Sunday, 14 August 2022

Maersk Launches Rijeka-Czech Republic Direct Freight Train Service

August the 14th, 2022 - Maersk has set up a Rijeka-Czech Republic service connecting this former industrial Northern Adriatic city and the town of Paskova in the Czech Republic.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the first direct freight, container and rail service from Rijeka to the Czech Republic has now been established, connecting the Port of Rijeka via the container terminal at Brajdica with the town of Paskova near Ostrava in the far east of the Czech Republic.

Emmanuel Papagiannakis, executive director of Jadranska vrata, which manages the Brajdica terminal, emphasised that the Czech market is one of the most important in all of Europe.

"Currently, we have several regular weekly block trains from Rijeka to Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Hungary, from where we're also connected to Slovakia," he said, stressing that the company appreciates Maersk's initiative to start this new Rijeka-Czech Republic service, and that direct rail connections have also been achieved as a result.

Papagiannakis pointed out that the new Rijeka-Czech Republic service confirms the increasing importance of the Adriatic Sea for the markets of Central and Southeastern Europe.

Maersk's rail service was launched back in May this year, and runs up to twice a week. The rail service is operated by CD Cargo Adria, a subsidiary of the Czech cargo operator CD Cargo, the largest provider of rail transport services in the Czech Republic and one of the main rail operators on the trans-European network corridor which includes the countries of Slovakia, Germany, Austria, Poland, and now, the Republic of Croatia.

The company Jadranska vrata (Adriatic Gate Container Terminal - AGCT) is a public-private partnership, in which International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) has a 51 percent share, and the Port of Rijeka has a 49 percent share.

In the period from 2011, when the company became part of the ICTSI corporation, which invested more than 50 million dollars in the modernisation of the terminal, to 2021, it handled two million container units (TEU) at the Brajdica container terminal, and about 70 percent of its volume now comes from outside of the borders of Croatia - from Central and Southeastern Europe.

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

Sunday, 14 August 2022

Croatian Socialist Past Responsible for Lower Wages? Analysis Says Yes

August the 14th, 2022 - Is the Croatian socialist past responsible for the big wage gap between the country and other European Union member states which were never part of Yugoslavia? One Croatian Employment Service (HZZ) analysis says an emphatic yes.

As Marija Brnic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the growth of wages over the last year has been mostly attributed to the chronic lack of workers in Croatia, but calls are regularly heard from the ranks of Croatian businessmen to the government to undertake tax reforms and finally reduce the high burdens due to which workers' wages are low compared to other countries, and their products are as such very uncompetitive.

In recent statements, they warned that 42% of an employee's gross salary goes straight to the state. However, an analysis of the Croatian Employment Service (HZZ) on the average gross wages in the manufacturing industry across EU member states shows that the level of wages and indeed large differences between EU countries is also determined by a number of other elements that determine labour productivity, and the most interesting conclusion they've drawn is that such differences are greatly influenced by the legacy of socialism.

The Croatian socialist past - Life behind the "Iron Curtain"

This fact can be seen at first glance from the very ranking of wages paid per hour of work by industrialists in certain other countries, because they are the highest among the older EU member states, while the countries behind the former "Iron Curtain", including Croatia, come second with gross salaries which are several times lower.

According to Eurostat data for 2021, the highest gross hourly wage is paid in Denmark (48.5 euros), while the lowest (5.8 euros) in Bulgaria is 8 and a half times less. Workers at processors in Belgium, Sweden and Germany had more than 40 euros in gross hourly wages, and almost 40 euros is paid out per hour in both Austria and France.

Among the former socialist countries, the highest gross wages are paid to employees in neighbouring Slovenia (20.3 euros), which is twice as much as in Croatia, where an hour of production costs an average of 10.3 euros. Industrial workers in the Baltic country of Latvia also have a very similar gross salary, and only salaries in Romania, along with Bulgaria, are lower than that.

This trend, although CES analysts refrain from drawing firm conclusions since the past two years we've all been operating under the conditions of a global coronavirus pandemic, shows that in most countries the price of labour in industry has increased, and this is most visible in hourly rates in Denmark and Sweden, while in some countries, slight reductions were also recorded.

Here in the Republic of Croatia back during the pre-pandemic year of 2019, the average gross hourly wage stood at 10.1 euros, a year later it stood at 9.9 euros, and last year it rose to 10.3 euros.

Due to the unreliability of the data from the time of the unprecedented situation involving the spread of the novel coronavirus, CES analysts based their further research on wage differences on 2019, i.e. data on what affected labour productivity, and thus wages, in the period from 1996 until that time. The data on the share of experts and the share of technicians in the total number of employees were also compared, and they also processed data on the extent of investments in machines and equipment during that longer period.

Impacts on productivity

It has been shown that Finland (23.8%) and Luxembourg (229%) have the largest share of experts in the total number of employees in the processing industry, while Sweden (24.8%) and France (24.6%) lead the way in terms of the share of technicians, Belgium leads in terms of industrialists (305,000 euros per worker) and Sweden (262,500) in terms of relative investment in machinery and equipment.

Former socialist countries are at the bottom again - Slovakia in terms of the share of experts (3.6), Romania in terms of the number of technicians (4.5), and Bulgaria in terms of investments in machinery and equipment (34,200 euros per worker). In Croatia, 7.6% of the employees in the industry are experts, 12.3% are technicians, and the average investment per worker was 60,000 euros.

CES analysts calculated that the share of specialists in the total number of employees, higher by one percentage point, increases wages by 3.7%, and the share of technicians by 2.7%. In the case of investments, the ratio of logarithmic values ​​shows that investments are higher by 10%, with an unchanged share of experts and technicians, associated with a higher salary level by 5.7%.

It is clear that part of today's wage differences very likely reflect the historical handicap of countries that were once socialist, and as such the Croatian socialist past should as such be taken into account. CES analysts pointed out that according to their calculations, the historical legacy of socialism reduces today's wages in the industry sector by a not at all insignificant 21% in total.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics and business sections.

Saturday, 13 August 2022

Croatia Logs 1,215 New COVID-19 Cases, 12 Related Deaths

ZAGREB, 13 August, 2022 - Croatia has registered 1,215 new COVID cases and 12 related deaths in the past 24 hours, the national COVID response team reported on Saturday.

The number of active cases in the country currently stands at 7,747, of whom 607 are hospitalised and 26 of them are on ventilators, while 5,398 people are self-isolating.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 1,200,113 COVID cases have been recorded in Croatia, and 16,484 patients have died as a consequence.

To date, 68.84% of adults have been vaccinated.

Saturday, 13 August 2022

Medical Chamber Urges Public Not to Accuse Doctors Following Reporter's Death

ZAGREB, 12 August, 2022 - The Croatian Medical Chamber (HLK) appealed to media and citizens on Friday not to generalise about possible omissions in the medical treatment of reporter Vladimir Matijanić and aggressively accuse doctors and nurses, a vast majority of whom, it said, do their job responsibly.

"We understand the concern and anger of Croatian citizens over this death, but inciting hate against doctors and other medical professionals can only have negative consequences for the entire society," the HLK said in a statement after the circumstances of the death of reporter Vladimir Matijanić, who died on 5 August as a consequence of infection with coronavirus, attracted great public attention.

His partner Andrea Topić has said that doctors at the KBC Split hospital and emergency medical staff failed to provide him with adequate medical care even though he had a number of underlying conditions. An investigation has been launched to shed light on the circumstances of his death.

The HLK said that it, too, has the legal obligation to check doctors' decisions and that it has already launched a probe into the case.

The HLK called on all doctors making public statements to adhere to ethical principles, respect patients and protect their privacy and dignity, as well as refrain from going public with unverified information and opinions based on incomplete facts or making comments unbecoming to the medical profession.

It noted that a vast majority of Croatian doctors do their job responsibly but that the system is not organised well.

"The Croatian health system is not efficiently organised, the financing is insufficient, management is dissatisfactory, infrastructure is obsolete, and there is a great shortage of doctors and nurses," it said.

It also noted that for years it had been warning about the constantly decreasing availability and quality of health care and been giving proposals in that regard but that there had been no systematic response by the Health Ministry and state administration.

Following Matijanić's death, an investigation has been launched into the case and the Health Ministry has ordered an inspection to determine why he was not hospitalised, why he was not given an antiviral drug, and why he was not vaccinated against COVID-19 and whether there were omissions in his treatment.

Saturday, 13 August 2022

Đuroković: Water Restrictions in Istria Yield Results, Water Must be Used Sensibly

ZAGREB, 12 August, 2022 - Water restrictions in Istria have yielded results, and the situation is under control, the CEO of the state-owned Hrvatske Vode water management company, Zoran Đuroković, said on Friday, noting that water resources should be protected from pollution and calling for their sensible use.

Speaking in an interview with the Nova TV broadcaster, Đuroković said that this year's drought had the most serious consequences in the regions where water consumption was the highest - in Istria and Istria County, where 300,000 tourists are currently staying.

"The water restrictions have been complied with, and water consumption has been reduced by around 15%, so the situation in Istria is under control for now," he said.

He added that there were no problems with water supply in Zagreb, Rijeka, Split, and Osijek and that there were some problems in the area of Zadar but that they did not concern restrictions but a drop in pressure.

Asked if water restrictions could happen elsewhere in the country, he said that water restrictions were possible everywhere but that he believed appeals for sensible water use would result in water supply security.

"Croatia is a country with rich water resources. They should be protected from pollution, used sensibly, and Croatia should not have problems with water reserves," he said. Asked if the period of drought had started too early this year, he said that there was much less precipitation this year than in previous years and that serious rainfalls were needed to help rivers recover.

Saturday, 13 August 2022

Hot Air Balloon Festival to be Held in Prelog in September

ZAGREB, 13 August, 2022 - A hot air balloon festival will be held by the River Drava in Prelog on September 2-4, and visitors will be able to enjoy balloon flights, an exhibition and lectures about the history and future of hot air balloon flying, the event's organisers said on Saturday.

Ljubomir Kolarek, the mayor of the northern town of Prelog, said that more than 300 tethered rides will be organised for visitors.

The organisers expect the event to feature 10-15 hot air balloons as well as pilots from the Czech Republic, Hungary, North Macedonia and Brazil.

Speaking on behalf of the organisers, Igor Mikloušić said that hot air balloon events had been organised across Croatia for more than 30 years.

Registration for free tethered rides will be possible as of 29 August on the festival's Facebook account and web site.

Saturday, 13 August 2022

Important Scan Can Now be Done Privately with HZZO Footing the Bill

August the 13th, 2022 - There have been some absolutely horrific stories about the state of the Croatian healthcare system of late, and so it might seem as if nothing within the four walls of a hospital can be trusted. While that is absolutely not true at all, it is more than understandable that people fear potential illness. Some good news is that HZZO will now foot the bill for a test that can be done in a private facility, without all of the long waiting times typically associated with busy, overworked state hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

Magnetic resonance imaging, commonly known as MRI, can reveal an extremely wide array of issues going on within the human body in a remarkably clear way. This type of scan is used for all sorts of health issues, and the waiting times associated with them are sometimes bafflingly long. A new plan for which HZZO (Croatian Health Insurance Fund) will gladly foot the bill may relieve some of that pressing problem, which is an issue for both hospitals and of course for the patients.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, in order to reduce the usually extremely long national waiting list for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), HZZO came to what will be to most a very welcome decision on entering into a contract with Medikol Polyclinic.

As reported by the aforementioned polyclinic, according to that decision, HZZO will provide the Medikol Polyclinic with a list of patients who are on the waiting list for MRI scans in hospitals for a variety of different reasons, and the Medikol Polyclinic will provide them with magnetic resonance imaging through a referral by December the 31st, 2022. MRI scans carried out via this new agreement with HZZO will be available in Zagreb, Cakovec, Split and Osijek.

''We will be able to accept referals only from those patients who are already on waiting lists for MRI scans in hospitals and are on the list provided by HZZO,'' they wrote from Medikol when it announced the new plan on its Facebook page.

For more on healthcare in Croatia, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Saturday, 13 August 2022

Croatian Motorways Issues Advice as Another Busy Weekend is Upon Us

August the 13th, 2022 - The height of the scorching summer tourist season is now well and truly upon us, and with more and more foreign visitors entering the country either by air and then hiring cars, or by road through Croatia's many land borders, Croatian Motorways (HAC) has issued some advice to all those using the country's roads to head to their various destinations, usually on the coast.

Yet another busy summer weekend is upon us, and with an absolutely tragic accident involving a bus recently, which took the lives of several individuals, Croatian Motorways has made sure to make Croatia's road users aware of some of the realities of driving here at this wildly busy time of the year.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, during the busy summer season here in Croatia, hundreds of thousands of vehicles enter the country, which increases the risk of accidents, some of which are fatal. The head of the Centre for the Supervision and Management of Motorway Traffic, Davor Bicanic, appealed to drivers to enable the creation of a so-called emergency corridor, as reported by HRT.

''All important information from Croatian motorways and roads, especially from critical sections, such as tunnels, arrives in real time to the control room of Croatian Motorways. We're currently implementing a traffic information system, as part of which we're replacing old analog cameras with new, more technologically advanced digital cameras, around 1,700 cameras are working at this moment in time,'' Bicanic pointed out.

"This new system has the possibility of providing automatic video detection of certain incident situations, such as people driving in the opposite direction, a pedestrian being on the motorway, a vehicle which has stopped on the road, and so on. Automatic video detection enables our operators working within the traffic control and management centres to react faster and provide the latest information to other road users who find themselves on the Croatian motorways and roads which have been affected,'' he added.

When it comes to the seemingly eternal problem of terrible accidents and some absurd moves being made by arrogantly over-confident drivers, Bicanic said that it would be nice if an emergency corridor became a routine for drivers using Croatian motorways.

"An emergency corridor enables the passage of emergency medical aid vehicles, firefighters and the police, to reach the scenes of traffic accidents as soon as possible and to provide assistance to the victims involved. The emergency corridor is formed so that vehicles in the left traffic lane move as far to the left as possible, and vehicles in the right traffic lane move as far to the right as possible. For the drivers, it's a small shift, but that shift means a corridor towards remaining alive for a critically injured person,'' stressed Bicanic.

For more on Croatian motorways and driving in Croatia, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Saturday, 13 August 2022

What do Tourists in Zagreb Think of the Croatian Capital This Summer?

August the 13th, 2022 - It isn't just the Croatian coast that is booming this year, with the capital attracting more and more foreign visitors keen to discover the Croatia which lies away from the sparkling Adriatic Sea. Precisely what do tourists in Zagreb think of the bustling city?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the devastating earthquake of March 2020 and the global coronavirus pandemic well and truly left their mark on tourism in Zagreb - some of the city's accommodation facilities haven't yet been restored after the earthquake. But despite this, the metropolis has enjoyed some truly excellent results: by the end of July, 80 percent of arrivals and 85 percent of overnight stays were achieved compared to the record year of 2019 by tourists in Zagreb. The most numerous guests there have been the Germans, Americans, English, Dutch and French, as reported by HRT.

Although the City of Zagreb seems empty during these sizzling summer months because local people have gone to the coast or have headed off abroad to enjoy time off work, the famous Tkalciceva ulica (street) and Gornji grad (Upper town) are still all full. Most of the people there are foreigners.

''We really like Zagreb. We went through the city by tourist bus where we saw the cathedral and the Church of St. Mark," said Alessia from Italy.

"I was in the Museum of Broken Relationships and it was really fun, and tomorrow I'd like to go to the Museum of Illusions. You have a lot of interesting museums," said Brandon from the USA.

The turnover in souvenir shops is incomparably higher this year compared to the previous one. Tourists in Zagreb who come from all over the world are most interested in Croatian products. "Licitar hearts and little statues of monuments like the cathedral and St. Mark's church are doing well in terms of sales,'' said Angela Zafranovic, the manager of a Zagreb souvenir shop.

“We like the relaxed atmosphere and architecture throughout the city. You never know what you'll find around the corner. Just now we discovered some stairs and decided to go through there," said Pawin from Australia.

"The culture, a beautiful landscape, history and wine. We've just come back from tasting Croatian wines, which are excellent", emphasised Eugene from Las Vegas.

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

Saturday, 13 August 2022

Croatian Maritime Traffic 50% Better Than 2021, Charter Outdoes 2019

August the 13th, 2022 - Croatian maritime traffic is 50% stronger than it was last year, and the charter sector is blowing the record, pre-pandemic year of 2019 out of the water, no pun intended.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, almost 8.5 million passengers were boarded and disembarked in various Croatian seaports throughout the second quarter of this year, which is 55.7 percent of the number last year, according to official statistics. At the same time, 8.2 million passengers were transported on ferries and passenger ships, which is a 50.8 percent increase compared to the same period back in 2021.

The number of vessels in Croatian maritime traffic also grew...

The increase in passengers was achieved in all major Croatian ports, as well as in international traffic. 32.5 percent more passenger vehicles and 127.7 percent more buses were loaded and unloaded on ships compared to the same quarter last year.

Out of the total number of passengers in Croatian sea ports, 255 thousand of them disembarked from cruise ships and visited, among others, the Dalmatian ports of Dubrovnik, Split and Zadar. Considering the fact that back during the second quarter of 2021, there were only 12 thousand passengers aboard cruise ships, after that period there was a noticeable return of cruise ships to Croatian seaports, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) notes.

The total turnover of goods increased by 14.5 percent when compared to the same period back in 2021, and the port of Ploce had the highest growth of 55.5 percent, followed by Split with a growth of 42 percent. Furthermore, in the first half of 2022, the total number of ships arriving at Croatian seaports increased by 13.4 percent, the total traffic of passengers by 46 percent, and the total traffic of goods by 9.7 percent.

Although Croatian maritime traffic in tourist ports was significant even during the global coronavirus pandemic, and therefore the nautical sector represented the strongest segment of tourism, this summer season is bringing with it a new increase. In July 2022, there were 120,000 arrivals and 770,000 overnight stays in the nautical charter, which is a 23 percent increase in arrivals and 5 percent in overnight stays compared to July 2019.

Over the first six months of 2022 with revenues of 98 million kuna, the national chain of marinas (ACI) exceeded the revenue earned back in 2019 by 4.6 million kuna, meaning that results achieved are 16.4 million kuna or 20 percent higher than they were back during 2021.

In addition to all of the above, after last year's 44 million kuna worth of investments in infrastructure and services, in the first six months of 2022 alone, ACI exceeded that amount by an impressive 3.9 million kuna, realising new investments totalling 47.9 million kuna.

ACI claims that the income is the result of investments, thorough and adequate preparation for the season in all of Croatia's ACI marinas, and the easing of measures introduced during the coronavirus pandemic. ACI achieved a positive financial result in the first half of the year in the amount of 3.2 million kuna, while the realised EBITDA for the first half of the year amounted to 36.2 million kuna in total.

For more on Croatian maritime traffic and nautical tourism, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

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