Zagreb Authorities Call on Wealthy Debtors to Pay Their Utility Debts

By 3 February 2019

ZAGREB, February 3, 2019 - Executives of the Zagreb Holding multi-utility conglomerate on Saturday called on defaulters, who are perceived in the public as well-off citizens, to pay utility charges in arrears following media reports that apart from poor residents, also some business people and other higher-class residents were covered by the city's measure to write off their debts.

After the law on debt discharge for natural persons came into force on July 21 last year, the City of Zagreb decided to discharge its citizens with blocked bank accounts from a debt of up to 10,000 kuna (1,350 euro) for utilities, regardless of their actual financial status.

In the late 2018, this information caused a public uproar when media broke the news that defaulters for whom such debts have been written off include football coach Zoran Mamić, former footballers Zvonimir Boban and Dino Drpić, entrepreneur Zoran Burić, who is the husband of Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić, former general Vladimir Zagorac, arms dealer Zvonko Zubak and Europatrade owner Marijan Šarić.

Some of them have in the meantime paid off their debts.

However, media outlets have recently again highlighted this issue, which was why Mirka Jozić, the head of the city department for economic matters held a news conference on Saturday at which she called on those remaining controversial defaulters to cover their debts.

She underscores that as a result of the measure, the City of Zagreb has written off the aggregate debt in the amount of 13.6 million kuna for more than 3,000 debtors.

Jozić insists that good effects of the law could not be overshadowed by the fact that a dozen of millionaires have mistakenly ended up on this list of residents eligible for debt write-off.

Also, Zagreb Holding believes that some of those wealthy debtors are not aware of their utility charges in arrears, as they live abroad.

As soon as in late October the scandal broke about the husband of Foreign and European Affairs Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić, being among debtors, the minister said that her husband had settled his debt to the City of Zagreb.

"I don't know about the City of Zagreb's decision or how my husband's name ended up on that list, because I have no knowledge of his business activity. My husband today checked the reasons of the debt incurred by his former business office and has settled the debt in full," the minister said through her spokesman then.

Also, Mayor Milan Bandić reassured the public then that he would put his veto on a possibility for wealthy defaulters to have their utility charges in arrears written-off.

More Zagreb news can be found in the special Zagreb section.