National Children Hospital Delayed Once Again?

By 7 April 2019

We will not wait for European funds. The new National Children's Hospital will be built with funds from the state budget “because sick children cannot wait.” This was said last year by Minister of Health Milan Kujundžić, announcing that the construction works in the Blato district in Zagreb will start this year, reports Večernji List on April 7, 2019.

However, it is clear that there will be no construction works this year and that the sick children will indeed have to wait, probably for at least a decade. That can be seen in the documents which will be signed by the state and the city authorities on April 15. The documents define the co-operation in the development of the future children's hospital. The first stage includes preparation of all necessary documentation in order for the construction to begin at all.

The paperwork will cost 42.3 million kuna, of which the City of Zagreb is responsible for covering 26 million and the Ministry of Health 16.3 million kuna. They will actually spend considerably less, since 85 per cent of the cost, or a total of 40 million kuna, has been granted by the European Union funds, so the city will allocate for the preparatory works only four million and the Ministry 2.4 million kuna. The deadline for all the documents to be ready is 57 months starting from last March.

In other words, the deadline is December 2022, while the money for the hospital construction itself would be withdrawn from European funds "in the next programming period," which will last from 2021 to 2027.

One of the documents expected is a study which will show whether the new hospital should be located in an entirely new building, or whether the never-finished University Hospital located at the site could be used for this purpose. Through the decades, 157 million euro has been invested in the complex of the university hospital which was never completed. In the 1980s, all citizens of Zagreb paid 1.5 per cent of their personal income for the university hospital. By 1992, about 50 per cent of the building was completed, and then everything stopped. The current owner of the site is the City of Zagreb.

The construction of the children’s hospital would cost around 130 million euro.

There are funding problems with another major city project, the new Sljeme cableway which is currently being constructed. The city will reportedly transfer the project to the ZET public transport company, and it that way “find” the funds missing for its completion. The project is supposed to be completed by the City Day next year, but the budget includes just 80 million kuna for the cableway, which covers just one-fifth of its total cost. The plan is to secure additional funds with a loan which should be taken out by ZET.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Mateja Šobak).

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