Monday, 24 January 2022

Mandatory Pension Funds' Assets Reach €17.7 Billion at End-2021

ZAGREB, 24 Jan 2022 - The total assets managed by mandatory pension funds reached HRK 133 billion at the end of 2021, up by HRK 14 billion on the year, the UMFO association of pension funds  and pension insurance companies said on Monday, adding that pension funds have earned their insurees HRK 50.9 billion to date.

At the end of 2021, mandatory pension funds had 2,111,192 insurees, or 53,801 more than at the end of 2020.

Of them, 1,899,623 were in category B, which is for insurees in the middle of their career and has medium-risk investment; 150,266 were in category A, which is for younger insurees and has the highest investment risk; and 61,303 were in category C, for insurees who are about to retire and has the lowest investment risk.

Thanks to a recovery of the capital market, the average yield for category A insurees in 2021 was 13.52%, and 7.78% since its establishment, for category B it was 7.37%, and 5.51% since its establishment, and for category C it was 0.43%, and 4.48% since its establishment.

At the end of 2021, there were almost 67,000 more insurees in category A than the year before, the UMFO said, adding that this was due to the 2018 amendments to the law on mandatory pension funds as well as higher financial literacy.

The structure of mandatory pension funds' portfolio is diversifying, the UMFO said, with sovereign bonds accounting for 63.8% of the portfolios at the end of 2020 and for 57.7% at the end of last year.

Domestic shares accounted for 10.7% of the portfolios at the end of 2020 and for 12% at the end of 2021, while foreign companies' shares accounted for 9.2% of the portfolios, up by 17.7%.

At the end of last year, 397,253 citizens made voluntary pension contributions and the net assets totalled HRK 7.8 billion, up 15.8% on the end of 2020.

At the end of 2021, eight open voluntary pension funds were active in Croatia with 351,251 insurees as well as 20 closed funds with 46,002 insurees.

Among citizens with 11 to 20 years of service, 30.6% wish to save in the third pension pillar while 27.4% would like to invest in real estate.

As for citizens with less the ten years of service, 31% wish to invest in real estate and 23.3% in the third pillar, UMFO said, adding that only 5.1% of them would invest in securities and less than 10% would keep the money at home.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

Monday, 24 January 2022

Notions of 'Spheres of Influence' Have No Place in 21st Century, EU Says

ZAGREB, 24 Jan 2022 - EU foreign ministers said on Monday that notions of "spheres of interest" had no place in the 21st century and condemned Russia's threats against Ukraine, threatening Moscow with "massive consequences" if it attacks Ukraine.

"Notions of 'spheres of influence' have no place in the 21st century," the Council said in conclusions on the European security situation.

EU foreign ministers met in Brussels today and the main topic was the tense situation on Ukrainian borders, where Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops.

"The Council condemns Russia’s continued aggressive actions and threats against Ukraine, and calls on Russia to de-escalate, to abide by international law and to engage constructively in dialogue through the established international mechanisms," the conclusions say, adding that "any further military aggression by Russia against Ukraine will have massive consequences and severe costs."

That "includes a wide array of sectoral and individual restrictive measures that would be adopted in coordination with partners."

Due to the situation in Ukraine, some countries have announced downsizing their diplomatic missions and advised against travel there.

Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said Croatia was monitoring the situation and that for now there was no reasons to withdraw diplomats.

"The EU High Representative for the foreign and security policy, Josep Borrell, has said that for now there is no reason to evacuate. Croatia will follow the situation and the EU's position. There might be a change, but for now the member states won't withdraw their diplomats," he said.

Monday, 24 January 2022

Croatian Baby Beef Exporters Given Access to Japanese Market

ZAGREB, 24 Jan 2022 - Croatia's ministry of agriculture, in cooperation with Croatian producers, has ensured the access of Croatian-produced baby beef to the Japanese market, the ministry stated on Monday.

The access has been gained because of efforts and programmes for the eradication and control of major infectious diseases in animals. These efforts enable Croatia to get recognition from the World Organisation for Animal Health (formerly the Office International des Epizooties, OIE) and to prove the equivalency of the system of control of animal health and products of animal origin to the relevant authorities in Japan.

Having access to the demanding Japanese market is also a great reference for Croatian products on other foreign markets, the ministry stated.

The Croatian ministry continues to make efforts, either on its own or in cooperation with the European Commission, to get other markets open to Croatian products.

Thus, in 2021, Croatian fishery products, mixed products and raw and salted skin got access to Israel. Also, Croatia got the green light for exporting milk and dairy products to Libya, sheep and goats to Iran, pet food to Albania, ice cream to Costa Rica and gelatin capsules to Egypt.

Monday, 24 January 2022

Main Infrastructure Projects for Zadar County Presented to Minister

ZAGREB, 24 Jan 2022 - Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković on Monday held talks with Zadar County Prefect Božidar Longin  on to the most important transport and infrastructure projects in that county including a connecting four-lane road from the Zadar 1 exit on the motorway.

After the meeting, Butković visited the construction site on the Zadar waterfront which is being reconstructed and said that this was yet another large project in building port infrastructure along with the first European project and a new port in Tkon and Sali.

"This is a very important project and Zadar County is one of the more successful. Preparations are underway and new financing is being negotiated for the seaports at Preko and Biograd. The Biograd port, similar to the one in Gaženica, will transfer traffic while the Preko port will get a new breakwater," said Butković.

"During the meeting, there was talk about a maritime route between Zadar and Ancona which needs to be restored because these are the two closest points on both sides of the Adriatic and Jadrolinija recently shut down that line because it wasn't feasible. At the same time, the line from Split has survived because it is subsidised. The connection with Ancona is important primarily due to freight transport but also for passenger transport," Longin underscored. Minister Butković promised to talk about this issue with Jadrolinija director David Sopta.

There was also talk about amendments to the county's physical plan which are underway and of identifying priorities of all road directions, railway routes, the Zadar airport and port traffic.

Monday, 24 January 2022

EU Must Send Strong Message to Those Halting Bosnia Election Reform, Croatia FM Says

ZAGREB, 24 Jan 2022 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Monday the EU must send a clear and strong message to those halting the electoral reform process in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Grlić Radman was in Brussels attending a meeting of EU ministers.

Speaking to the press, he said he had spoken of the situation in BiH and informed his counterparts about efforts to amend the electoral law in which US and EU representatives are involved.

"I informed them about the worrying situation in BiH. I said that it's necessary for the EU to send a strong, clear and unambiguous message to those who are halting electoral law changes and whom the status quo suits."

He reiterated that it's necessary to change the electoral law in order to eliminate all forms of discrimination in the election process and to enable the legitimate representation of the three constituent peoples in state bodies.

Grlić Radman said several of his counterparts had supported his stand and that more political efforts should be invested in BiH so that it did not become an area of interest of third countries.

Monday, 24 January 2022

President Talks with Croatian Earthquake Engineering Centre Representatives

ZAGREB, 24 Jan 2022 - President Zoran Milanović on Monday received representatives of the Croatian Earthquake Engineering Centre (HCPI) for talks on the state of buildings damaged in the 2020 earthquakes in Zagreb and the Banovina region.

HCPI was established last October and has become one of the fundamental operative forces within the Civil Protection Directorate, the president's office said in a press release.

HCPI representatives told the president their engagement is envisaged after major natural disasters when a larger number of structures is damaged and rapid response is required from engineers to professionally inspect the structures and provide a rapid evaluation of their usability.

They also talked about the state of buildings and houses damaged in the 2020 earthquakes as well as the importance of quality post-earthquake construction and reconstruction.

After the March 2020 quake in Zagreb, Zagreb Faculty of Civil Engineering professor and HCPI coordinator Josip Atalić brought together structural engineers who visited the damaged buildings and houses, did quick checks and issued stickers denoting their usability.

HCPI engineers inspected 25,580 buildings in the Zagreb area at that time, and another 813 buildings since.

HCPI representatives said they self-organised after the Zagreb earthquake and visited the area because there was no earthquake plan. They did the same after the earthquake in December 2020 in Sisak-Moslavina County, with 1,700 engineers volunteering in the inspections.

Monday, 24 January 2022

11 Athletes to Represent Croatia at Winter Olympic Games in Beijing

ZAGREB, 24 Jan 2022 - During the 4-20 February Winter Olympics in Beijing, 11 athletes will represent Croatia, ten of whom are member of the Croatian Ski Federation, Croatia's Olympic committee said on Monday.

Croatia's skiers include Zrinka Ljutić, Leona Popović and Andrea Komšić in the women's events and Filip Zubčić, Matej Vidović and Samuel Kolega in the men's Alpine skiing events and all of them, except Vidović, will compete in both the Slalom and Giant Slalom, while Vidović will only take part in the Slalom event.

Vedrana Malec, Marko Skender and Tena Hadžić will represent Croatia in the Nordic events.

Lea Jugovac will compete in snowboard events including Big Air and Slopestyle.

Croatia to have one competitor in Speed Skating

Valentina Aščić will take part in the short track - 500 and 1,500 metres.

Croatia had 11 athletes at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia in 2014, while a record number of Croatian athletes, 23, participated in the games in Turin in 2006.

Monday, 24 January 2022

Split County Supporting Several Cultural Heritage Preservation Projects

ZAGREB, 24 Jan 2022 - Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek on Monday held talks with Split-Dalmatia County Prefect Blaženko Boban on cultural projects that the county has prepared for the next multiannual period including the construction of a museum within the fortress on the island of Vis.

Addressing the press after the meeting, which was held in Split, Minister Obuljen Koržinek underscored the construction of a new museum in the fortress on Vis Island, the Salona archaeological site, the Archaeological Museum in Split with its focus being on Salona - and the further exploration and presentation of that ancient locality.

We also discussed the ancient Stećak tombstones and I would like to mention something we discussed ten days ago in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and a new project to finance agriculture on archaeological and protected historical sites, she said.

Split-Dalmatia County has three sites listed on the UNESCO list, the minister said. She added that it is the only county that have as many as three conservation departments, which bears witness to the intensity and wealth of its cultural heritage.

The ministry is aware that no matter how much is invested in preserving this rich heritage, that will not be sufficient. Hence it is necessary to identify priorities and in that regard to further invest in cultural heritage because of its value, the importance for the community and huge potential to attract tourists, the minister said.

Monday, 24 January 2022

Science Foundation Representatives, President Agree Total Investments in Science Insufficient

ZAGREB, 24 Jan 2022 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović and a delegation of the Croatian Science Foundation said at a meeting on Monday that total investments in science in Croatia are insufficient.

The meeting at the Office of the President was prompted by the annual report of the Croatian Science Foundation presenting work and support to research projects in 2021, the president's office said in a statement.

The Croatian Science Foundation, which is the country's most important institution financing research projects, was founded in 2001 by the parliament to promote science, higher education and technological development as well as secure support for research, higher education and technological programmes and projects.

Its officials said that over the past 20 years the Foundation had developed an independent system of evaluation and selection of the best projects and researchers, having become the most important institution for the financing of Croatian science and researchers.

"Guided by the principles of scientific excellence, impartiality and transparency and by applying the internationally accepted standards of research success, the Foundation has so far funded, from budgetary and extra-budgetary sources, the development of careers of young researchers and projects in the amount of more than HRK 1.1 billion," the statement from the president's office said.

In 2021 alone, the Foundation's financial assistance to research projects totalled HRK 227 million.

Total investments in science in Croatia are insufficient, it was said at the meeting, with the Foundation's representatives stressing that their mission was to contribute to development, which was not possible without science.

Speaking of the results so far, the Foundation's representatives pointed out more than 2,000 projects, of which many were successful on the global scale, as well as cooperation with more than 900 young researchers and around 6,000 scientists who work at Croatian institutes and universities.

New generations of PhD holders are being educated and trained in a dozen of national and international programmes, the Foundation has enabled the establishment of own research groups for young researchers, and supported leading Croatian scientists in implementing research that is of national significance or is internationally competitive, the Foundation's officials said.

Monday, 24 January 2022

Croatia Logs 1,831 New COVID-19 Infections, 44 Deaths

ZAGREB, 24 Jan 2022 - A total of 1,831 new COVID cases have been detected in Croatia in the past 24 hours, and 44 people have died from coronavirus infection, the national COVID response team reported on Monday.

The number of active cases stands at 57,073.

Among them are 1,926 hospitalised patients, of whom 198 are on ventilators.

A total of 42,037 people are self-isolating.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic in Croatia in late February 2020, a total of 878,891 cases of the novel coronavirus have been registered and 13,451 people have died from the infection.

A total of 808,367 people have recovered, including 8,301 in the past 24 hours.

So far 4,114,212 people have been tested for the virus, including 4,315 in the past 24 hours.

The current vaccination rate is 56.40% of the total population, or 67.13% of the adult population.

A total of 2,288,744 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose, and 2,196,911 have been fully vaccinated, which is 64.60% of the adult population.

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