Saturday, 21 November 2020

Generous EU Package is Historic Chance for Croatian Economy

November the 21st, 2020 - The famous 22 billion euros from Brussels has an additional sum attached to it in the shape of aid for the negative consequences caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and this marks a truly historic chance for the Croatian economy.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Iva Boban Valecic writes, after two months of painstaking negotiations at a summit in the Belgian capital, Plenkovic announced that 22 billion euros will flow into Croatia when the new seven-year EU budget was finally agreed in July.

In addition to this budget, a fund has been agreed from which the financing of the consequences of the coronavirus crisis will be financed. The total value of both documents are eyewatering amounts, but what made this deal be immediately referred to as historic is not the dizzying amount itself, but the fact that massive joint EU borrowing was agreed for the first time.

In the arduous negotiations that preceded this agreement, the frugal quartet, Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden, which were called European misers for opposing joint borrowing, had to be broken.

At the insistence of these countries, the ratio between grants and loans that will be available to EU member states in favour of borrowing has changed, so about half of the total money to overcome the economic, health and other consequences of the coronavirus crisis will be allocated non-refundable funds and half soaked up by borrowing.

Almost 6 billion euros in grants and another 2.35 billion euros in soft loans will be available to Croatia from the new recovery instrument, which is an unpecedented opportunity for the Croatian economy. The good news for Croatia was also brought about by the agreement on this new financial perspective.

Over the next seven years, additional money is planned for less developed regions and rural areas, but also for demographics, which Croatia insisted on during the negotiations. An additional benefit is that the earlier rate of the co-financing of projects from the European budget of 85 percent for less developed regions has survived, although some countries have insisted that it be reduced and the national component raised to 30 percent. According to some calculations, Croatia will therefore save 6 billion kuna over the next seven years.

There is also the famous "N + 3" rule, according to which money can be absorbed three years after the year in which the budget commitments are made, which also goes in the Croatian economy's favour.

The realisation of this agreement, however, is going through difficult trials. The final adoption of the package in the European Parliament is currently being blocked by Hungary and Poland, dissatisfied with the fact that project funding is linked to the rule of law in EU member states.

The realisation of the European budget will probably be delayed because of that, but there is no doubt that an agreement will be reached in the end.

In the meantime, it is important for Croatia to prepare well for the withdrawal of money that should be available to it, because this very generous envelope requires additional effort from the usually ill-prepared domestic administration, which must work on concluding projects from the financial perspective and prepare strategic documents for withdrawing money from the Mechanism for recovery, as well as 12.7 billion euros from the EU budget.

As a first precondition for withdrawing this money, the Croatian Government recently identified a proposal for a National Development Strategy for the next ten years.

The National Recovery Plan, which will enable the withdrawal of money from the Recovery Mechanism, should also be based on this strategy. It should be borne in mind that such plans will also be adopted by other member states, and large and economically developed countries will certainly incorporate the interests of their own producers.

Although agreement at EU level is largely in favour of less developed members, their technological backwardness is a burden, especially given that a high share of green and digital transformation projects will be required from projects in the Recovery Mechanism.

Therefore, as economist Zeljko Lovrincevic recently warned, the Croatian economy is threatened by a scenario in which as much as two thirds of that withdrawn money could flow to the west through technology, and to the east through labour, which is also very much insufficient in Croatia.

The government will therefore have to take care to support the interests of the Croatian economy as much as possible through the National Recovery Plan and the policies that will result from it, because the historic chance that Croatia has through these mechanisms could otherwise turn into yet another historic fiasco.

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Friday, 20 November 2020

Contracts on EU Funds Worth HRK 73 mn Presented to Health Ministry, Zagreb Hospital

ZAGREB, November 20, 2020 - Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Natasa Tramisak on Friday presented contracts on EU funds worth HRK 73 million for new healthcare projects to Zagreb's Dr Fran Mihaljevic Hospital for Infectious Diseases and the Health Ministry.

"The coronavirus pandemic has raised awareness of the need to invest more in the health system, in Croatia and the EU alike. We are therefore using all available money from European structural and investment funds," Tramisak said at the contract-awarding ceremony.

She said the contracts would help the hospital continue boosting its capacity and procuring new equipment as well as the Health Ministry buy the necessary equipment, such as a linear accelerator for the KBC Rebro hospital.

Tramisak said projects worth more than 3 billion kuna had been agreed for the health system, with 2.7 billion being grants.

The latest contracts are valued at more than HRK 73 million, and almost 100% of the contract value are grants.

The minister said that apart from a HRK 369 million contract signed last week for the procurement of protective equipment, her ministry had asked the EU Solidarity Fund for an additional €39 million if the procurement of additional equipment should prove to be necessary.

The contract for the Health Ministry is worth HRK 23.7 million and will be entirely financed with EU funds.

The contract for the Dr Fran Mihaljevic hospital is worth HRK 50 million, and EU grants amount to HRK 49.6 million. The funding will help adapt part of the hospital infrastructure and almost half of the funds will be used to buy valuable diagnostic equipment, the hospital's director, Alemka Markotic, said.

Monday, 16 November 2020

Zadar to Get Better Drainage System Through EBRD Loan and EU Funds

ZAGREB, November 16, 2020 - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has approved a €4.5 million loan for the completion of a capital drainage system project in Zadar, in addition to €42 million approved from the EU Cohesion Fund for the Zadar utility company, EBRD said on Monday.

The EBRD loan will be used for the reconstruction and expansion of Zadar's drainage system.

The project involves the construction and reconstruction of more than 100 kilometres of pipelines and collectors, 17 pump stations and increasing the current rate of 75% of households connected to drainage to 95%. The Odvodnja utility company manages wastewater collection and treatment for about 80,000 residents in the Zadar area.

This capital investment will significantly impact the quality of life for local residents and will enable the sustainable development of Zadar and neighbouring municipalities, which prior to the coronavirus pandemic recorded more than 1.4 million tourist arrivals a year, head of EBRD operations in Croatia, Victoria Zinchuk, said.

Mayor Branko Dukic said that Zadar was "faced with an extensive construction project, including the reconstruction of the water supply system, which will lead to significant savings of water as well as enabling the construction of all streets where the new pipelines will be laid... The project will resolve the problem of rainwater in the Bokanjac area and enable connecting 95% of Zadar's households to the public drainage system," said Dukic.

Odvodnja director Grgo Peronja said that the new system will help protect the sea and coastland from pollution.

EBRD recalled that the first projects in Croatia financed by EBRD were agreed in 1994 and since then EBRD has invested more than €3.9 billion in 219 various projects, particularly in infrastructure, entrepreneurship, financial institutions and energy.

Monday, 2 November 2020

Zdravko Maric Highlights EU Funds as Key to Croatian Recovery

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Jadranka Dozan writes on the 1st of November, 2020, in an environment dominated by the unpredictable course of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it's very difficult to predict and plan, so even with the state budget proposal for next year adopted yesterday, the Government session strongly pointed out that it reflects only the basic scenario. Do EU funds provide the answer to Croatian recovery?

The government has more or less remained on the trail of macroeconomic assumptions from the September Budget Guidelines, based on the epidemiological picture from the end of August, which has meanwhile deteriorated globally. However, the assumptions in the budgeting reflect the expectation of a return to last year's level of economic activity at the end of 2022.

After this year's 8 percent drop in GDP, a growth rate of 5 percent is expected in 2021, and then Croatian recovery and economic growth of 3.4 percent and 3.1 percent over the next two years, respectively. The biggest contribution to growth next year should come from the recovery of exports of goods and services (primarily tourism), which, like this year's decline, should be in the double digits.

However, as imports are expected to grow at the same time, the contribution of net exports to Croatia's enfeebled GDP growth will ultimately be lower than what is expected from personal consumption. Household spending is expected to rise 4.5 percent next year after falling 6.3 percent this year, according to government expectations.

When it comes to investing, the expectations are somewhat more modest; after an estimate of the decline for this year, the expectation for 2021 is growth of less than four percent.

The total budget revenues for 2021 are planned at 147.3 billion kuna or 12.3 percent more than the new plan for this year. When compared to last year, it's been eventually reduced by almost nine billion, as a result of 12 billion kuna less revenue from taxes and contributions, but with a simultaneous increase in revenues owing to very welcome EU assistance.

On the other hand, total expenditures from all sources are planned for less than 158 billion kuna next year, which is an increase of two billion or 1.3 percent more than the rebalanced plan for 2020.

However, Minister Zdravko Maric emphasised that expenditures financed from sources that affect the deficit (from general revenues and receipts) are planned at 118.4 billion, which is 3.6 billion kuna less than the new plan for 2020.

Unlike this year, when 5.4 billion of payments under coronavirus measures 5.4 were financed from sources that affect the deficit, according to the plan for next year, 2.1 billion kuna under these measures are planned to be financed from EU funds (React EU), and from sources that affect the deficit - only 100 million.

Katanciceva also calculated that, when the impact of the government's coronavirus measures is excluded from the expenditures, total expenditures financed from general revenues and receipts of the general government budget will increase by 1.7 billion kuna or 1.5 percent next year.

''The further deepening of the coronavirus crisis represents a great risk that is currently difficult to assess, and it would have a negative impact on budget revenues as well as on the needs of the economy for additional measures,'' pointed out the Minister of Finance, Zdravko Maric.

In the planning of the state budget, Maric explained that the goal remains the sustainability of public finances, with the control of expenditures and continued tax relief. In terms of Croatian recovery, European Union funds are generally gaining in importance.

In addition to the EU budget in the coming years, these funds which will greatly aid Croatian recovery as a whole include a combination of grants and loans from the recovery fund under the EU Next Generation instrument, and in the Croatian case there are significant funds from the Solidarity Fund for Post-Earthquake Reconstruction available.

Croatia will thus have a total of 23.5 billion euros or about 176.3 billion kuna available for strategic, development and reform projects at its disposal, while it can count on 5.1 billion kuna from the Solidarity Fund for the reconstruction of earthquake-damaged areas.

The baseline scenario of macroeconomic and budgetary developments should also result in a return of the level of public debt and deficit to a downward trajectory.

When it comes to budget expenditures that affect the fiscal balance, the largest increases next year (compared to the rebalanced plan for this) are expected as a result of tax relief in income tax, the effect of which is estimated at two billion kuna.

Therefore, the budget envisages 1.5 billion kuna more in the name of compensation to local and regional self-government units.

Expenditures for employees (including education) are planned to increase by almost half a billion (493 billion kuna) next year, with these expenditures being increased by approximately the same amount as part of this year's rebalance. A little less than 435 million kuna increase refers to participations for EU aid.

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Sunday, 18 October 2020

Croatia to Send its EU Funding Priorities to EC by End of June

ZAGREB, October 18, 2020  - Croatia will send by the end of June its list of priority areas for funding from the 2021-2027 funds to Brussels, Regional Development Minister Natasa Tramisak told Hina.

Next week, Commissioner for Cohesion Elisa Ferreira will meet with Minister Tramisak, and the European Commission (EC) will request that Croatia urgently send its list of priority areas for funding from the 2021-2027 funds.

The EC thinks that none of the 27 member states will adopt and send its plan by the end of March, and Croatia says it will send it by the end of June.

"Everything depends on the process of adopting the regulatory framework at the EU level. The negotiation process on the legislative framework, which regulates the use of 2021-2027 funds, has not yet been finished at the EU level," Tramisak said.

The European Commission wants to know what kind of projects Croatia wants to finance with the money from the joint budget in the next seven-year period. Until Croatia sends the document to Brussels, it will not be able to access €9.3 billion allocated to it.

With the cohesion policy, the EU aims to reduce disparities between rich and poor parts of the 27-country bloc.

In the 2014-2020 period, Croatia has contracted projects, the biggest of which is the construction of Peljesac bridge, absorbing the entire amount of €10.7 billion allocated for it in the EU budget. The projects can be realised by 2023, and to date about 36% has been paid out to users in Croatia.

In March 2019, the EC published a report saying that Croatia and other countris should as of 2021 use the funds to finance projects for digitalisation, green economy, connectivity, social affairs and getting closer to citizens. In September 2019, it held a meeting in Brussels with the then Regional Development Minister Marko Pavic, but a partnership agreement was not signed.

The partnership agreement would define Croatia's investment priorities.

Croatia still has time to presents its plan of priorities, said EC spokesperson for cohesion policy Vivian Loonela.

We are aware of the fact that Croatia faced difficult circumstances in 2020: the coronavirus pandemic, the presidency of the Council of the EU, mostly during a lockdown, the earthquake in Zagreb and parliamentary elections in July, she added.

Minister Tramisak did not say what Croatia's funding priorities would be, but she said that they would follow European priorities.

Croatia joined the EU in July 2013, and as the newest member was able to use funds during the entire seven-year period, from January 1, 2014 to the end of 2020. The partnership agreement for that period was concluded only on December 16, 2014.

In this phase (until January 1), there is no reason to speak of delay, Loonela said. In case there is a delay, and that European legislation and national programmes are not adopted by January 1, 2021, member states will be able to finance approved projects themselves, and will receive money from the EU budget later, she said.

Friday, 16 October 2020

Istria Seeks Financing of 58 Public Projects Worth 1.8 Billion Kuna

As Novac/Barbara Ban writes on the 15th of October, 2020, Istria is requesting that 58 of its public projects worth 1.8 billion kuna in total be included in the list of countries for funding from the European Fund for Recovery and Resilience.

These are projects that are already under implementation, as well as projects that have been prepared and which need sources of funding. There is a bit of everything among these public projects - from building schools, to arranging the Pula breakwater, homes for the elderly and infirm, to investing in the Pula General Hospital and the Martin Horvat Special Hospital in Rovinj, the digitalisation of public administration,  thereconstruction of the county building and things regarding Pula's city administration.

''These are projects that we applied for after the selection of as many as 350 different projects. We started with the selection of projects on August the 20th, in cooperation with Istrian towns and municipalities. Some are already in their implementation phase. I believe that the Government will recognise our projects and include them in its programme,'' said Istria County Prefect Fabrizio Radin. By the way, the county itself was the one to propose 27 projects worth 1.1 billion kuna.

These are, for example, the digitalisation of public administration that would be carried out together with Istrian cities, the construction of the Medical School in Pula, the reconstruction and extension of the E. Kumicic Vocational School in Rovinj and the extension and reconstruction of the Svetvincenat Elementary School. Also important is the project of the reconstruction of the building of the Infectious Disease Department of the Pula General Hospital and the preparation of space for the reception of COVID-19 positive patients, the renovation of radiological diagnostics with digitisation in Istrian health centres, the adaptation of the building of the Pula General Hospital to create accommodation for doctors, and the adaptation of the Special Hospital OiR "Martin Horvat" Rovinj with the aim of improving energy efficiency.

There is also a programme to encourage the development of entrepreneurship in the wider Istria County, as well as projects of the Port Authorities of Pula, Porec, Rovinj and Umag-Novigrad.

Along with the above, the City of Pula is asking for the most money for public projects listed in Istria - 213 million kuna.

''We can say that Istria is the locomotive of Croatia, and that the progress of Istria benefits the entire country. Istria is already at the forefront when it comes to digitalisation. We were among the first to introduce e-adminstration, enable the coverage of our area with an internet signal via Wi-Fi hot spots and through broadband infrastructure. We're constantly encouraging the development of start-ups by providing them with space and financial conditions for work, introducing e-schools for teaching, and expanding the number of public services that can be paid for contactlessly, online, etc.

However, our goal is to carry out comprehensive digital transformation, and the aim of that is to make people's lives better and simpler. The first step is to digitalise our administration to the end, to reduce bureaucracy and paperwork to a minimum, to make services fast and accessible, and to raise the transparency of work to an even higher level,'' concluded Pula Mayor Boris Miletic when discussing Istria's planned public projects.

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Thursday, 17 September 2020

Tramisak: Croatia in Top Five on EU Funds Absorption

ZAGREB, Sept 17, 2020 - By September 15, Croatia has agreed €10.98 billion worth of projects from the European structural and investment funds, or 102.4% of the allocation, according to data from the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds.

of the total of €10.7 billion allocated for Croatia in the European structural and investment funds for the 2014-2020 period, Croatia has agreed on €10.98 billion worth of projects or 102.4% of the allocation.

The Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds said that the government on Thursday adopted a report on the absorption of European structural and investment funds, which was presented by Minister Natasa Tramisak.

A total of €4.35 billion (HRK 33.08 billion) has been paid out, or 40.6% of the allocation and €3.7 billion (HRK 27.86 billion) has been verified, or slightly more than a third (34.2%) of the allocation.

The Ministry reports to the government on EU funding absorption on a weekly basis, and figures indicate that the amount of funding agreed since the previous report has increased by 1.6%, the amount paid out has risen by 0.69 percentage points, while the number of verified funds remained the same.

The operational programme Competitiveness and Cohesion, which has the largest allocation of €6.83 billion (HRK 51.92 billion), has the highest percentage of funds agreed, of 110.8% of the total allocation, while the Rural Development Programme has the highest percentage of funds paid out, of 59%, the Ministry said.

From 2013 to 31 August 2020 the difference between funds paid from the EU budget into the Croatian budget and funds paid from the Croatian budget into the EU budget was HRK 28.6 billion in favour of the Croatian budget, Tramisak said.

She noted that the rate of absorption of European structural and investment funds had increased from 9% to 102%, or to €11 billion. "That's the fifth-best result in the European Union", the minister underlined.

Broken down by funds, the Cohesion Fund has an absorption rate of 145%, which ranks Croatia second among the EU member states, she added.

Tramisak said that €9.07 billion had been agreed for cohesion policy in the financial perspective 2021-2027. "That is about 17% of the Croatian GDP, which is the highest percentage across the EU," she said.

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Sunday, 6 September 2020

Poljud Celebrates 41 Years, 100 Million Kuna Renovation Project in Works

September 6, 2020 - Poljud celebrates 41 years. Retired professor Ante Mihanovic from the Faculty of Civil Engineering, Architecture and Geodesy in Split spoke about the condition of the stadium after so many years, how it could look in a new guise, and how long the renovation works could last.

Slobodna Dalmacija writes Poljud stadium, the work of architect Boris Magas, is celebrating its 41st birthday. 

Even as a young engineer and associate of the chief constructor, engineer Bozenko Jelic, Mihanovic participated in the design of the stadium until the main project stage. Then, after construction, he led the monitoring of that demanding construction for more than two decades. A few years ago, also as part of the team of the Faculty in Split, he was one of the reviewers of the stadium renovation project developed by the IGH Institute.

To begin with, he spoke about the reasons why the Faculty carefully monitored the construction of Poljud for more than 20 years:

"A year after its construction, vibrations were noticed in high parts of the auditorium. We found that these are millimeter shifts on the large console, which are insignificant. But they created an uncomfortable feeling, because people are used to vertical vibrations, and not really to horizontal ones.

Also, it was the first time that the company "Mero" had produced a structure that is curved over 200 meters.

"That construction was something new in Europe. As an architectural work, it was met with a lot of praise in the world and it is the only building structure from the former Yugoslavia that has entered the literature of universities in Western Europe. The only!" points out the interlocutor, who is an associate member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, a regular member of the Croatian Academy of Technical Sciences, was the dean and vice dean of the Faculty of Split for 12 years and is still active at the age of 71.

Mihanovic continues that there was a 10-year warranty period for the quality of performance.

"Initially, we removed the cracks on the main supports that were expected and the contractor agreed to repair them. So, the stadium was monitored, but not maintained," he notes.

"There are norms in the profession that the City, as the owner of the sports facility, did not respect. Namely, the stadium was supposed to be maintained after the age of 10, considering the steel construction, which means that it is protected against corrosion, dust is removed from it, and to see how the installations, screws and everything else work. Upstairs you also have KIC cabins and trails. Steel structures are generally inspected in detail every five years, and I would say that renovation should be done every 10 years. This has not been done so far."

A few years ago, an initiative was launched from the City to start the renovation, which would replace everything that has not been done for these 40 years.

"It has been warned countless times that a renovation is needed, because the more difficult it is, the more expensive the intervention will be. It has now reached the amount of 100 million kuna, which is a considerable amount. The recent decision to declare the stadium a cultural monument, because it is - a top architectural and construction work, allows you to apply for European funds for rehabilitation."

The IGH Institute won the tender for the preparation of the rehabilitation project, and professors Bernardin Peros and Ante Mihanovic from the Faculty of Split were reviewers.

"We reviewed the entire project on which about 30 experts from the Institute and their associates worked. It has been accepted and is located in the City and in Hajduk, and is on its way to being applied for EU funds. With the realization of this complete project, the stadium will be brought to a state that would be very close to the state after construction."

With one hundred million kuna...

"We will change the lexan cover and metal substructures, use anticorrosive to protect all metal roof structures and remove defects, restore and finally repaint all concrete structures, which will be refreshed in appearance. Then there are interventions on electrical and mechanical installations, and on the fire protection system. The stated estimated amount does not include the interior design of landscaping and lawns."

At one time, the installation of solar panels was mentioned as an idea.

"Solar panels are out of the question because this would change the shape of the roof, and it should be in the same shape as the original. The Belgian factory, which produces lexan boards, has informed those working on the renovation project that they have preserved the molds and are likely to make more favorable offers to make new boards. To this factory, as well as to the company "Mero" from Germany, Poljud stadium was a reference for future business, and they follow everything that happens around," said Mihanovic, who adds:

"The steel substructure is in the worst condition, to which the cover is attached with screws. Due to the substructure, the entire cover must be removed.

It seems that in the construction itself, the substructure was perfectly solved. However, there was a hurry with the construction, the stadium was built in less than two years, so it was not possible to wait for someone else to deliver it.

Also, the structures were partially damaged in the shooting during the war, as JNA soldiers from Lore practiced shooting in some parts of the stadium. There is also damage by the nature of things - zinc and anti-corrosion protection is not preserved everywhere and will have to be partially restored and of course, there will be painting."

Of that 100 million kuna, 40 million kuna are for metal parts - the roof and everything next to it, and 60 million for the concrete structure.

"You have damage and patches on the concrete structure. All damage should be removed, compensated for where the reinforcement is missing, restored and repainted. So all the spectator supporter beams will be renewed. Then you have bridges, tunnels, retaining walls - they all need to be inspected and rebuilt. The bridge on the promenade above Hajduk's premises is in the worst condition because the drainage was not good there and water was retained on it."

The renovation project is complete, says Mihanovic, and, in his opinion, very well made.

The city of Split must act within a certain deadline.

"In my opinion, the renovation should be carried out within 10 years, because after that there will be low reliability of the elements that are overhead, and there will be a risk of someone getting hurt. Also, the longer you wait, the more you will have to invest in renovation. So the sooner you start, the cheaper it will be."

The rehabilitation, he adds, will take several years.

"Objectively, you will not have a hundred teams to attack at once. For example, if you started painting 12,000 rods of steel construction with a group of a dozen people, you would do so for so long that when they get to the other end, you would have to start all over again, provided you renew the paint every five years."

He continues that the stadium will not need to be closed for renovation works.

"Removing the cover and substructure can be done in the period when no matches are held at the stadium. When the renovation of the stands is done, work will be done on one part, and the other part will be used. Therefore, playing matches and partially filling the audience will always be allowed."

Mihanovic says that the stadium is still secure as it stands now.

"But it is simply a thing that ages, weakens day by day, and one day it must be repaired. You can leave it like that for another 20 years, but then it's not certain that some of those lexans won't fly from above."

The documentation is prepared to apply for European funds. 

"The application for funds will last at least from a year to a year and a half, followed by a public procurement for the selection of contractors. So, the renovation could start in two years at the earliest. The Poljud beauty will return to its original state, perhaps even better. The value of the stadium is 150 million euro. That is how much it would cost to make a new one. The renovation will cost only 10 percent of that amount. According to that, the building is in relatively good condition.

The designers were obliged to give it a shelf life of 50 years. It is without intervention in the structural parts, but with earlier maintenance. You can't let the construction go, you have to start maintaining it at some point."

The immediate work is numerical modeling, calculations and design of building structures.

"We worked on the calculation and design of the Poljud structure, partly on our own program, and something on the American STRESS, which was installed on "Srca" - University Computing Center in Zagreb," said Mihanovic.

So, what does Hajduk say?

"Project documentation has been prepared, and the City and Hajduk will apply for funding from EU funds from 2021 to 2027. We’re sending out funding applications in September, and we’ll know the results early next year, and maybe sooner. The roof renovation project is worth 102 million kuna, and the museum 44 million," said Marin Brbic, president of Hajduk.

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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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Friday, 3 July 2020

High-Speed Internet Access for Lika as Valuable Project for Region Approved

Lika is set to get a cash injection worth almost 100 million kuna which will see it have the proper access to a high-speed Internet network, which is something Croatia's ''green heart'' has been lacking.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 3rd of July, 2020, Gospić, Otočac and the much loved and heavily frequented Plitvice Lakes have had important funds approved for them for the implementation of the Broadband Internet Infrastructure Development Project which is worth almost one hundred million kuna in total.

Gospić, as the project holder, along with the City of Otočac and the Municipality of Plitvice Lakes which is participating in the project, was approved financial resources in the maximum amount of 75 million kuna for the implementation of the Broadband Internet Infrastructure Development Project for Gospić (PRŠI), a project which is worth 98 million as a whole.

With the implementation of this extremely important project for this region of Croatia, every picturesque little village and hamlet in these areas of Lika will have the proper access to a high-speed Internet network.

This is very important news for the growing tourism sector in Lika, which has recently been being discovered by foreign tourists more and more, because the poor Internet network was what guests often complained about, and the implementation of high-speed broadband access will greatly contribute to improving the quality of Lika's economic development in general.

The project, which started back in July 2017, includes the implementation of the next generation fixed broadband access network (NGA) with a speed of 100 Mbit/s in all settlements of Gospić, Otočac and the Plitvice Lakes area where high-speed broadband access services are currently not available. More specifically, this refers to areas where operators otherwise don't plan to invest in next-generation fixed broadband access networks over the next three years.

This is one of the most financially valuable European Union-funded projects in the Gospić to take place, and Gospić is the first area in Lika-Senj County to actually start implementing the project.

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