Friday, 10 September 2021

Police Director Says USKOK Anti-Corruption Operation Refers to Six Persons

ZAGREB, 10 Sept 2021 - National police director Nikola Milina said on Friday that a major anti-corruption operation launched in the northern region of Međimurje on Friday morning by police and the USKOK anti-corruption agency referred to six persons, without saying if one of them is Međimurje County head Matija Posavec.

"The operation refers to six people," Milina said when asked by reporters if Posavec was arrested.

Milina explained that the persons in question were suspected of corruption.

He stressed that major efforts had been invested to fight corruption and that in the first eight months of 2021, 682 crimes of corruption had been reported, over 80% more than in the same period of 2020.

According to unofficial reports, Međimurje County head Posavec was arrested for taking a bribe in the operation launched against six people, including Social Democrat MP and former Čakovec mayor Stjepan Kovač.

They are suspected of bribery, influence-peddling and abuse of office.

The Večernji List daily has reported that Posavec allegedly took a bribe of HRK 10,000 to employ a person.

The parliamentary Privileges and Credentials Commission is expected to meet at 3 pm to decide on USKOK's motion to strip Kovač of immunity.

For the latest news on politics in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Transparent Samobor Provides Automated Display of Payments, Contracts

July the 27th, 2021 - Transparency isn't something the Croatian authorities are all that used to. With corruption apparently being tackled with a wave of new mayors and local government units doing things differently, one continental Croatian town is going a step further. Meet transparent Samobor.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, in July, Samobor became the only city in all of Croatia to boast an automated display of all of the payments, invoices, contracts and purchase orders made by Samobor's administration in one place, thanks to the digital service iTransparency made by the Zagreb IT and consulting company Libusoft Cicom.

This digital service enables the creation of a transparent Samobor, the publication of timely, accessible, accurate and credible information on the implementation of budget items, which, among other things, prevents irresponsible actions and misuse of public funds, while local government units are encouraged to publish and explain their own budget documentation.

At the same time, the general level of information available to people, the media, entrepreneurs and even investors about local strategies and actions and their results has been raised, and it's all available in just a few clicks on the following website:

The director of the company responsible for the development of the newly transparent Samobor's service, Marko Ignjatovic, explained just how the system works and what it means for this city.

“Samobor is currently being provided with insight into payments made out to both individuals and legal entities, as well as incoming invoices, contracts and purchase orders, which will provide people with an accurate insight into all operations. On top of that, further improvements in functionality are being made to make new search and filtering capabilities available; according to time and the desired classification.

The possibility of corruption is definitely now reduced to a minimum and from our experience so far, we can say that the first results are visible very quickly. Unlike some competing solutions, our iTransparency system simply connects to other systems, and all of the data comes in automatically. In this way, additional costs and the possibility of mistakes are avoided, and business itself is facilitated,'' stated Ignjatovic.

The value of the project ranges from 20 to 30,000 kuna. and the company's team gradually developed and upgraded it over the years, while the introduction of the system in Samobor was worked on intensively for two weeks.

The iTransparency service is just one of the nine functionalities of the company within the LC Platform Open that can be implemented in the business of counties, cities and municipalities.

"So far, about 20 cities and about 10 municipalities have joined the project, and some more are currently in the process of being introduced. Digitisation and transparency are no longer a matter of choice but a legal obligation. As a direct consequence of the introduction of digitalisation and transparency, JLP (R) S is becoming more open to people, it's becoming easier and faster to communicate digitally, we can facilitate business insight, and it allows for more efficient budget management and the optimisation of investments,'' said the director.

Most of their team, out of a total of 140 experts, are based in Zagreb, but in order to be more easily accessible to many users, some are located in four business centres in Dalmatia, Primorje, Istria and even further east in Slavonia.

So far, they have achieved successful cooperation with more than 1,200 users, which include budget users, utility companies, residential building managers, companies and non-profit organisations, meaning that the newly transparent Samobor is one client in a long line for this successful Croatian enterprise.

“Thanks to 29 years of experience and numerous references, we've become leaders in the segment of software solutions intended for local and regional self-government units. We're proud to be able to stand out in the field of customer support, consulting services, online education and consulting, system and technical support, design and implementation, etc. Thanks to this transformation of business and comprehensive service, in addition to being an IT company here on the Croatian market, we've also profiled ourselves as a successful consulting company,'' stated Ignjatovic.

For more, follow our politics section.

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

European Commission Criticizes Croatia Over Corruption

ZAGREB, Sept 30, 2020 - The European Commission criticizes Croatia over corruption and says that its fight against corruption is insufficient, however, the Croatian justice system has made progress on reducing backlogs.

The first annual report on the rule of law in the European Union's member states, which the EC released on Wednesday, covers the following four pillars: Justice System, Anti-Corruption Framework, Media Pluralism, and Other Institutional Issues related to Checks and Balances.

The country chapter on Croatia includes serious objections to the Anti-Corruption Framework.

"Croatia has the legal and policy framework to promote integrity and prevent corruption in the public sector broadly in place. A network of authorities contribute to anti-corruption policymaking across all branches of government," reads the report.

"However, shortcomings remain both in the legislation and practices to combat corruption. Important initiatives to strengthen ethics and integrity amongst top executive functions and Members of Parliament and to regulate lobbying remain unimplemented. Corruption remains of particular concern at the local level due to structural weaknesses in the integrity framework for local office-holders and the management of local State-owned companies."

The report notes that on 18 September, the Croatian Justice and Public Administration Minister announced a new Anti-Corruption Strategy for 2021-2030.

Justice system: Progress in reducing backlogs 

The Croatian justice system is praised for having made progress in reducing backlogs and improving electronic communication in courts.

The system, however, "is still experiencing serious efficiency and quality challenges."

"The State Judicial Council and the State Attorney’s Council, autonomous and independent bodies, are facing challenges to adequately fulfill their mandate due to a lack of sufficient resources as well as the fact that their role in selecting judges and state attorneys has been reduced."

The centralized postal delivery of court documents is a positive example of saving resources in courts.

Media pluralism

Croatia's legal and institutional framework guarantees media pluralism.

The regulator Agency for Electronic Media "functions transparently, but it is not entirely shielded from political influence in relation to the selection procedure of the members of its governing body."

"The rules on transparency of media ownership ensure a solid system of ownership notification to the authorities and the public, but the identification of the beneficial owner can be problematic.

"Recent years witnessed a high number of lawsuits against journalists, threats of physical attack and online harassment, which may have an impact on the editorial policy of media companies and on the work of investigative journalists," reads the Croatian country chapter.

System of checks and balances

The system of checks and balances is supported, among others, through online tools for consultation of the public and other stakeholders, and by a People's Ombudsperson and an Information Commissioner competent for protecting the right to access public information.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Croatia Has Met Only 1 Of 3 GRECO Anti-Corruption Recommendations For Lawmakers

ZAGREB, June 4, 2020 - Croatia has fulfilled only one out of the three recommendations made by GRECO, the Council of Europe anti-corruption body, concerning parliamentary deputies, and together with Hungary, Poland and Austria, Zagreb is one of the underperformers in this category, the Vecernji List daily wrote on Thursday.

Of 42 Council of Europe member-states covered by recommendations, the above-mentioned four countries have the poorest outcome in meeting the recommendations made in a bid to curb corruption among parliamentarians, the Vecernji List says in the article headlined, "Croatia fails to abide by anti-corruption recommendations for MPs".

GRECO, headed by Croatian judge Marin Mrcela, who is the Croatian Supreme Court's vice-president, has recommended the adoption of a code of conduct for MPs, however, Zagreb has not yet done that.

The code of conduct is supposed to provide guidelines for the conduct of lawmakers during their meetings with lobbyists or anyone advocating their cause. The document should also specify what MPs can accept as gifts and so on. A deadline that Croatia has set on itself to adopt the code expired in late 2015. The deadline was specified in the 2015-2020 strategy for the fight against corruption.

GRECO has in the meantime proposed new recommendations, including the adoption of a code of conduct for top state office-holders.

GRECO has already recommended the strengthening of the role of the Conflict of Interest Commission.