Thursday, 17 March 2022

Prime Minister Says More People Allowed at Events, Children no Longer Need to Self-test

ZAGREB, 17 March 2022 - The COVID situation allows for further relaxing restrictions, so more people will be allowed at public events and hospitality establishments to stay open longer, while the self-testing of children in schools is being revoked, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday.

There will no longer be restrictions on the number of people allowed at events for which COVID certificates are required. Bars and restaurants can stay open until 2 am. Also, pre-school children will not have to self-isolate.

Restrictions will also be relaxed for sporting competitions, cultural events, fairs and other economic and tourism events taking place indoors, as well as religious services.

Speaking at cabinet session, Plenković said the consequences of infection with the Omicron variant were much milder than before, "but we must stay on high alert, the virus is still here and has the gravest consequences on some citizens."

He added that 70.6% of adults have been vaccinated with at least one dose.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Thursday, 17 March 2022

Plenković Announces Stronger Cooperation With Spain

ZAGREB, 17 March 2022 - Wrapping up his visit to Spain on Wednesday evening, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković announced the further strengthening of bilateral relations in economy, science, culture in the Mediterranean as well as cooperation in international issues such as the Ukraine conflict.

"Spain has extended strong political support for Croatia's entry to Schengen, the euro area and the OECD. We appreciate the cooperation in the Mediterranean", Plenković said after meeting with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

Plenković was the first Croatian prime minister who visited Spain since 1996.

"I took the opportunity for talks on Southeast Europe as well, on the need to reform the election law in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We want that law to be just for all three constituent peoples, so that they can elect their true representatives", he said, adding that Croatia will support BiH on its EU path.

The situation in BiH is not in Madrid's focus.

Sánchez said they confirmed that they would strengthen the bilateral relations and commended the cooperation with Croatia in the Council of the EU.

This year marks 30 years of bilateral relations between the two countries.

After meeting with Sánchez, Plenković met with Congress of Deputies President Meritxell Batet for talks on parliamentary cooperation and the humanitarian repercussions of the Russian aggression on Ukraine.

He was then received by King Felipe VI at the royal palace.

Speaking to the press afterwards, Plenković said the meeting was cordial. They exchanged views on bilateral and European matters.

"Faced with new security challenges, we are strengthening our partnership within the EU and NATO", he wrote on Twitter.

King Felipe VI vacationed on the Croatian coast in the past and an official visit is being arranged.

Plenković wrapped up his visit by meeting with the Croats living in Madrid at the Croatian Embassy, telling them to continue to develop cooperation in all areas.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 12 March 2022

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković Visits Drone Crash Site in Zagreb

ZAGREB, 12 March 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković visited the drone crash site in Zagreb on Saturday morning. 

A Soviet-era unmanned aerial vehicle crashed in the Jarun area of southeast Zagreb on Thursday night. 

The drone was launched from the territory of Ukraine and crashed in Zagreb shortly after 11 pm on Thursday after running out of fuel, having flown over Romania and Hungary.

"We don't know whose it is, everyone says it isn't theirs," Plenković said. He added that it was down to luck that no one had been hurt, apart from about 40 cars that had been damaged in a nearby car park.

"This indicates the need for closer cooperation within NATO itself because this is NATO's air space, as well as Romania's Hungary's and Croatia's. We cannot tolerate this kind of situation and it should not happen in the future. This was a very clear and present threat which requires a response," the prime minister said.

Plenković said that he would raise this issue in all NATO and EU institutions and call for an effective and rapid response. He added that yesterday he had informed all EU leaders of what had happened and had sent a letter to NATO's secretary-general noting that something like this could happen to other cities.

Theoretically speaking, this could have been Budapest, Ljubljana or Bratislava, but what is important is for us to step up our cooperation, he said.

"Was it accidental, was it an error, was it intentional, we don't know at this moment," Plenković said, adding that the incident was being investigated by the military, police, and the State Attorney's Office.

He said that the drone would be dug out of the ground to see if contained any valuable information, and the authorities would contact other countries for more information.

The prime minister was accompanied by relevant government officials.

For more on politics, visit TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Government Adopts €667 Million Worth of Measures to Buffer Energy Price Hikes

ZAGREB, 9 March 2022 - The government on Wednesday adopted a set of measures to buffer energy price hikes worth almost HRK 5 billion, including a bill of amendments to the VAT Act, decisions to subsidise gas prices for households and small businesses, and once-only aid to pensioners and the socially vulnerable.

The measures enter into force on 1 April, whereby the government is directly helping households and businesses, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said.

The measures are aligned with European Commission guidelines which allow for regulating prices in case of need and justifiable circumstances, he added.

VAT cuts

The government sent amendments to the VAT Act to parliament for fast-track adoption, under which VAT would be reduced from 25% and 13% to 5% on children's food, edible oils and fats, butter and margarine, live animals, fresh meat and fish, vegetables, fruit, eggs, seedlings, fertilisers and pesticides, food for animals, and tickets for concerts, sporting and cultural events.

The government also proposed a 13% VAT rate on natural gas and heat deliveries, firewood, and menstrual products, among other things, and a 5% VAT rate on natural gas deliveries from 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023.

The VAT cuts are estimated at HRK 2.1 billion.

Gas subsidies for households and businesses

To buffer the impact of gas price hikes, the government decided to subsidise the price for households with HRK 0.10/kWh as well as the price for microbusinesses and SMEs, whose average annual consumption is up to 10GWh, with HRK 0.15/kWh.

The cost of the subsidies is HRK 1.2 billion and will be financed by selling greenhouse gas emission units at an auction in Croatia. The government estimates that the revenue from the sale of those units by 2025 will amount to HRK 4.72 billion.

The government also decided to release 22,000 tonnes of diesel on the market to be sold at market prices.

Measures for the socially vulnerable

At the moment 51,000 persons eligible for a minimum allowance and 40,000 persons eligible for disability benefits and members of their households receive HRK 200 a month for their electricity bills. Today the government decided that 5,700 elderly persons eligible for the national allowance will also be entitled to this monthly allowance.

As of 1 April, this HRK 200 allowance will be doubled to cover gas bills. The annual cost of this measure will be HRK 300 million.

The government also adopted a decision on a monthly allowance, ranging from HRK 1,000 to 4,000, for 1,100 providers of social services for 40,000 persons.

Additionally, 2,570 foster families and 6,000 beneficiaries will be entitled to a HRK 400 monthly allowance, which measure will cost HRK 33 million.

The government tasked the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund with paying HRK 1.2 billion from the auction sale of emission units into the state budget to be used as direct support to energy end buyers.

Energy allowance for pensioners

The government adopted a decision on a once-only allowance for 721,000 pensioners whose monthly pension is up to HRK 4,000.

Those whose pensions are up to HRK 1,500 will receive a HRK 1,200 allowance, those with pensions between HRK 1,500 and 2,000 will receive HRK 900, those with pensions between HRK 2,000 and 3,000 will receive HRK 600, and those with pensions between HRK 3,000 and 4,000 will receive a HRK 400 allowance. The cost of this measure totals HRK 480 million.

Aid to farmers and fishermen

The set of measures also envisages aid for 88,000 family farms estimated at HRK 200 million and for fishermen in the amount of HRK 75 million. This aid is subject to approval by the European Commission.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

For more information on this, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Plenković: Women's Equality Precondition for Modern and Healthy Society

ZAGREB, 9 March 2022 - Referring to International Women's Day on Wednesday Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that equality between women and men "is a precondition for a modern, successful and healthy society that we are building together."

"Equality between women and men is a right and a fundamental value of our constitution and legislative framework," Plenković said in his opening remarks at a cabinet meeting.

He mentioned women in Ukraine, saying that their "fundamental rights and security are threatened in these difficult circumstances" of Russian military aggression.

Plenković said that International Women's Day is an opportunity to examine women's position in Croatian society, "inequality between women and men on the labour market, discrimination, and in particular psychological and physical violence against women, and prejudices and stereotypes that cause them."

He said that equality means equal status, equal opportunity, equal reward for the results achieved, dignity and respect.

He added that his government is focused on protecting women's rights and freedoms, and resolute in condemning and fighting any form of discrimination and violence.

"I think we are changing things for the better, creating a society in which women and men live in equality in all spheres of life. That is a precondition for a modern, successful and healthy society that we are building together," the prime minister said.

Plenković congratulated Ivan Paladina on becoming the new Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets, after he had received the trust of the ruling majority in Parliament. He wished him success in his work, particularly in speeding up the post-earthquake reconstruction of Zagreb and the Banovina region.

For more information on this, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Croatian Parliament Adopts Government Report on Situation in Ukraine

ZAGREB, 9 March 2022 - The Croatian parliament on Wednesday adopted the prime minister's report on the situation in Ukraine, which strongly condemned the Russian invasion and praised the Ukrainian military and people for their heroic resistance.

Also adopted were government measures relating to the humanitarian, healthcare, financial, banking, energy, transport, defence and other sectors, and the government was called upon to consider the proposals put forward by MPs.

In the report, presented last week, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković expressed full support for the Ukrainian people "who are dying for European values".

"Supporting Ukraine and respecting the courage of Ukrainians not to flee before tanks, not to give in to blackmail, not to bow down their heads, to be inspired by love of their country as the Croats were in the Homeland War, let us stand together with Ukraine and Ukrainians today. Glory to Ukraine!" Plenković said.

Parliament adopted amendments to the Court Register Act and the Companies Act aimed at helping companies avoid a bankruptcy.

Also adopted was the proposal to declare 14 May, Croatian Diabetes Day. An estimated 500,000 people in Croatia have diabetes, and the importance of this topic will be marked twice a year - on World Diabetes Day (14 November) and Croatian Diabetes Day (14 May).

The ruling majority rejected the proposal by Marijan Pavliček (Croatian Sovereignists) to amend the Civil Protection System Act so that all decisions made by the national COVID-19 response team would be put to a vote in Parliament.

For more information on this and more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Paladina Has Accepted Nomination to Help Post-quake Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 9 March 2022 - Ivan Paladina, who has been nominated as the candidate for the new construction minister, said on Wednesday that he could not turn down the proposal made by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković for his nomination as it is a call to rebuild the earthquake-affected homes of Croatian citizens.

"We have little time and a lot of work to do. I accepted this proposal as it also concerns the call to reconstruct the homes of our compatriots," Paldina said while presenting his agenda at a joint meeting of the parliamentary committees on construction and the economy today.

He said that he is always guided by principles of cooperation, inclusion of different opinions and that he always listens to the opinions of professionals and wants to make things simpler.

"Administrative obstacles must not slow down the reconstruction of anyone's home and they must not hinder progress. People, who suffered damage in the (2020) earthquakes, must not fall victim to rules", he said.

He will also focus on making legislative changes so as to accelerate the processes of post-quake reconstruction.

Concerning the criticism from the Opposition that he was an executive of the company that ran the Kupari Luxury Hotels project, Paladina underscored that he had withdrawn from that project four years ago and that he launched procedures to exit from ownership, in this case, two years ago.

"All the investments I was included in were conducted in line with the law and market principles, and I paid my taxes accordingly", he said.

In response to the questions from opposition MPs, Paladina said that to date he has completed many successful investment projects in construction and real estate and that his experience could be useful for the post-quake reconstruction.

The ministerial nominee said that he had already consulted experts and has detected the main problems in the process of the post-quake reconstruction.

For more information on this, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

PM: Construction Minister Nominee's Experience, Enthusiasm to Contribute to Government

ZAGREB, 9 March 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Wednesday presented the nominated minister of construction, Ivan Paladina, in the parliament, and said that the candidate's experience and enthusiasm are supposed to be a useful contribution to his cabinet.

"The government needs a man with the experience in the construction sector, project management, and real estate and with managerial and entrepreneurial skills so as to make the processes more dynamic," Plenković said at the joint meeting of the parliamentary committees on construction and the economy.

Paladina, born in 1983, graduated from a faculty of economics and has also a postgraduate degree in management. He used to be an advisor to the management of Hrvatska Poštanska Bank (HPB) and before that he had been the chair of the management board of the IGH Institut construction company.

The PM said today that the ministerial department of construction and zoning had three important tasks: to accelerate the post-quake reconstruction, to make the issuance of building permits and other documents faster and simpler in order to boost the investment cycle, as well as to make use of the state property.

For more information on this, check out our dedicated politics section.

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

New Fuel Prices at Croatian Gas Stations Announced

March 8, 2022 - The government has made a decision that fixes the margin of oil traders and temporarily reduces excise duties on diesel and gasoline to mitigate rising prices. Thus, as of today, new fuel prices at Croatian gas stations are more expensive.

The new price of regular diesel is now HRK 12.51, and Class Plus diesel HRK 13.56. Ordinary petrol, ie Eurosuper 95 now costs 12.18 kuna, while Eurosuper 100 costs 13.11 kuna.

Recall, the government has made a decision which fixes the margin of oil traders and temporarily reduces excise duties on diesel and gasoline to mitigate rising prices, said Prime Minister Andrej Plenković in the introduction to the government session, writes N1.

"Fixing the price could lead to the closure of some gas stations"

If the retail price fix was extended, many distributors in the market would face the situation of operating at a loss, which could lead to the closure of some gas stations, he added.

"In order to avoid such a situation, we will enable their further business by fixing the total margin for diesel and gasoline at 0.75 kunas per liter and 0.50 kuna per liter for blue diesel," said Plenković.

Excise duties and margins will be valid for 90 days

In addition, he added, the amendments to the Decree on Excise Duties will reduce the number of excise duties on diesel and gasoline by 90 lipas per liter of unleaded motor gasoline and 20 lipas per liter of diesel fuel for a period of 90 days.

"In this way, we want to contribute to reducing the price shock on our citizens, and according to our calculations, this will lead to a reduction in state budget revenues from excise duties on energy over 150 million kunas," said Plenković

According to government estimates, the new measures will keep the price increase per liter of fuel, whether diesel or petrol, which would amount to around two kunas in real market trends, from an increase of 80 lipas to 1.20 kuna.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 6 March 2022

Croatia-UAE Cooperation Becoming 'More Serious', PM Says

ZAGREB, 6 March 2022 - The cooperation between Croatia and the United Arab Emirates will soon become more intensive and more serious, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said at a business forum between the two countries in Dubai on Sunday.

Plenković, Finance Minister Zdravko Marić, Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman and Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac arrived at Expo 2020 on the occasion of Croatian National Day at the exhibition.

They came to Dubai with numerous Croatian business people who attended the business forum.

"I would say that this stay at Expo, such a big turnout of Croatian business people and this business forum will contribute to increasing trade, which will soon pass US$ 100 million again," the prime minister said.

After meeting with UAE leaders, he said he had a "strong confidence that the cooperation between Croatia and the UAE will take a more intensive and more serious direction."

At the forum, Plenković presented the Croatian economy to the Arab participants, saying that Croatia has a stable economic growth and the highest investment rating in its history.

For more, check out our business section.

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