Monday, 31 January 2022

Minister Announces New Call for Applications for Subsidised Housing Loans

ZAGREB, 31 January, 2022 - Construction Minister Darko Horvat on Monday announced a new round of applications for subsidised housing loans, noting that this year HRK 50 million would be spent for that purpose and that a public call for banks to submit their offers would be published in mid-February while loan requests would be submitted as of 21 March.

A call for citizens to apply for subsidised housing loans could be published in mid-March, Horvat said.

Since the relevant legislation is aimed at encouraging demographic revival, urban regeneration and reducing the number of young families emigrating from the country, the call will be open until the subsidies are spent, Horvat said in a post on his ministry's website.

The ministry plans to invite, on 16 February, a call for interested credit institutions to submit their offers regarding interest rates, as the first step towards publishing a new call for applications by citizens.

The ministry expects to publish a call for applications for subsidised housing loans on 9 March, when citizens will be able to start submitting their loan applications to banks.

On 21 March, banks are expected to submit, on behalf of their clients, requests for subsidies to Croatia Real Estate Agency (APN).

The ministry recalls that 22,169 requests for subsidised housing loans were granted between 2017, when the scheme was introduced, and March 2021.

In the families that use housing loan subsidies, more than 4,600 children have been born since 2017 and 13,130 children under 18 have been reported in the loan requests.

More than HRK 456.7 million has been invested in state-subsidised housing loans so far.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Volume of Construction Work Grows For 14th Straight Month Y-O-Y

ZAGREB, 21 Sept, 2021 - The volume of construction work in July 2021 was 6.5% higher than in July 2020, however it fell by 4.9% compared to June 2021, the State Bureau of Statistics (DZS) reported on Tuesday.

July was the 14th month in a row for the volume of construction work to increase on the year.

DZS data indicate that the volume of construction work done on buildings in July was 5.3% higher y-o-y whereas the volume of other structures increased by 8.1%.

Compared to June the volume of construction work contracted by 6.2% on buildings and by 3% on other structures.

In July, 61% of working hours on construction sites were conducted on new structures while 39% were for reconstruction, repairs and maintenance.

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

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Agreement Reached Between Govt, Unions and Protesting Orljava Workers

ZAGREB, 30 June, 2021 - An agreement was reached on Wednesday between two trade unions, workers of the Požega-based Orljava company and the government on three monthly wages in arrears to be paid and on efforts to be made to find a new strategic partner for this clothes company.

Construction and State Assets Minister Darko Horvat received the workers after they held a protest rally outside Government House on Wednesday, demanding talks with the government's representatives.

After the meeting Horvat said that there was no need for the protest to have been held because the government had already taken certain steps in reference to the fate of the Orljava company.

"The government is not running from its obligations. Workers will get their three outstanding salaries in accordance with the law. I promised them that they would get their pay in the next 10 days," Horvat told reporters in Government House.

Horvat: We insist on finding a strategic partner for Orljava

He said that the government is not  thinking of liquidating the company but is insisting on finding a strategic partner. We think that there is no other way out. We have launched very intensive talks with Hemco from Đakovo, he said.

Hemco is specialised inn manufacturing protective clothes.

"At the moment, all the conditions that the government has set for Hemco have not been met for it to take over Orljava, until we negotiate the final details as there is still one small uncertainty," said Horvat.

He announced that a hearing has been set for Friday when Orljava will be assigned with a trustee.

Union leader Tomislav Kiš said that they found common ground with the government and established common stances, objectives and wishes.

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


Sunday, 17 January 2021

Horvat: State Will Fully Finance Post-Quake Reconstruction in Assisted Areas

ZAGREB, 17 January, 2021 - The state will fully finance the reconstruction or construction of buildings in assisted areas affected by the earthquake, Construction Minister Darko Horvat said on Sunday, adding that whether citizens would cover 20% of the costs would depend on their income threshold.

Horvat told the press a bill on post-quake reconstruction said that Sisak-Moslavina County would co-finance 20% of those costs. If the county will not be able to pay that amount, the state will do so, he added.

As for buildings and houses that have been demolished and will not be reconstructed, the state will fully finance the construction of new ones, he said.

On Thursday, the government sent to parliament a bill of amendments to the law on the reconstruction of buildings in the City of Zagreb and Krapina-Zagorje and Zagreb counties damaged in a March 2020 earthquake, proposing that the law also apply to Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac counties, which were struck by a devastating quake in December.

Under the bill, those counties will set aside 20% in their budgets for reconstruction, as will property owners. In assisted areas where a state of disaster was declared, the entire cost will be covered by the state, in line with a special regulation.

A property owner is exempt from covering 20% of the reconstruction costs if their household income in the previous and the current year does not exceed the non-taxable income amount, if they had no other assets on 22 March 2020 whose value exceeded HRK 200,000, and if they receive welfare benefits.

Horvat said the bill was clear and that it included the income threshold, so pensioners and people out of work need not fear.

He said that in assisted areas where a state of disaster was declared, the government would fully cover the construction of new homes.

Everything in the bill also applies to the City of Sisak, Horvat said, commenting on Mayor Kristina Ikić Baniček's statement yesterday that "Sisak will be reconstructed under the same model as Zagreb" which, she added, her city could not afford.

Horvat said that under the bill, Sisak would not have to pay anything for the reconstruction, adding that 80% of the reconstruction amount had already been ensured without the city paying anything.

He said the residents of Sisak who had a second or third property outside the city "whose value exceeds certain amounts" would have to pay for 20% of any reconstruction costs.

"The government has not nor will it leave anyone in the lurch," Horvat said, adding that the state would fully cover a replacement home for all people whose homes have been demolished and which will not be livable.

Friday, 15 January 2021

Minister Says HRK 12 bn Secured for Post-Earthquake Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 15 January, 2021 - Construction Minister Darko Horvat said on Thursday that around HRK 12 billion had been secured through the EU Solidarity Fund, World Bank loans and the state budget for the reconstruction of areas hit by last year's earthquakes.

Speaking in an interview with the HTV public broadcaster, Horvat said that clear rules on how to organise reconstruction would be published in the Official Gazette within a month from the earthquake that hit Sisak-Moslavina County on 29 December.

He added that the government still did not have a complete financial framework for reconstruction but that so far HRK 12 billion (€1.6 billion) had been secured.

"Some sources are known and some we are still trying to secure. Around HRK 12 billion has been secured - through the Solidarity Fund, World Bank loans, the budget. As part of the National Recovery Plan we will also seek.... grants as well as loans," the minister said.

The Croatian government earlier on Thursday formulated amendments to the Act on Post-Earthquake Reconstruction, originally intended for the City of Zagreb and Zagreb and Krapina-Zagorje counties, hit by a 5.2 magnitude quake on 22 March 2020, to make the law refer also to the post-earthquake reconstruction of Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac counties.

The reconstruction of buildings destroyed in the 29 December earthquake in Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac counties will be fully financed by the state.

Bosnian Croats to finance reconstruction of one institution, houses

Leaders of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina said on Thursday they would finance the reconstruction of one state institution as well as build family houses in the quake-hit areas of Croatia.

This was agreed at a meeting in Mostar between the leader of the HDZ BiH party, Dragan Čović, and local officials from a number of towns and municipalities in the neighbouring country and visiting Croatian state secretaries Zvonko Milas and Nikola Mažar.

Solidarna foundation raises HRK 8.4 mn for quake-hit area

The Zagreb-based Solidarna foundation earlier this week reported that it had raised more than HRK 8.4 million (€1.12 million) for Sisak-Moslavina County.

Some of the donations paid into the foundation's 5.5 Fund have already been used to buy consumables for people affected by the earthquake and the foundation also plans to participate in the long-term reconstruction and recovery of the quake-hit county.

The 5.5 Fund was established by the Zagreb Earthquake Relief civic initiative and the Solidarna foundation after the 22 March 2020 earthquake in Zagreb. At the time, the foundation raised HRK 1.5 million for earthquake victims. It reactivated its fund after the earthquake in Sisak-Moslavina County and its fund-raising campaign is still underway.

Monday, 4 January 2021

Construction Minister: Prefab Homes as Lasting Solution in Quake-Hit Area

ZAGREB, 4 January, 2021 - Physical Planning and Construction Minister Darko Horvat said on Monday some houses destroyed in last week's earthquake would be permanently replaced with prefabricated homes, and that those responsible for the collapse of houses built after the 1990s war would be held to account.

Asked by the press if the reconstruction of Sisak-Moslavina County would be incorporated into the law on the post-earthquake reconstruction of Zagreb, Horvat said a decree to that effect was being finalised and that the government would address it on Thursday.

The decree will make it possible for the Zagreb reconstruction law to apply to Karlovac and Sisak-Moslavina counties, and also to submit applications and define decisions on those entitled to reconstruction without losing any time, he added.

"Most importantly, it will enable regulating the payment of temporary accommodation for those who will be entitled to it."

Asked when the reconstruction of houses would begin, Horvat said some documents were commissioned today, including data on how buildings react during an earthquake.

He announced for tomorrow a meeting with Croatian manufacturers who could participate in making prefab homes as a lasting solution in the area struck by a magnitude 6.2 tremor last Tuesday.

Experts from the faculties of civil engineering, geodesy and architecture have to make a project so that replacement homes can be commissioned, Horvat said, adding that regardless of dimensions, all must have the same earthquake-resistant foundation.

He said everything must be ready as soon as possible for construction to begin, adding that part of his ministry would be relocated to Sisak or Petrinja.

Horvat said the decree the government would adopt on Thursday would make it possible to include Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac counties in the contracting of works for the reconstruction of schools, hospitals and other public buildings.

Asked to comment on the dissatisfaction of the mayors of Petrinja and Sisak with the distribution of HRK 120 million worth of emergency aid, he said the money was allocated after the first damage estimates.

He said almost 700 structural engineers were currently on the ground and that the next amounts would be distributed based on more detailed damage estimates.

Horvat dismissed "any suspicion" that the damage was estimated "with partisan or political connotations. "The damage was estimated on the ground by the only people who can do it."

As for assistance from international institutions and the EU, he said applications for money from the European Solidarity Fund should be prepared in the next 12 weeks, after the total damage was estimated.

In the meantime, he added, the government has managed to communicate that the 5.1 billion received after the Zagreb quake may be utilised to deal with the damage in Sisak-Moslavina County.

Investigations into poorly rebuilt houses

Asked if anyone would be held to account for the fact that the earthquake demolished houses in Sisak-Moslavina County which were rebuilt after the war, Horvat said there would be investigations after talks were held with all those responsible from that time.

He said the central state office for reconstruction had reliable data and that it was pointless to accuse anyone "until we are 100% sure of what happened and who the stakeholders were."

Friday, 6 November 2020

Minister Says Organised Post-Earthquake Reconstruction to Start in Early Spring

ZAGREB, November 6, 2020 - Construction Minister Darko Horvat said on Friday that the organised post-earthquake reconstruction of Zagreb and Krapina-Zagorje and Zagreb counties would start in early spring and that EU funds for that purpose should be paid already around December 1.

"A certain number of projects are nearing completion and we will start with them. I am optimistic that organised reconstruction will start already in early spring," Horvat said after a meeting of an expert group in charge of EU reconstruction grants.

The minister said that requests for the payment of close to HRK 80 million worth of finished reconstruction work had arrived, adding that of around 130 facilities in the education system requiring reconstruction, 119 had been repaired.

Horvat dismissed as insinuation claims that one was stalling with reconstruction and that nothing was being done in that regard.

The Fund for the Reconstruction of the City of Zagreb, Krapina-Zagorje and Zagreb Counties has been formally registered today, Horvat said, noting that the fund will primarily be in charge of the process of reconstruction of privately-owned houses and apartment buildings.

He said that more than HRK 250 million had been secured from the state budget for the Fund's work and that at the moment there was sufficient funding for organised reconstruction in Zagreb and the two counties in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

The rest of the European money will arrive when the triage is completed and when the European Commission, European Parliament and European Council reach agreement, Horvat said, noting that this could happen around December 1.

18-month deadline to justify money spent

Once the EC pays the entire amount for reconstruction work, totalling €683.7 million, an 18-month deadline starts running during which the amount spent will have to be justified, he said.

The deadline for the establishment of a mechanism to supervise how the money is spent is November 15, Horvat said, adding that a decision on the matter would be ready by the government session next Thursday, when implementation bodies in the competent ministries would be determined.

After the government session, the relevant documents will be sent to Brussels and information on their verification or necessary correction will arrive soon, meaning that a formal decision will arrive by December 1, after which payments will be made into the state budget. The finance minister will then distribute the HRK 5.1 billion for reconstruction work among government departments, said Horvat.

At a recent session the government approved the establishment of the Fund for the Reconstruction of the City of Zagreb and Krapina-Zagorje and Zagreb Counties, appointing Damir Vandjelic its temporary director.

PM Andrej Plenkovic said that the signing of the agreement on the Fund's establishment marked the formal beginning of reconstruction work in Zagreb following the March 22 earthquake.