Thursday, 18 March 2021

Minister Tomislav Ćorić Visits Recycling Yard Worth HRK 3 Million in Novi Marof

ZAGREB, 17 March, 2021 - A recycling yard worth HRK 3 million and co-financed by EU funds has been constructed in Novi Marof, and during his visit on Wednesday, Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić said that the northwestern part of Croatia has progressed more than other parts of the country in terms of waste management.

The recycling yard in Novi Marof was co-financed from the Cohesion Fund in the amount of more than HRK 2.5 million, while the entire project is worth over HRK 3 million.

Novi Marof Mayor Siniša Jenkač underscored that the recycling yard was a continuation of the policy of efficient and responsible waste management in that northern Croatian city.

"In addition, the remediation of our landfill Čret is currently in its final phase, and it cost a total of HRK 17.5 million, including 30 years of monitoring," he said, adding that they had also procured waste sorting containers.

The remediation of the Čret landfill was co-financed with HRK 13.3 million of EU funds.

According to Jenkač, when it comes to total financing with European money, about HRK 40 million has been invested in waste management in the area of Novi Marof.

(€1 = HRK 7.6)

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Monday, 7 December 2020

Small Business Owners Demand Urgent Reforms

ZAGREB, Dec 7, 2020 - The Voice of Entrepreneurs association laid a wreath outside the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development on Monday, calling for "urgent and brave" reforms and the replacement of Minister Tomislav Coric.

Cars and buses briefly blocked the traffic in the street in front of the Ministry as protesters lit lanterns and laid wreaths and flowers at the entrance to "pay their last respects" to small and medium-sized businesses hit by the partial lockdown imposed as part of government efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

They once again appealed to the prime minister to fire "the worst economy minister Croatia has ever had." They drew attention to the "intolerable absence of concrete aid and compensation" for all businesses experiencing a sharp decline in their activity. 

The association's head Hrvoje Bujas said that Croatia had lacked key reforms over the last 30 years. "It is high time we organised ourselves to ensure the implementation of key reforms. It is also high time that the reforms become the key topic for every economy minister and for every minister in the Croatian government, including the prime minister," he said.

Bujas said that Croatian small business owners were leaving the country in search of better business conditions abroad. He stressed the need for a better functioning judiciary, optimisation and digitalisation of public and local government, lowering VAT and scrapping various parafiscal charges.

The association's executive director Drazen Orescanin said that they had good dialogue with some of the ministries and state institutions, but not with the Economy Ministry. He complained that Minister Coric was not communicating with them at all.

Orescanin said that the present government should represent all people and not just voters of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party. If the party cannot find an appropriate person to serve as Economy Minister, there are many competent experts for this post who are not members of any party, he added.

At the end of the protest, two police officers approached Bujas and Orescanin and took down their details as well as the registration numbers of the vehicles that blocked the entrance to the Ministry building.

"We'll see what the police will do. We won't be surprised if we get fined," Orescanin told Hina, adding that this was not a protest rally but a gathering because protest rallies were not allowed in the present time of the pandemic. He noted that about 20 members of the Voice of Entrepreneurs and partner associations were present, which is in line with the epidemiological measures, while the rest were representatives of the media. They all wore face masks and did not violate any measures, he stressed.

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Economy Minister: Advertisement for JANAF CEO Position to be Published Soon

ZAGREB, September 22, 2020 - Economy Minister Tomislav Coric said on Tuesday that the advertisement for the position of the CEO of state-run oil pipeline operator JANAF would be published as soon as possible, after the current executive Dragan Kovacevic was remanded in custody on corruption charges.

"Concerning the provisions of the JANAF statute, it is necessary to appoint an acting director until the appointment of the new one through a public competition," the minister explained.

He said that this would be done as soon as possible.

Asked by the press whether he had visited Dragan Kovacevic's club, Coric said that he had known Kovacevic since 2013.

Coric explained that he had "made his acquaintance first of all due to economic topics."

Coric, who had served as the energy minister in the previous cabinet, said that considering the fact that his department covered JANAF, he had met Kovacevic on several occasions and visited the club.

Media outlets have reported that "the club" in downtown Zagreb refers to private premises owned by Kovacevic's private company and used by state officials and business people to socialise.

Coric said that he had met Kovacevic a few weeks ago.

The scandal involving Kovacevic, as well as the owner of the private Elektrocentar company, two mayors and a few more suspects broke out last week. Twelve of the 13 suspects in this influence peddling and public tender probe have been placed in custody.

Kovacevic is suspected of having received kickbacks from the main suspect, the owner of Elektrocentar, Kreso Petek.


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Monday, 7 September 2020

Economy Minister for Boosting Industries Besides Tourism

ZAGREB, September 7, 2020 - Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Tomislav Coric said on Sunday the government would insist on boosting other industries besides tourism and that Croatia would enter 2021 with projects ready for a €22 billion EU envelope.

In the first phase of the crisis, he told public TV, the government projected that GDP would fall a little over 9%, with HRK 35-40 billion in damage to the economy, but the tourist season has been better than expected so the government hopes the GDP fall will be lower.

"Job retention measures will cover a little less than 100,000 workers. After the summer season, there has been a decrease in the number of those employed for years, and the same is expected this year," Coric said but added that the decrease would not be catastrophic as some claimed. "We guarantee it, just as that we will retain most jobs."

Tourism's big GDP share makes Croatia vulnerable in terms of the economy and responses to shocks such as COVID-19, he said.

That is why, he said, the government will insist on boosting other industries while encouraging the development of tourism, first and foremost by extending the season. "But the accent will be on production activities because it's the segment in which Croatia has been suffering for years."

The intention is to absorb as much money as possible to raise the competitiveness of domestic production and exporters, "primarily the technical level, which opens a long term development perspective as part of the European Green Deal," the minister said.

We are a small, open economy and the €22 billion envelope will suffice to help our production sector, he said. "That's why I insists that production is in the focus of all our programmes, both the recovery and resilience packages as well as the 2021-2027 multiannual financial perspective."

Asked how much European funds could help and when Croatia could expect them, Coric said the government had a plan and that the intention was for as much as possible of the envelope to be channeled towards the economy.

The details are still unknown but, in communication with Brussels and between ministries, we are discussing the projects which should be up front, he said.

"Croatia will certainly enter 2021 with projects ready. What awaits us in 2021, after this challenging year 2020, is economic recovery. We must do our best for this recovery to cause higher GDP growth rates in the long term," Coric said, adding that investing in production was the right avenue.


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Friday, 4 September 2020

EconMin: As Much EU Funds as Possible Should be Channelled to Economy and Private Sector

ZAGREB, September 4, 2020 - Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Coric said on Friday that he would try to steer as much funds from the EU aid package of €22 billion intended for Croatia as possible to the economy and private sector.

Coric was addressing participants at the Croatian Money Market conference in Opatija.

He said that he had heard from representatives of the real sector in which direction they thought Croatia's recovery should be going.

"We all share a certain dose of optimism about what is to come. The question of distribution of European funds from the EU envelopes of the 2021-2027 operational programme and from the recovery and resilience programme, will be a key issue. The ministry and government intend to direct the majority of those funds towards the economy," Coric said.

He added that it is necessary to improve the domestic economy's competitiveness and productivity in a number of industries, digitise the economy and improve the trade balance by reducing the deficit and boosting GDP growth.

Asked by reporters how much of the €22 billion was available to the private sector, Coric said that that has not been defined yet because neither of the two envelopes had been fully defined at the European level.

"We will probably have to wait for a few months for the answer to that question. Recovery plans need to be officially submitted to the European Commission by April next year and the major part of the funds will be based on that," he said and added: "It is important that already now we allocate as much money as possible to the private sector. There is no alternative. We have to be as strong as possible so that we can return to the pre-crisis level," said Coric.

Responding to reporters' questions, Coric said that the public debt would not explode and that a brilliant job had been done with regard to settling solvency and the government's liabilities for 2020.


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Wednesday, 26 August 2020

INA's Layoffs Decision Is Business Decision, Says Minister

ZAGREB, Aug 26, 2020 - Economy Minister Tomislav Coric said on Wednesday INA's decision to lay off 250 workers was a business decision, and that INA recently submitted a proposal to the Strategic Projects Commission to declare the Sisak biorefinery a strategic project.

Asked by the press to comment on the announcement that 250 INA workers would lose their jobs, Coric said there was no satisfaction if people lost their jobs at the end of a process of transformation, but that INA's business decisions of several years ago were going in that direction.

"The thing that we can express satisfaction about, is that the workers are leaving with relatively favorable severance packages."

The oil company said earlier this week that, given the circumstances of operating during a pandemic, the INA Group began organizational changes and that the restructuring would cover a maximum of 250 workers. This news has caused great concern in the town of Sisak and the Sisak refinery, whose workers have warned that the layoffs would halve the refinery's staff.

Asked about the layoffs, Coric said the company's direction was its decision and that the global oil business was in trouble because of the coronavirus and other circumstances.

He said he was pleased that INA's proposal to declare the biorefinery in Sisak a strategic project, was recently submitted to the Strategic Projects Commission.

We are pleased about that because I think that the direction which INA is taking in fact - a sustainable, green direction - is the right one, Coric added.

INA council to discuss Lazard's final report soon

The minister said the government received Lazard's final report on INA. The company is the government's advisor on the possible buy-back of MOL's stake in INA.

He added, however, that the make-up of the council on negotiations with MOL on the possible purchase changed last week. "In the weeks ahead, that report will be presented to the council members and then we will go a step further."

Asked if the political decision to buy back the stake was still on, Coric said the government decided to do that in 2016 and that the decision was confirmed in the HDZ's platform for this year's parliamentary election.

"We will try to enter into talks with the other side, present our offer and try and restore Croatia's ownership of INA."

A member of the press remarked that consultants said the buyback was not worth it. Coric said that he did not have that information.

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Sunday, 23 August 2020

Gov't Job-Keeping Aid To Be Paid by End of August

ZAGREB, Aug 23, 2020 - Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Tomislav Coric said on Saturday that the government's job-keeping aid would be paid to enterprises and small businesses by the end of August, after entrepreneurs complained that most of the funds had not been paid.

"The funds for June and July will be paid by the end of this month. I talked today to my colleague (Labour Minister Josip) Aladrovic, and he confirmed this to me," Coric told the RTL broadcaster.

Earlier in the day, the Voice of Entrepreneurs association warned that entrepreneurs and small businesses had not received job-keeping support for July and some even for June.

Coric said the reason for the delay was a somewhat more complex procedure compared to the first half of the year.

As for employers' announcements that Croatia was in for a wave of layoffs, Coric said that jobs in Croatia "have been defended much better than in most European countries."

He added that the government would continue supporting economic sectors that would continue experiencing problems, which, he said, would depend on the intensity of the economic crisis.


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Saturday, 23 May 2020

Economy Minister Says Gov't To Propose That Croatia Has 14 Trading Sundays

ZAGREB, May 23, 2020 - Economy Minister Darko Horvat has said that following analysis on the profitability of open shops on Sunday, the government will propose that 14 Sundays in a year will be working days and employers will choose on which 14 Sundays they will open their shops.

This proposal of 14 Sundays in a year when shops can be open is the result of an analysis which has been conducted for more than two years and also of a high amount of consensus reached with social partners and the segments of the public interested in this matter, said Minister Horvat in the northern city of Cakovec on Saturday.

Also, the position of the chambers of commerce and trades as well as a great number of members of the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) is that they agree that 14 Sundays are profitable, while working on other Sundays is not profitable, he added.

The pertaining changes of the relevant legislation on trading will be put for public consultation. as soon as epidemiologists give a green-light and rescind their ban on trading Sundays, imposed for health safety reasons.

Asked by the press how all that could be regulated during tourist seasons, Minister Horvat said that the trade sector in the regions where tourism is the main business activity also considered that working on 14 Sundays brought a profit.

He said that being aware of the fact that trading on Fridays, Saturdays and on Mondays each, made up 16% of the total volume of trading, while trading Sunday contributed with 8% to that volume, then there is "a clear economic connotation" why Sunday should be non-trading.

In addition, the last three months have shown that trading on Fridays, Saturday, and Mondays can offset the non-working Sundays, Horvat said, refuting claims that the latest proposal was made for the sake of campaigning before the July 5 parliamentary elections.

 As for the criticism made by Social Democrat leader Davor Bernardic that Prime Minister and HDZ leader Andrej Plenkovic was indecisive whether to have working or non-working Sundays, Horvat replied that he had not heard any constructive proposal from Bernardic.

Responding to Bernadic's claims that a vote for HDZ is a vote for corruption, Horvat said that many more members and officials from the ranks of the SDP were convicted of corruption.

He went on to say that in the last three years, this government had stabilized public finances, increased the ability of the Croatian economy to produce added value, boosted exports and made a budget surplus, which proved that this government could control well the budgetary money and invest it where it was most needed.

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