Politics articles are published every Friday.

Thursday, 16 March 2023

Big Brother? Sibenik to Get 230 Surveillance Cameras in 74 Locations

March the 16th, 2023 - The powers that be in Sibenik have been busy mounting 4K high resolution cameras that are also efficient at night, and creating an infrastructure for a city-wide, state of the art surveillance system. This is the first such project of this magnitude in all of Croatia, as every intersection, every town square, every playground will be covered with cameras.

This project has been in the works for a couple of years. The City of Sibenik has taken out a big loan back in 2020 of about 3.585,000 euros. Only a portion of that money has been budgeted for these cameras, while the rest was set aside for playgrounds and a couple of other projects like funding for a new kindergarten, for the valorisation of a fort, etc.

Deputy mayor of Sibenik Mr. Danijel Mileta said in a recent interview that the cameras themselves will cost about 1.062.400 euros, two control rooms about 212.000 euros, and underground optic cables and various infrastructure about 530.000 euros, and with added VAT, we come to a grand total of about 2.225.500 euros.

Sibenik is a very safe city, but...

During this whole process, local politicians and heads of the local police would always preface their statements with "Sibenik is a very safe city'', but somehow we need 230 cameras in 74 locations paid for by the city's tax payers to make the city "even safer". It's rather unusual that in these times, when everything is financed by EU funds or one of the many ministries, that the cost of this fell directly into citizens' laps.

It's true, Sibenik like the rest of the country in that it is basically very, very safe. It's perfectly fine for women to go out alone at night, muggings don't happen, violence is rare, and when it happens it never has anything to do with foreigners, and is usually domestic violence or feuds between business partners, like the last murders that happened over two years ago.

Is Big Brother making himself comfortable here in our fair city?

Mr. Mileta emphasises that this will not be any kind of "Big Brother", and only a few police officers and city employees specifically trained and certified for this system will be allowed access. Sibenik is the first city in Croatia to get such detailed surveillance of its public areas. We're a city of about 37000 inhabitants, it has one main road running through it, and a historical centre, which will also be full of cameras. The reactions to this move by the city's politicians is polarising.

Some people are rather dumbfounded and very upset that they plan to do this. They cite privacy reasons, and why do the city and the police need such an extensive network of cameras, and are we giving them a lot of power that we'll never be able to take away or control? Could this kind of tool be useful for spying on and compromising political opposition, or something similarly nefarious? Sibenik's local administration is adamant that it will all be transparent and on the level and absolutely not abused in any way shape or form.

Others are cheering the idea on, especially for children's playgrounds that get vandalised sometimes. They see this as a solution to a lot of communal problems, claiming that the cameras will effectively solve them.

The city administration says they will crack down on illegal parking on the pavements which is a huge problem in Sibenik, it will see the throwing of trash outside of the designated areas dealt with, as well as many other things. The plan is to semi-automate it, the software will recognise an infraction on a vehicle for example, a city employee will then need to OK it on their end, the database will find the owner via the OCR'ed licence plate and then a fine will be sent to that individual.

Not all of the 230 cameras have yet been installed, and there hasn't been any visible work done over the last couple of months. One deadline for the project was already breached, and the latest estimation that Mr. Mileta provides is a launch date in a couple of months. There haven't been any official updates from the Mayor's office regarding the status of this project since this interview in October.

Should this endeavor be a success, we can expect other cities across the country to implement similar technologies. It's a general global trend to have everything under the nose of watchful cameras. Right now, shops, banks, even cafes and practically everything commercial indoors is under the ever watchful eye of a CCTV camera. There have been and of course are cameras placed in public spaces across the rest of Croatia, but we were mostly spared of an all encompassing camera platform. It seems that era is coming to an end, at least in Sibenik.

The 230 cameras are only the first stage, as they also plan to cover other parts of Sibenik-Knin County with similar cameras, and this area is huge and encompasses many villages and communities.

For more, check out our news section.

Thursday, 16 March 2023

Could an Unpopular Measure End Up Being Borovo's Best Solution?

March the 16th, 2023 - Borovo has been swimming in troubled waters for a long time now, but could an otherwise wholly unpopular measure actually end up being the best solution of all for this enfeebled company? Maybe.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, a couple of years ago, it seemed that everything regarding the survival of Borovo had finally fallen into place properly, a restructuring programme was fully drawn up, of which the consulting company KPMG was in charge. Since then, the extension of the CERP guarantees has only been approved in order to postpone the repayment of loans to the state banks for yet another year, thanks to which Borovo is still keeping afloat, and the new deadline for another such decision is coming up in just a month.

In CERP, which is the 100 percent owner of this much loved Vukovar-based footwear manufacturer, the case of its restructuring is considered one of the top priorities in 2023, after several problematic cases in the state portfolio were finally closed over the past two years. At the same time, the process within Borovo stands stagnantly right where it was two years ago - the restructuring proposal prepared by KPMG clearly didn't meet the expectations of the relevant ministries.

However, on the other hand - when it comes to Borovo, no deadline was actually set in which the case should finally be closed, either through a new model of operational and financial restructuring, an attempt at privatisation or the worst case scenario - bankruptcy.

Although bankruptcy is something to be avoided like the plague in Croatia, there are those working within the ministries of economy and finance who see this very solution as the best one. In their opinion, the projections from KPMG's proposal fail to offer what is needed, and instead only work to postpone the solution of the problem and prolong Borovo's limbo and uncertainty. This is because it starts from some basic recommendations for improving business, such as reducing overhead costs and the number of employees, changing the production profile and focusing on more profitable programmes, and finally finding a good strategic partner. According to the assessment of the relevant ministries, Borovo will continue to remain in a difficult state in which it will hardly manage to attract any serious investors seeking a safe project.

For this reason, as has since been learned, it was requested that KPMG define much more clearly what it would to to ensure and enable a long-term solution without bankruptcy threats and then to find a strategic partner, and that the programme be organised so that it can receive the approval of the European Commission (EC). That something is simply not right with the existing solution was also confirmed by the President of the Board of Borovo, Gordana Odor, who said the following:

"KPMG prepared a restructuring plan one year ago, but it hasn't yet been adopted by the relevant ministry and will have to be refined by KMPG. The main complaint of the ministry is the lack of a strategic partner that would be a guarantee for the survival of Borovo,'' said Gordana Odor, adding that when it comes to Borovo, the bigger picture must be looked at.

First, as she explained, it's actually very difficult to find a private investor who is ready to take over Borovo with all of its accompanying problematic buildings on an area spanning 13 hectares. This is full of unresolved property-legal disputes that are being conducted on the territories of both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.

According to the current restructuring plan, the state should recapitalise Borovo with 92 million kuna, which would close its existing liabilities to the banks. The share capital of Borovo is at the level of 316.7 million kuna. The assessment of the Management Board and KPMG was that this would enable better positions for the search for strategic partners and investments in the modernisation of Borovo's production, which normally also takes place on machines from 1940, and for which the company could finally rely on European Union funds. In Borovo, they're convinced that, once the company is relieved of all of its loan debts, it can meet all of its obligations and conduct its business properly.

According to the first data for 2022, revenues compared to the previous year have increased by 2% and are at the level of 10 million euros. However, business expenses grew much more. On average, total material costs increased by 23%, wage costs by 6.5%, and the largest increase of 100% refers to gas, while energy costs increased somewhat more slowly, due to government measures, by 20%.

All other input resources had growth trends of 10 to 20 percent, especially leather. An additional cost was a 12% increase in workers' wages, which is a significant increase for a labour-intensive activity, which also increased costs of about 5 million kuna. Overall, the increase in costs resulted in a loss of 9 million kuna for Borovo.

"Under these circumstances, we had to adjust our operations and we placed the emphasis on optimising procurement, production, storage and transportation costs, with the goal of maintaining existing liquidity," explained Gordana Odor. As for the number of employees, currently their number has fallen to the lowest level so far - 563.

"Borovo is aware that in times of crisis it has to make business adjustments for the conditions ahead, but we certainly need help and the involvement of the state, which we have been talking about for several years now,'' concluded Gordana Odor, noting that we're still talking about the largest employer in the entire Vukovar area which employs mostly women, and that they have spent most of their working lives working for Borovo and have no other qualifications.

The problems faced by Borovo will be on the agenda of the CERP Board of Directors as early as next month, in order to consider another extension of the guarantees for loans that the company has in the amount of 6.1 million euros each, for which the state's shares in Podravka, Koncar and HT are pledged as insurance.

However, before that, representatives of the Management Board, KPMG, CERP and the relevant ministries will need to sit down together in order to shed light on the current ambiguities surrounding the preparation of the final proposal on which the future of the company depends entirely. The reason that no expedient solution has been found for many years lies in the fact that Borovo is not only a commercial and economic issue, but is also burdened by the political context and inter-ethnic relations between Croats and Serbs, as well as conflicting relations between local and state authorities, which further complicates matters.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

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