Zagreb Mayor: No Appointments Based on Political Criteria

By 12 October 2021

ZAGREB, 12 Oct (Hina) - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević of the We Can! party said on Tuesday that cooperation with former members of the management board of the city's Zagreb Holding multi-utility conglomerate was bad and that appointments in city-owned institutions were not based on political criteria.

"It was not communication that was bad, but cooperation. The new members of the Zagreb Holding Management Board were appointed in a public procedure. We did not know them from before. When we realised that things were not functioning, that the old members of the Board were not involving them in decision-making, we simply could not tolerate the situation any longer," Tomašević told a news conference.

He added that the city wanted a strong Supervisory Board for Zagreb Holding as well as strong supervision in all city-owned companies, and that as the Assembly, they wanted to be informed of all key decisions.

"We do not interfere in personnel issues," he said.

Recalling that during the term of former mayor Milan Bandić there was a decision under which the mayor's consent was required for every new hiring in Zagreb Holding, Tomašević said that one of the first moves of the new city administration was to annul that decision.

Asked about claims by former Zagreb Holding Management Board chair Nikola Vuković and former Board member Ante Samodol that meetings were attended also by Dario Juričan and (We Can! MP) Sandra Benčić, Tomašević said that that question should be put to them.

"As far as I understand, they went to the meeting in question at the request of former Management Board Chairman Vuković. You should ask them why they are going public with all these things now. The meeting in question happened after our decision as the Zagreb Holding Assembly to relieve the two Management Board members (Vuković and  Samodol) of duties," Tomašević said.

Asked if bank accounts for Zagreb Holding had been opened and if meetings had been held without the knowledge of the two former Management Board members, Tomašević said that he did not know how the Holding's Supervisory Board could open an account for Holding without the Management Board.

"There were no appointments whatsoever based on political criteria. We have removed the mayor's consent for any appointments, from the lowest to the highest position. It is fairly clear from the episode with the Srebrnjak Children's Hospital how we 'appoint personnel in line with political criteria'. When have we told anyone to appoint a specific person, threatening with dismissal?" Tomašević said in reference to Darko Richter, who was recently selected by the Governing Council of the Srebrnjak Children's Hospital as the new director, but backed out of the selection and appointment procedure after his selection was met with heated reactions in public due to his views, including his claim that artificial insemination is a "form of rape in a test-tube."

On debt enforcement

Speaking of debt enforcement procedures that were, according to media reports, being launched against Zagreb Holding, Tomašević said that the new city administration had inherited a very difficult situation regarding the company's liquidity and a debt of some five billion kuna.

There is still no official information on debt enforcement, he said, noting that the financial situation is under control but that it is not good.

"Zagreb Holding's debt is huge and liquidity is not good, not just of Zagreb Holding but of the City of Zagreb as well. A large part of Holding's revenue does not come from consumers of municipal services but directly from the City of Zagreb. Still, the situation is not alarming, financial liabilities are being met regularly and communication with all suppliers is regular," the mayor said.