Friday, 19 March 2021

Croatian National Bank: "45% of Croatia's Citizens Support Euro Adoption"

ZAGREB, 19 March, 2021 - The percentage of Croatian citizens who support the adoption of the euro in February this year has reached 45%, up by four percentage points from 41% in a previous survey, conducted in March 2020, the Croatian National Bank (HNB) said on Friday.

The fourth public opinion poll on the adoption of the euro was carried out for the HNB by the Ipsos agency from 23 February 2021 to 1 March 2021.

Nineteen percent of citizens are against the adoption of the euro, while 26% are either against or in favour depending on other factors, and 10% of the respondents do not know, the HNB said.

Also, they said, an increasing number of citizens think that the effect of the euro will be positive. Some of the advantages they see include easier payment and business, as well as the fact that the euro is the common currency in the euro area, which would make Croatia equal to other members of the monetary union.

On the other hand, they see a decline in the standard of living and purchasing power as the main risk, and over a third of citizens think that the adoption of the euro will further increase prices.

To date, the poll has been carried out four times: in August 2018, in February 2019, in March 2020 and in February 2021. The survey is conducted on a nationally representative sample of 1,000 respondents, aged 18 to 79, using computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI), and it covers four thematic units: the use of the euro in the Republic of Croatia by foreign citizens, how informed citizens are on the adoption of the euro, citizens' attitudes to the adoption of the euro and their expectations.

The aim of the survey is to determine whether Croatian citizens support the strategic commitment of the government and the HNB to adopting the euro as the official currency in Croatia and whether they are aware of all the benefits that the adoption of the euro will bring to them and the national economy.

For more about business in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 19 March 2021

Advantages of Euro Currency Significant but Economy Needs to be More Flexible

ZAGREB, 19 March, 2021 - Croatia will enter the euro area on 1 January 2023 at the earliest, and introducing the euro has a number of advantages but for those advantages to be greater the economy needs to be more flexible, including with regard to the labour market, a conference heard on Friday.

The conference, focusing on the introduction of the euro as the official currency in Croatia, was organised by the students' association Financial Club.

Croatian National Bank (HNB) Governor Boris Vujčić said in his opening remarks that Croatia cannot enter the euro zone before 1 January 2023.

"Whether Croatia will enter the euro area on 1 January 2023 or a year or two later, depends on when it will meet the nominal convergence criteria," said Vujčić, recalling that in July 2020, Croatia entered the European Exchange Rate Mechanism II (ERM II), a sort of waiting room for the euro.

He explained that the ERM II envisaged a minimum two years of participation in it so that a candidate aspiring to join the euro area can meet the nominal convergence criteria (Maastricht criteria). On the other hand, if it does not satisfy the criteria, which refer to the stability of the exchange rate, prices and interest rates, the budget deficit and the level of foreign debt, a country can remain in the ERM II indefinitely, Vujčić said.

He recalled a survey indicating that citizens fear that with the introduction of the euro the standard of living will deteriorate and prices will increase. However, surveys in countries that have already introduced the euro indicate that prices increased by 0.23 percentage points on average in the year when the euro was introduced, mostly for everyday goods such as coffee. Prices of such products are relatively lower so their increase could have been relatively high due to rounding off.

"That left the impression in public that prices increased more than they did," explained Vujčić, underscoring that the standard of living did not fall in any country that introduced the euro but rather it improved.

Ćorić: Biggest advantage to companies exporting to euro area

Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Ćorić said that it was clear that citizens would not start living better on the first day of introducing the euro, however, what points to better prospects was the fact that the macro environment in the euro area was free of risks that non-member countries were faced with.

The risk premium in all countries that entered the euro area has dropped, said Ćorić, noting that that was something that in normal circumstances should  bring benefits to Croatia, such as reducing yields on long-term security instruments and lower interest rates on commercial and consumer loans.

Considering, however, that we live in "fairly radical economic times," and a period of very low interest rates, the effects which countries that entered the euro area some ten years ago had would be somewhat lower, however, they would still be significant, he said.

The advantages are potentially biggest for export-oriented companies considering that the exchange rate risk will be eliminated, he said.

Ćorić said that the project for euro introduction was not an end in itself but was primarily a very good tool for Croatia's long-term economic growth and development.

Mačkić: Flexibility of labour market, final goods and services market

President Zoran Milanovic's economic adviser, Velibor Mačkić, conveyed the president's message saying that it was necessary to discuss the benefits and potential harm of Croatia joining the euro area.

Mačkić believes that Croatia has not developed its own institutions sufficiently and that that poses a problem. "The country needs a different economy, a much more flexible economy, to be able to benefit more significantly from the monetary union," said Mačkić.

He added that the labour market and the market of final products and services need to be more flexible.

Mačkić underlined the importance of an efficient fiscal policy and of the reform of the tax system which Mačkić believes needs to change from "a consumption-based to income-based tax system."

For more about business in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Zagreb Stock Exchange: Indices Fall For Second Day Amid Weak Trading

ZAGREB, 17 March, 2021 - The main Zagreb Stock Exchange indices slipped on Wednesday by about 0.7%, falling for the second straight day amid a poor trading day of just over HRK 3 million.

The Crobex fell by 0.73% to 1,863 points and the Crobex10 fell by 0.68% to 1,172 points. Both indices dropped for the second day running.

All sector indices dropped too with the construction index falling the most by 5.93%. 

Regular turnover was a mere HRK 3.3 million or 2.2 million less than a day earlier.

Not one stock crossed the million kuna mark.

The highest turnover of HRK 676,000 was generated by the HT telecommunications company with the price of its shares plunging by 1.79% to close at HRK 192.50.

(€1 = HRK 7.6)

For more about business in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

British American Tobacco Stays in Croatia - Say Rovinj, Agriculture Union

ZAGREB, 17 March, 2021 - Representatives of the PPDIV agriculture union on Wednesday met with Rovinj Mayor Marko Paliaga, saying afterwards that the story of the future of the Rovinj Tobacco Factory (TDR) "ended well and British American Tobacco (BAT) stays in Croatia."

Paliaga thanked the unionists for fighting for TDR workers, the City of Rovinj said in a press release.

The Kanfanar-based TDR is owned by British American Tobacco.

The unionists thanked the mayor for the cooperation and support in negotiations with BAT on keeping the plant in Kanfanar, following announcements last year that it might be shut down.

The workers need not fear for their future any longer because TDR is staying in Kanfanar, the press release said.

PPDIV president Denis Paradiš said TDR's staying in Croatia was important for Rovinj, Istria County as well as for the Slavonia region and tobacco growers. "It's important for all of Croatia."

BAT took over TDR from Adris Group in September 2015 for €505 million. Under the contract, BAT was to keep production in Kanfanar for at least five years.

Last year media reported that BAT was considering to leave Croatia due to deteriorated business conditions. In December, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said the government's negotiations with BAT were going well and that he would do everything for BAT to keep production in Istria.

For more about business in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Croatia Receives Second €510m Tranche From SURE

ZAGREB, 16 March, 2021 - The European Commission on Tuesday disbursed €9 billion to seven EU member states, including €510 million to Croatia, in the fifth instalment of financial support to preserve employment during the coronavirus pandemic under the SURE instrument.

This is the second instalment this year. Czechia has received €1 billion, Spain €2.87 billion, Italy €3.87 billion, Lithuania €302 million, Malta €123 million and Slovakia €330 million.

So far, 16 member states have received a total of €62.5 billion under the SURE instrument in loans which the Commission is taking out on financial markets at the best terms.

Croatia received the first instalment of €510 million on 17 November.

For more about business in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts (HOK): "National Recovery and Resilience Plan Should Include Trades"

ZAGREB, 16 March, 2021 - The Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts (HOK) on Tuesday said that the National Recovery and Resilience Plan should include trades and crafts.

HOK said that a survey of 1,722 HOK members indicates a huge interest in EU grants.

Most of them (85%) consider investing in tangible and non-tangible assets to be the most important, notably purchasing equipment and machinery, and upgrading and building new production capacities.

The estimated value of projects that would be submitted by the majority of trades ranges from HRK 150,000 to 750,000, HOK said, adding that trades are willing to invest their own funds too.

HOK in particular noted that more than 73% of trades do not plan to use financial instruments in the coming period.

HOK is investing significant effort in preparing programme documentation for the 2021-2027 EU financial period.

The aim is to raise awareness of the needs of trades and that adequate calls for applications for grants are ensured.

HOK said that the needs of trades should be recognised through the National Recovery and Resilience Plan due to the consequences of the COVID pandemic and the negative economic trends. Hence HOK has sent its recommendations to Prime Minister Andrej Plenković in an effort to find the best possible solution for trades.

For more about business in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 12 March 2021

Zadar: Contracts For Social Entrepreneurship Worth HRK 10 Million Presented

ZAGREB, 12 March, 2021 - Labour Minister Josip Aladrović and deputy director of the National Foundation for Civil Society Development Luka Bogdan presented eight contracts in Zadar on Friday worth nearly HRK 10 million for projects to strengthen the capacities of old and new social enterprises and entrepreneurs.

"Today, we signed contracts with entities that are just starting and that are developing their business in accordance with principles of social entrepreneurship," said Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy Minister Josip Aladrović, noting that the ministry has provided over HRK 112 million to encourage social entrepreneurship.

The pandemic and crisis have created an opportunity for doing some things better and fairer, he said.

I believe that we can find a way in our business to regain a positive social impact. There are four counties among the co-signers: Zadar, Šibenik-Knin, Split-Dalmatia and Lika-Senj counties. All forms of entrepreneurship in these areas are more important than ever before, mostly due to the impact the pandemic has had on the tourism sector and all related activities, Minister Aladrović said, adding that by signing the projects they want to strengthen the capacities of old and new social enterprises through additional employment and education.

Deputy director of the National Foundation for Civil Society Development Luka Bogdan  said that social entrepreneurship was one of the models connecting solidarity and entrepreneurship that could be seen every day, not just in a crisis.

The purpose of the projects is to employ members of vulnerable groups -- women, Croatian war veterans and victims of the Homeland War, people with disabilities and others, and this will include creating new jobs and improving the knowledge and skills of employees through specialised forms of training and employment.

Before presenting the contracts cofinanced by the European Social Fund, Minister Aladrović and his associates had a working meeting with representatives of the City of Zadar on increasing capacities of retirement homes.

According to state secretary Marija Pletikosa, it is estimated that about 5% of the population aged over 65 needs accommodation in a retirement home, and Zadar has not yet reached the capacity to accommodate 3%, so it is necessary to build new retirement homes.

Aladrović said that he supported the idea because increasing the number of accommodation units for the elderly population across Croatia was one the priorities of his ministry.

For more about business in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 12 March 2021

Croatia's February Industrial Consumer Prices Down 0.8% Year-Over-Year

ZAGREB, 12 March, 2021 - Croatia's industrial producer prices fell by 0.8% in February 2021 compared with the same month in 2020, while increasing by 1.4% from January 2021, according to the data from the National Bureau of Statistics (DZS).

The annual downward trend has been present since March 2020 when industrial producer prices dropped by 2.7% compared with March 2019. The 0.8% decrease in February 2021 is the lowest in the last 11 months, while the highest annual decline was recorded in May 2020, of 6.6%.

In February 2021, compared with January 2021, industrial producer prices rose by 1.3% on foreign markets, while compared with February 2020 they declined by 2.1%. On the domestic market, they increased by 1.4% compared with January 2021 and by 0.2% compared with February 2020.

Month on month, prices of energy grew the most, by 5.1%, followed by intermediate goods (+0.7%), capital goods (+0.2%), non-durable consumer goods (+0.1%) and durable consumer goods (+0.1%).

Year on year, industrial producer prices rose by 1.2% for capital goods, by 1.1% for intermediate goods and by 0.4% for durable consumer goods, while decreasing by 4.9% for energy and by 0.3% for non-durable consumer goods.

For more about business in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 11 March 2021

Zagreb Stock Exchange Indices End in Green

ZAGREB, 11 March, 2021 - After a slight drop on Wednesday, the Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) Crobex index rebounded on Thursday, increasing by 0.12% to 1,864.90 points, while the Crobex10 continued its upward movement for the fourth day in a row, closing up 0.25% at 1,166.04 points.

Turnover at the close of the trading session reached HRK 7.3 million, about 2 million less than on Wednesday.

The highest turnover, of HRK 2.25 million, was generated by the stock of the HT telecommunications company. It closed at HRK 192 per share, up 2.13%, its highest price since June 2013 when it closed at slightly over HRK 200 per share.

The only other stock to pass the turnover mark of one million kuna was plastic car parts manufacturer AD Plastik, turning over HRK 1.2 million. It ended the day at HRK 185.50 per share, up 0.27%.

A total of 44 stocks traded today, with 18 of them recording share price increases, eight registering price decreases and 18 stagnating in price.

(€1 = HRK 7.582776)

For more about business in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Nadan Vidošević: "Komerički is Lying That I Asked Him to Launder Money"

ZAGREB, 10 March, 2021 - Former Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) head Nadan Vidošević told the court on Wednesday that he did not participate in fictitious business deals, dismissing as lies claims by Davor Komerički, who turned state's evidence, that Vidošević had asked him to launder money for him.

"The indictment is a cobweb and I know why Komerički gave a false testimony... so that he is freed from criminal charges and to have his company's accounts unblocked. There were no fictitious deals and Komerički is the only witness the prosecution has," Vidošević said at the Zagreb County Court while presenting his defence in a case dubbed Remorker.

Vidošević repeated several times during the presentation of his defence that he and his associates had not caused any damage to the HGK or the Kraš confectionery company, and that they had not siphoned money from them. "There is not one piece of material evidence against me, nor any message or text message that I might have exchanged," he said.

He also said that he had been barraged by some media outlets even before the trial started and that two-thirds of the indictment were based on his property whose value some of the media had exaggerated and which, he said, he had obtained legally.

Vidošević added that during a search of his home, documents referring to his artworks and the construction of his house in Gorski Kotar disappeared, of which he accused the police anti-corruption office PNUSKOK, saying it had made his defence more difficult. He also said that the expert estimate of the value of his property was "grotesque."

Defence presented four years since trial started

Vidošević's defence comes four years after the trial started in the Remorker case in which the former HGK head was accused of siphoning money from the HGK which he had led for years.

Vidošević's long-standing associate Zdenka Peternel was also accused in the case as was Josipa Mladinov, Jasna Mikić and Jadranka Ivčić, who have all pleaded not guilty.

Four other co-defendants pleaded guilty prior to the trial and were convicted after plea-bargaining with the prosecution. They are the key figures in the scandal - Igor Premilovac, who was the first to own up to issuing fictitious invoices via his Czech-based company Remorker and returning laundered money to Croatia for a commission; Davor Komerički, a marketing expert who accused Vidošević of being involved in a chain that was siphoning money from the HGK; real estate agent Vesna Rodić who advised Vidošević, and Jasna Mrakovčić Grubić, who admitted that she had siphoned money from the HGK with Vidošević by faking artwork purchases.

The USKOK anti-corruption office pressed charges against Vidošević and the eight other defendants in July 2015. USKOK proposed that assets equivalent to the HRK 33.4 million that was allegedly siphoned be confiscated from Vidošević.

However, a new expert analysis has shown that Vidošević acquired 26 properties and 444 works of art, worth HRK 22.3 million, legally and that property worth only HRK 9.2 million remains suspicious.

In mid-December 2020, USKOK withdrew its motion to expand the confiscation of Vidošević's assets after it was determined that the discrepancy between his income and expenditure was smaller than the value of the assets he was charged with having illegally gained.

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