Wednesday, 19 October 2022

Health Minister Vili Beros: Covid Cost Croatia Almost 6 Billion Kuna

October 19, 2022 - Health minister Vili Beros said that the current epidemiological situation in Croatia is relatively stable and stated that the total cost of the coronavirus epidemic is close to six billion kuna.

As Index writes, while reporting to the parliament on the measures taken by Croatia against the covid-19 epidemic from January 1 to August 31, 2022, Beros pointed out that for the sixteenth day in a row, we have recorded a decrease in the number of newly infected people per day. The drop is significant and perhaps unexpected because the school year has already started, said Beroš, but he also warned that the epidemic is still around us and we must be careful.

He added that the majority of hospitalised patients are still completely unvaccinated citizens or vaccinated only with the primary vaccine, which indicates the need to increase the vaccination rate of citizens. He also presented the information that the Croatian Institute for Health Insurance paid almost six billion kuna from compulsory health insurance funds from the beginning of the epidemic until August 31.

"Although it is a large figure in financial terms, it is important to see that it cannot be considered a cost but an investment in the health and treatment of our citizens, which ultimately affects the performance of other sectors such as tourism and the economy," said the minister.

State Secretary Marija Bubas referred to the problematic statements in the media about vaccination, which certain opposition parties support. "Protests by various interest groups with their destructive messages have not caused any political damage to the government, but they are certainly causing damage to our citizens, who are still weighing out if they want to get vaccinated," she said.

To the opposition's criticism that Croatia has failed in the fight against the epidemic with regard to the mortality rate, Beros replied that statistics should take into account the demographic picture of the population, comorbidity, and the percentage of vaccinated people, which is still insufficient. The representatives were also interested in how many vaccines were ordered, how many were used, and how much it all cost.

9.7 million doses were acquired, 5.3 million doses were used, 4.4 million doses were unused, of which 1.1 million were donated, and 426 thousand doses were destroyed having had expired, the minister stated. Vaccination against the coronavirus will become lifelong, that is, constant, and it is necessary to keep buying new doses, said Beros. He did not provide an answer about how much it cost, pointing out that the vaccine saves lives and that the price is not important in that context. "The government will pay for everything necessary to provide Croatian citizens with adequate medical care, including the vaccine, so I won't tell you how much it costs; someone else will answer. We don't pay for it from the system; it is procured through joint procurement by the European Commission," he said. 

The slogan should be changed from "get vaccinated, save others" to "get vaccinated, save the supplies," proposed Zvane Brumnic (Social Democrats). Beros also rejected Miro Bulj's (Most) claims that the Ministry of Health hides public purchases of medical equipment and vaccines like a snake its legs. "Everything is public and transparent, but there are elements such as the contract of the European Commission that do not allow us to communicate the price of the vaccine," he said.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Friday, 15 July 2022

Sabor: Marko Primorac Confirmed as New Finance Minister

ZAGREB, 15 July 2022 - The Sabor on Friday confirmed Marko Primorac as the new Minister of Finance with 77 votes in favour and 55 against, after former minister Zdravko Marić left the government at his own request.

After Minister Primorac swore that he would conduct his duties conscientiously and honourably, in accordance with the Constitution and laws, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković wished him success in his demanding and responsible work.

Primorac is an associate professor at the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb. He studies public finances, local finances, the tax system and public debt management.

He has worked with the Ministry of Finance on a number of task forces in different rounds of tax reforms, as well as on the model of a financing system for local and regional self-government units.

From 2018 to 2020, he served as economic advisor to former president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.

Since 2016, he has been a member of the Steering Committee of the Croatian Pension Insurance Institute. From 2017 to 2018, he was the deputy chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Hrvatska Elektroprivreda electricity provider and since 2018 he has been the deputy chairman of the Audit Board of the Hrvatske Lutrije national lottery.

Since 2021, he has been an external member of the parliamentary Finance and Central Budget Committee.

Prior to today's vote in the Sabor, Primorac's appointment was supported yesterday by the parliamentary Finance and Central Budget Committee after being interviewed by the committee.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 12 July 2022

Croatian Parliament Speaker Receives Montenegrin PM

ZAGREB, 12 July 2022 - Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković on Tuesday received the visiting Montenegrin Prime Minister, Dritan Abazović, the Sabor said in a press release.

The two officials reaffirmed very good relations between their countries, based on mutual respect and constructive cooperation, notably within NATO.

They highlighted the importance of further integration of southeastern European countries in the European Union membership.

The repercussions of Russia's aggression against Ukraine were also on the agenda of the Jandroković-Abazović meeting.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

PM: New Finance Minister Will Gain Good Reputation Just Like Marić

ZAGREB, 6 July 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Wednesday thanked Zdravko Marić for the contribution he made as Minister of Finance, saying that he "has done a great job" and said that the new minister, Marko Primorac, is also excellent and will gain a good reputation with his work, just like Marić.

Addressing a press conference held in Government House after a meeting of the ruling majority, the prime minister said that he has a very good relationship with Marić and that they had a long discussion about his leaving the government.

Every government member supposed to want to work 300 percent

"I am guided by only one principle, anyone who wants to be a member of the government has to want to work 300 percent. He (Marić) worked brilliantly for 6.5 years and obviously the time has come when he decided to do something else for his own reasons. I respect that," said Plenković and underscored that he appreciates Marić's contribution.

Everything that is important for our economic and fiscal policy in the future, will be done with Marko Primorac, Davor Filipović, Marin Piletić and other government members, he added, referring to two new ministers and Primorac whose candidacy is to be confirmed by the parliament,

Plenković would not reveal where Marić is going and added that Marić had told the HDZ leadership, the cabinet and the ruling coalition that he still does not have a clear picture of what and where he will work in the future.

"When he is ready to say something more about that he will do so," the prime minister added.

Plenković underscored that "no one can work in the government for a hundred years" and everyone has an expiry date.

"We have new ministers. We are replacing young ones with even younger, equally good and smart ones. You will get used to them, as will the public, and we will continue to function," he told reporters.

Given the very good reputation that Marić enjoys in the professional and general public, reporters asked how long it would take for the future minister to "adjust," with Plenković saying that the state has to function, and Primorac will gain an equal reputation with his work.

"You will see that Primorac is great, smart, eloquent. He understands the matter and will adapt quickly. He knows people in the ministry. Just like Zdravko gained his reputation for his work Marko Primorac will too," said Plenković.

Asked if he was personally affected by Marić's resignation or whether he experienced it as disloyalty, Plenković said "No. We have been through so much." He underscored how they achieved common goals, entry into the euro area, upgrade of Croatia's credit rating, exiting the macroeconomic imbalance mechanism and so on.

Primorac to also be non-partisan minister

Primorac, like Marić, will be a non-party member of the government and Plenković underlined that he had received the unanimous support of HDZ party bodies.

Asked whether there wasn't anyone in the HDZ who could fill that position, he said there was but that he wanted "someone who will be the right person at the right time."

There are others and this man is ready to be engaged as much as possible. We are just waiting for him to recover from COVID, he added, saying that Primorac will be as good as Marić because that is the "condition for him to be a minister."

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

Following News of FinMin's Resignation, Opposition Says Time for New Elections

ZAGREB, 6 July 2022  - The news of Finance Minister Zdravko Marić's unexpected resignation on Tuesday was followed by the first reactions of opposition politicians who in their comments told Prime Minister Andrej Plenković that the time was ripe for new parliamentary elections.

Social Democratic Party (SDP) political secretary Mirela Ahmetović said in a Twitter post that "the last time Marić resigned, his boss fled the country and the company folded," a reference to former Agrokor company owner Ivica Todorić.

When the most popular minister leaves, that means the government has fallen and Plenković just does not want to admit it. Enough of this agony, let's go to elections, Ahmetović said.

Bridge party vice-president Nikola Grmoja said in a Facebook post that "the first officer of Plenković's Titanic, holed by corruption, scandals and inflation, is fleeing."

If health reasons are not the reason, and I hope they are not, there are only two options - either he has found himself under investigation - he was involved in many scandals which, admittedly, left him unscathed - or he is leaving the government aware of the kind of economic Armaggedon that is about to hit us, Grmoja said, calling for new elections.

The head of the parliamentary committee on European affairs, Domagoj Hajduković of the Social Democrats, also commented on Marić's decision.

"I wonder if 'personal reasons' have to do with the implementation of euro introduction about which I have been warning for some time. True, we got a positive decision, but someone must also implement it, and we are very irresponsible in that regard," Hajduković said.

Other comments by opposition politicians were announced for Wednesday.

Also, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković will inform the inner cabinet and parliamentary majority of Marić's decision and introduce Marko Primorac as the candidate for his successor. Primorac's nomination will be discussed by the parliament as early as next week.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 2 July 2022

Jandroković: Numbers Show Osijek, County, Slavonia Growing

ZAGREB, 2 July 2022 - Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković met in Osijek on Saturday with city and county officials and said the numbers showed that after years of stagnation, Osijek, Osijek-Baranja County and the Slavonia region were growing and making progress.

He met with Osijek-Baranja County head Ivan Anušić, Osijek Mayor Ivan Radić and Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Nataša Tramišak.

Speaking to the press afterwards, he said Slavonia and Baranja-County for many years were seen in a negative light due to political instability, emigration and economic stagnation.

Now, he added, a lot of money from the state budget and EU funds is coming here and the effects on the quality of life are visible.

Money is being invested in infrastructure and logistics projects as well in agriculture, the economy and science, Jandroković said, adding that today's meeting also discussed sports development, the IT sector in Osijek, and the further strengthening of the cooperation between the state and local levels.

When there is political stability and the city and the county function, that cooperation is much stronger, he said.

As a member of the EU and soon-to-be member of the euro and Schengen areas, Croatia is significantly changing its position, which impacts counties and region, he added.

Tramišak said HRK 7.6 billion was being invested in economic, municipal, health and school projects.

Croatia's east has proven that it can be more progressive in terms of the economy and development and to attract people to live there, she said, adding that the programming process had ended and a partnership agreement was sent to the European Commission yesterday for approval.

This means new funds and opportunities for enterprise and much higher aid for those who want to start a business here, Tramišak said.

Prefect Anušić said that under parliament's recent change of statistical regions, Osijek-Baranja County was now part of the Pannonian Region and that this facilitated development and EU fund absorption.

Mayor Ivan Radić said Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's visit yesterday and Jandroković's today showed how much attention was being paid to eastern Croatia.

We have very good tourism results as well as good economic and demographic indicators, he added.

Tonight, Jandroković will open the 22nd Osijek Summer of Culture.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 20 June 2022

Parliamentary Delegation Pays Tribute to Stjepan Radić, June Victims

ZAGREB, 20 June 2022 - A parliamentary delegation on Monday laid wreaths and lit candles at Zagreb's central Mirogoj cemetery to commemorate the 1928 killing of two Croatian deputies and the fatal wounding of Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) founder Stjepan Radić in the parliament of the then Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.

The Croatian parliament in 2015 proclaimed Stjepan Radić and the June Victims Memorial Day in tribute to HSS founder and MP Stjepan Radić and Croatian MPs Pavle Radić, Đuro Basariček, Ivan Pernar and Ivan Granđa.

Pavle Radić and Đuro Basariček were killed in the parliament of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes on 20 June 1928 by Serbian Radical Party politician Puniša Račić while HSS founder Stjepan Radić was fatally wounded in the attack and died several weeks later. MPs Ivan Granđa and Ivan Pernar were wounded.

Parliament Deputy Speaker Željko Reiner, who headed the parliamentary delegation, said today they were paying tribute to the Croatian greats.

"Stjepan Radić brought together a large number of those who... opposed the Great Serbian hegemony in the then Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Belgrade's anti-Croat policies," said Reiner.

Radić is doubtlessly one of the great historical figures on Croatia's long, difficult and bloody journey to freedom, Reiner said, adding that Radić, just like Ante Starčević and Eugen Kvaternik, had dreamed of what was achieved by Croatia's first president Franjo Tuđman and Croatian defenders - a free, independent and democratic Croatia.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 27 May 2022

2022 Revised Budget Adopted

ZAGREB, 27 May 2022 - The parliament on Friday passed by a majority vote a revised budget for 2022, whereby the expenditure side will increase by HRK 10.9 billion to HRK 184.7 billion and the revenues will go up by 6.6 billion to HRK 171 billion.

As a result, this year's budget deficit will widen from the initial projections of 2.6% of the GDP to the deficit-to-GDP ratio of 2.8%.

Most of the rejigged budget outlays refer to the health system, in the amount of HRK 4 billion, of which the largest share will be used to cover hospitals' and pharmacies' debt to suppliers.

The opposition MPs who voted against the budget revision criticized the proposal as bad.

In mid-may, the Fiscal Policy Commission said that it believed that the proposed 2022 budget revision was appropriate to the current circumstances however, this independent body underscores that it is necessary for Croatia to absorb more EU funds to fund investments and schemes to boost productivity and implement cost-cutting reforms.

In a press release released on 17 May, the commission underscored the need to implement reforms to limit expenditure for healthcare, pensions, and unemployment benefits.

Also today, the parliament passed a law on the registry of persons with disabilities.

The legislation on investment stimulation was today endorsed, providing for some additional benefits for users of state subsidies for investments in the event when their projects are affected by extraordinary circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

(€1 = HRK 7.529160)

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 26 May 2022

Jandroković Reassures Ukrainian Official of Croatia's Continuing Support

ZAGREB, 26 May 2022 - Croatia supports Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and will continue providing Kyiv with humanitarian, political, and technical assistance, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said on Thursday in Zagreb at a meeting with a deputy chair of the Verkhovna Rada, Olena Kondratiuk.

The Ukrainian deputy parliament speaker thanked Croatia for the support it has extended so far to her country, including the reception of several thousand refugees.

A press release issued by the Sabor quotes Jandroković as saying that he conveyed Croatians' strong solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

Croatia, which itself was a victim of military aggression in the 1990s, can understand the grave situation that Ukrainian defenders and people are now experiencing, reads the press release.

Kondratiuk informed Jandroković of the current military and humanitarian state of affairs in Ukraine and notified him of Ukraine's efforts to be granted EU candidate status.

In this context, she thanked Croatia for its support to Ukraine's European aspirations and also for assistance in mine clearance and in the rehabilitation and treatment of wounded war veterans and for offering its experience in the peaceful reintegration of occupied areas and post-war reconstruction.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 16 May 2022

Hina Notifies Parliament, HND of Pressure Exerted by Bridge MP On Its Reporter

ZAGREB, 16 May 2022 - Hina's director-general Branka Gabriela Vojvodić on Monday notified the national parliament and the Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) of pressure exerted by Marija Selak Raspudić, a parliamentary deputy of the Bridge party, on a Hina reporter in the parliament's press room recently.

During the incident, which was provoked by the dissatisfaction of the opposition Bridge party with a news item that Hina published last Friday on the motions sponsored by the Opposition which were not supported by the ruling majority,  Bridge parliamentarian Nikola Grmoja was first to enter the press room and criticized Hina's journalists, finding fault with their work and how they covered the activities of his colleague, Marija Selak Raspudić.

After that, MP Selak Raspudić entered the press room and accused in an inappropriate manner Hina and its reporter of having intentionally censored her and abused her.

The parliamentary deputy was also dissatisfied that Hina did not make it clear in its reports every time she was first to open discussions in the parliament.

"Having in mind the fact that Hina reporters covering the activities in the national parliament and in other state institutions are not there to quote in the entirety all that is said by any of politicians and office-holders and that their duty is primarily to inform the public of what they find the most important, I consider that the behavior of parliamentary deputy Selak Raspudić amounts to the violation of the right to free reporting by journalists," says Vojvodić.

She calls on the HND as the professional association, and the parliament as the institution where the incident took place, to condemn the behavior of MP Selak Raspudić in this case and any similar potential behavior of politicians towards Hina reporters and reporters of other media outlets.

For more, check out our politics section.

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