Saturday, 28 August 2021

Croatian Sovereignists Launching Campaign for Referendum Against Euro Introduction

ZAGREB, 28 Aug, 2021 - A member of parliament from the Croatian Sovereignists party, Marko Milanović Litre, said on Saturday that his party was launching a campaign for a referendum on the introduction of the euro, criticising the government for ignoring citizens' opinion on the matter.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Croatian National Bank Governor Boris Vujčić and a whole set of Brussels bureaucrats have decided on their own that Croatia should join the euro area, Milanović Litre said in a Facebook post, noting that his party had launched a campaign to protect the national currency, the kuna.

"Referendum is the only way to accomplish that," he said.

Criticising Plenković and his government's attitude to referendum initiatives and what he called disregard for citizens' role in them, Milanović Litre said that that attitude was evidenced by Plenković's recent statement that "from a formal and legal point of view, a referendum on the introduction of the euro was already held in 2012 and a new one is not necessary."

The MP said that ballots for the 2012 referendum on Croatia's accession to the EU, to which Plenković was referring, featured only one question: "Are you in favour of Croatia's accession to the European Union?" and that the referendum campaign made no mention of accession to the euro area.

The Croatian people have the right to state their opinion on all important topics that affect their lives, notably decisions whereby a part of their hard-won sovereignty is ceded to Brussels, said Milanović Litre, adding that Croatia was poorly prepared for EU membership.

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Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Total Household Loans Reach HRK 138,9 Bn in June

ZAGREB, 3 Aug (Hina) - Total household loans in Croatia reached HRK 138.9 billion at the end of June 2021, increasing by HRK 4.2 billion from June 2020, according to the data provided by the Croatian National Bank (HNB).

The annual nominal household loan growth rate was 3.2%, picking up from 2.7% in May 2021, Raiffeisen Bank (RBA) said in its analysis of the central bank's data.

The share of kuna-denominated loans in total loans was 55%, the same as the month before.

Household credit claims increased by 1.9% or HRK 2.7 billion since the start of the year.

The annual household loan growth rate increased from 3.5% to 4%, with the growth of housing loans picking up from 9.7% to 10.1%. 

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

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Thursday, 29 July 2021

Bank Warns of Potential Jeopardy Despite Good Croatian Economic Outlook

July the 29th, 2021 - The Croatian National Bank (CNB/HNB) has warned of potential issues that the domestic economy might yet face despite the currently favourable Croatian economic outlook.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, due to the possibility of a new wave of the coronavirus pandemic and potential lockdowns, there is room for the further growth of property prices above their real value with the risk of a sudden and sharp decline, as well as the growth of bad loans after the abolition of measures and grants. These are just a couple of potential issues which could arise and directly threaten Croatia's still fragile recovery and growth throughout the rest of 2021.

The current Croatian economic outlook is good, and that growth is expected to be between 5 and 7 percent, as most analysts see it, while the most optimistic of all is the CNB itself, which in its baseline scenario expects as much as 6.8 percent of GDP growth this year. Personal consumption, investment, as well as exports are growing, and a massive stimulus from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan is expected.

Of course, all of this mostly depends on the summer season for which tourism workers are now trying to make last for as long as possible and bring at least 70 percent of revenue from pre-pandemic 2019. The success of the 2021 tourist season depends mostly on the (non)materialisation of this first risk, reports Novi list.

CNB Governor Boris Vujcic recently explained that the aforementioned growth is higher than 6 percent (6.8 percent) of the CNB's basic scenario: this is what the CNB expects as the most probable course of events, and it implies that the worst of the crisis is behind us, but dangers remain.

In short, the national bank doesn't expect that the aforementioned risks will materialise, however, there is a danger which remains and the central bank is aware of it. Therefore, if there was a significant deterioration of the epidemiological situation and the fourth wave did arrive, Vujcic said that the Croatian economy would survive another lockdown, but growth, he said, would be slower due to the situation in the most affected sectors.

There are also sectors that work independently and aren't really influenced by the pandemic, and they would still pull in some growth in such a dire scenario. The CNB has now, in a new issue of its publication Macroprudential Diagnostics, enumerated these potential triggers for the creation of a risk and analysed them in detail.

“The great uncertainty and unpredictability of the course of the pandemic poses risks in the coming period, despite the growing proportion of the population being vaccinated. The possibility of a new wave after the summer months is an important risk to take into consideration for the continued recovery of Croatian economic activity.

The possible worsening of the epidemiological situation and the strengthening of epidemiological measures, including localised measures, would adversely affect the speed of recovery and the Croatian economic outlook, as well as the sustainability of public finances,'' the CNB said.

Delaying Croatian economic recovery and premature withdrawal of measures introduced during the pandemic could lead to a deterioration in the debt service capacity of part of the private sector, especially those in which debt levels are high and support measures contribute significantly to maintaining relatively stable incomes. Total exposure to systemic risks during the second quarter of 2021 remain high, according to the CNB.

Further progress in terms of the vaccination of the population, together with the mitigation and eventual abolition of epidemiological measures, should support the continuation of the economic recovery during 2021 and secure a decent Croatian economic outlook going forward.

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Monday, 26 July 2021

Croatian National Bank Answers Important Question About Eurozone Entry

July the 26th, 2021 - The Croatian National Bank has revealed just how long we'll be able to make payments in both Croatian kuna and in euros as the country prepares to join the Eurozone at the beginning of 2023, as is currently planned.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, according to previous announcements, Croatia should enter the Eurozone and as such finally adopt the on January the 1st, 2023, and before the euro officially becomes the country's official currency in replacement of the kuna, many preparations will have to be made.

When it comes to just who will be in charge of the technical realisation of some important things about the introduction of the euro and how the euro will work at the very beginning, the Croatian National Bank confirmed for Net.hr that the new euro coins of the Republic of Croatia will be made at the Croatian Monetary Institute.

"The production of euro circulation coins with the Croatian national symbols will begin at the earliest six months before the day of the introduction of the euro, ie after the EU Council Decision that Croatia will introduce the euro," the Croatian National Bank explained.

With the day of the introduction of the euro as the national currency of the Republic of Croatia approaching, a sufficient amount of euro coins will be prepared for circulation to meet the needs of all people and business entities, the national bank added. What everyone is interested in at the moment, however, is just how long it will be possible to use both kuna and euro in parallel before the kuna is phased out and placed in this history books entirely.

"During the first two weeks from the day of the introduction of the euro, kuna and euros will remain in circulation at the same time, and traders should return the rest of the money to customers which have paid in kuna exclusively in euros," the Croatian National Bank explainsed After that period, the euro will be the only legal tender allowed in the country, they added.

"In order to ensure a smooth transition to the new currency, in a short transition period, the kuna and the euro will have the status of legal tender at the same time. In other words, people will be able to pay in both currencies in the first two weeks starting from the day the euro is introduced in stores. After two weeks from the day of the introduction of the euro, the euro will be the only legal tender in the Republic of Croatia,'' they stated from the Croatian National Bank.

Money, meaning Croatian kuna, can be exchanged for euros free of charge for the first six months of the euro being in use in the country. However, if someone does forget to exchange any kuna cash they have into euros after that deadline, it will still be possible. Namely, in the first six months from the day of the introduction of the euro by the bank, Fina and Hrvatska posta d.d. will allow kuna cash to be exchanged for euros in all branches free of charge, and in the next six months they will be entitled to charge a fee for this service.

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Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Croatian National Bank (HNB) Currency Committee Proposes Five Motifs For Euro Coins

ZAGREB, 21 July, 2021 - The Croatian coat-of-arms, a geographical map of Croatia, the marten (Croatian: kuna), the Glagolitic script and Nikola Tesla are motifs proposed for the Croatian side of euro coins, the Croatian National Bank (HNB) said on Wednesday.

The HNB Currency Committee today defined the final proposal for motifs for the national sides of future Croatian euro coins, which will now be considered by the National Council for the Introduction of the Euro as Official Currency in the Republic of Croatia, and then the government will adopt a conclusion.

The Croatian coat-of-arms will be used as a background on all coins, and other motifs will be used on coins of different denominations so that the 2 euro coin will feature a geographical map of Croatia, the 1 euro coin the marten, the 50, 20 and 10 cents coins Nikola Tesla, and 1, 2 and 5 cents coins the Glagolitic script.

The HNB said the main criteria for the selection was that the motif is acceptable to the general public and that it is a national symbol.

The rating given by citizens via an online survey at euro.hr, in which nearly 50,000 citizens took part, and a structured national survey on a sample of 1,000 citizens also influenced the Committee's final decision.

Based on the selected motifs, the HNB will announce a tender for the design of the national side of the euro coin. In mid October, the HNB will send the design of the motifs to the European Commission and the Council of the European Union, the press release said.

The production of euro coins with the Croatian national side should start at least six months before the introduction of the euro, that is the decision of the Council of the EU that Croatia is introducing the euro.

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Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Croatian National Bank (HNB): 85% of Croats Hold at Least One Payment Card at End Of 2020

ZAGREB, 21 July, 2021 - At the end of 2020, 3.45 million Croatian consumers had at least one payment card, which means that of 4.05 million residents, 85% possessed cards for cashless payment,  according to the data provided by the Croatian National Bank (HNB).

The HNB's publication on cards and card transactions in 2020 shows that as many as 8.78 million such cards were registered at the end of 2020, which was down by 4.5% compared to the end of 2019.

Thus, 85% of the population held at least one payment card, more than 29% held at least two payment cards, and 17% three cards.

 Also, 240,264 payment card holders were business entities.

The HNB says that 4.83 million cards were used during 2020, 3.55 million were unused and 0.55 million were blocked.

As many as 6.92 million cards were debit cards (79%), up 0.41%. The remaining 21% (1.85 million) were credit cards, down by 20.32% compared to the end of 2020.

This decline in the number of credit card was ascribed by the HNB to the business decision of American Express to leave Croatia's market.

The HND data shows that there were 21 credit institutions and two electronic money institutions as payment card issuers in Croatia last year.

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Sunday, 18 July 2021

HNB Governor: Croatia's Q2 GDP Growth Rate Likely to Be About 18%

ZAGREB, 18 July, 2021 - The Croatian National Bank (HNB) Governor, Boris Vujčić, said on Sunday that Croatia's economy would likely reach a growth rate of about 18% in the second quarter of 2021, which was partly due to the low base in the Q2 2020 when the country had experienced a strong downturn.

Vujčić told the press in Dubrovnik where he had formally opened the 27th international economic conference, that Croatia's economic activity for the whole of 2021 would likely rebound at a rate of 6.8%, however, the epidemiological situation caused by the COVID pandemic still created uncertainties.

Vujčić explained that in the worst-case scenario, the GDP could rise by 4.8% in 2021.

The governor underscored a significant role of the government that provided job-retention grants which helped save jobs and made it possible for the recovery to be faster.

The crisis has made the ongoing digitisation processes faster, prompting remote working. I expect a large number of people to go back to work sites. Only after all things go back to normal, we will be provided with the real picture regarding the labour market that has behaved during the pandemic differently than during the big financial crisis in 2009 and 2010. In Croatia, we have already reached the 2019 levels in terms of employment figures and we are now faced with the recurring problem of shortage of skilled workforce, he said.

Commenting on the European Union's Next Generation plan, he said that that would be crucial for the economic recovery in the medium term.

In the next two years, the maximum of available funds will be tapped, and this amount of the funds withdrawn from the EU will have a positive impact on Croatia's GDP, according to his explanation.

The 27th Dubrovnik Economic Conference brought together about 70 experts and researchers from abroad and Croatia as well as representatives of financial institutions, central banks and the financial sector.

Some of the topics on the agenda of the conference are the further strengthening of the role of the state, particularly through the EU Next Generation programme, exchange mechanisms, corporate bankruptcies and so on.

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Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Croatian National Bank (HNB): Current Account Balance Payment Runs €1.26bn Deficit in Q1

ZAGREB, 30 June, 2021 - The current account of the balance of payments ran a deficit of €1.36 billion in the first quarter of 2021, thus narrowing the gap by €23.3 million or 1.7% from the same period of 2020, according to figures the Croatian National Bank (HNB) released on Wednesday.

A surplus on the capital account increased by 20.9% or €45 million in Q1 to €260 million.

As a result, the balance of payments of the current and capital accounts in Q1 generated a deficit of €1.1 billion, which is €100 million less than in the corresponding period in 2020.

"That improvement is exclusively the result of the surplus in the secondary income and capital transaction accounts due to a marked increase in net income from transactions with the EU budget. The favourable trend of absorbing EU budget funds, however, on the most part were annulled by a pronounced deterioration of balance of primary income accounts and, to a lesser extent, by the decreased net export of services," according to HNB analysts.

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Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Total Household Loans Reach HRK 137.5 Bn in April

ZAGREB, 23 June, 2021 - Total household loans in Croatia reached HRK 137.5 billion at the end of April 2021, increasing by HRK 3.6 billion from April 2020, Raiffeisen Bank (RBA) said in its recent analysis of data provided by the Croatian National Bank (HNB).

The annual nominal household loan growth rate was 2.7%, picking up from 1.6% in March 2021.

The share of kuna-denominated loans in total loans was 55%, and the nominal amount of loans was affected by the euro-kuna exchange rate, which was 0.4% lower on an annual level and 0.1% lower on a monthly level.

Compared with December 2020, household credit claims in April 2021 increased by 1% or HRK 1.35 billion as a result of a rise in the nominal value of housing loans and the impact of housing subsidy schemes on them.

Housing loans accounted for 46.4% of total household loans, reaching HRK 63.8 billion, up by 1.61 billion from the end of 2020. The annual growth rate picked up from 8.3% in March to 9% in April.

On the other hand, general-purpose cash loans, despite a slight monthly rise of 0.2% to HRK 52.5 billion, were 1.4% lower than in April 2020, while increasing by 0.5% compared with the end of 2020.

RBA analysts expect that the rise in household loans will continue this year on the back of subsidised housing loans and the need for funding for the reconstruction of housing damaged in last year's earthquakes.

With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and the acceleration of economic activity, there will be an increase in demand for cash loans, but this year it will be more modest than two-digit growth rates seen between mid-2018 and the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, RBA said.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

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Sunday, 20 June 2021

CNB Removes Certain Croatian Banknotes From Circulation

June the 20th, 2021 - Have you checked your jacket pockets and old wallets lately? If you've got any of these Croatian banknotes lying around, you've only got a certain amount of time to get them exchanged as the Croatian National Banks begin removing them from circulation.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian National Bank has so far withdrawn seven series of 5, 10, 50, 100 and 200 kuna banknotes, six of which were issued back in 1993 and one two years later. To date, however, 9.5 million such invalid Croatian banknotes, out of a total of more than three hundred million printed, are still in circulation.

The highest number of invalid banknotes (11 percent) in denominations of five kuna each were issued back in 1993. This banknote is primarily green with the image of Petar Zrinski and Fran Frankopan. The nominal value of this most invalid banknote stands at around 17 million kuna, writes Vecernji list.

The CNB pointed out that 750 of these oldest paper Croatian banknotes have been returned to them over the last year, and they have been exchanged for the same value. In the last year alone, the CNB received a total of 17,706 invalid Croatian banknotes, including 3,923 200 kuna banknotes bearing the image of Stjepan Radic.

In the year dominated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many people seemed entirely unaware that you haven't been able to spend some of these notes for as long as ten years now. The value of the old 200 kuna note in the last year stood at as much as 784,600 kuna. The total value of all returned Croatian banknotes exchanged from May 2020 to the end of May this year was around 1.44 million kuna in total!

A year ago, about 2,800 ten kuna banknotes, 1,707 20 kuna banknotes, a little more than five thousand old 50 kuna banknotes and a little more than three thousand old one hundred kuna banknotes were ''dusted off'' and returned.

The Croatian National Bank will replace all invalid kuna banknotes free of charge and without a time limit to anyone who brings them in person to the CNB box office at 5 Franjo Racki in Zagreb, or sends them in by mail.

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