Friday, 9 April 2021

Gov't Rep Accepts Amendments By HDZ Party Group to Local Elections Bill

ZAGREB, 9 April (Hina) - A government representative on Friday accepted amendments by the ruling HDZ party group to a bill on local elections which ease previously proposed stricter rules for the nomination of candidates in elections and reasons for the termination of a local official's term.

A regulation has been eased under which a person with a final court verdict sentencing them to a prison term of at least six months or whose verdict has been changed to community service and a conditional verdict will be banned from running in elections, starting already with the May 16 local election.

The HDZ parliamentary group proposed that the ban should not apply to persons sentenced to prison for an unintentional crime, if their sentence has been changed to community service or a conditional sentence.

Also accepted were amendments that relax reasons for the termination of the term of a member of a representative body, municipal head, mayor and county head and their deputies.

If those officials have committed an unintentional crime and have been sentenced to prison but their sentence has been changed to community service or a conditional sentence, the terms of those officials will not cease, government representative Sanjin Rukavina said.

He did not accept Social Democrat MP Arsen Bauk's amendment under which those officials' terms would end also in case the party which has nominated them and on whose slates they have been elected has been given a final court verdict for an offence.

The government partially accepted amendments by the SDP, GLAS and Centre party groups under which the term of a member of a representative body, municipal head, mayor and county head stops on the day when they deregister their residence in their local government unit.

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

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Parliament Discusses Candidates for Public Ombudsman

ZAGREB, 10 March, 2021 - The Croatian parliament on Wednesday discussed a proposal by the Committee on the Constitution, Standing Orders and Political System to nominate attorney and judge Sandra Hančić and Deputy Public Ombudswoman Tena Šimonović Einwalter for the post of Public Ombudsman.

Several opposition party groups expressed dissatisfaction that Public Ombudswoman Lora Vidović's reports for 2018 and 2019 had still not been discussed.

Nino Raspudić of the Bridge party warned about what he called a huge increase in the budget of the ombudswoman's office, saying it had doubled since 2008, as well as about an increase in the number of staff.

He proposed reducing the term of the public ombudsman from eight to five years and that the official should be elected by a two-thirds majority in the parliament.

That way one would not elect a para-political person, said Raspudić, adding that outgoing Public Ombudswoman Lora Vidović had not dealt with issues she should have dealt with and that she made her views clear when she opposed the 2013 referendum on marriage as a union of man and woman.

Dalija Orešković (Centar, GLAS) warned about growing social inequality and what she described as the shameful treatment of the office of public ombudswoman, whose reports for 2018 and 2019 had still not been discussed by the parliament. The Public Ombudswoman has protected public interest and not the interests of the HDZ, Orešković said, accusing the ruling party of destroying the country and causing its people to emigrate.

She dismissed Raspudić's claim that Vidović was a para-political figure.

The declining number of applications for the post shows that candidates do not see any prospects there, she said.

Ružica Vukovac of the Homeland Movement warned that MPs were only given short biographies of the candidates, who were not presented in the parliament.

Vesna Nađ (SDP) said that her party preferred Šimonović Einwalter, noting that it was not good that the public ombudswoman's reports for 2018 and 2019 had not been discussed.

Damir Habijan of the HDZ said the office of the public ombudsman was undoubtedly important and that the candidates had answered all questions put to them by two parliamentary committees.

The public ombudsman is expected to advocate and protect the rights and freedoms defined by the Constitution and international treaties, and the HDZ will make a decision on which candidate to support when the vote is taken, he said.

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

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Croatian Parliament (Sabor): About 75 kg of Food thrown Out in Croatia Annually Per Head

ZAGREB, 4 March, 2021 - About 75 kilograms of food is thrown out each year in Croatia per head, lawmakers underlined on Thursday during a debate on an agriculture bill which among other things regulates the prevention of waste food.

"Food waste has reached a value of 20% of the total amount of food produced in Europe and on the global level losses amount to one-third of all the food produced, while in Croatia we throw out 75 kilograms of food each year per head," said MP Marijana Petir of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) caucus.

The agriculture bill, she said, would be the basis for documents that will regulate more clearly activities regarding food donations and preventing food waste, but also a system of quality food production.

The EU foresees reducing food waste by 50% by 2030 and we too have to achieve that aim, Petir underscored. "Any reduction of throwing out food means less pressure on farmland and reduced consumption of water, pesticides, and fertiliser."

MP Marija Selak Raspudić (Bridge) said that a quality system of food donations is important given the increasing poverty, but added that the bill does not provide a clear plan and that the most important thing would be to establish a food bank.

Anka Mrak Taritaš (GLAS) too underlined the need for a food bank so that surplus food can be distributed at the national level.

State Secretary in the Agriculture Ministry Tugomir Majdak said that the amount of donated food in 2019 had increased by 30% compared to 2018 and amounted to 1.5 million tonnes.

With regard to reducing food waste, Majdak explained that a guide has been prepared for food donations, a feasibility study for a food bank has been prepared, and tax reliefs on food donations have been defined.

The amendments to the law will align it with EU regulations regarding the prevention of food waste.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

GLAS: "People Again Do Not Know Whether Medicines They Need Will Be Available or Not"

ZAGREB, 3 March, 2021 - The Civic Liberal Alliance (GLAS) party said on Wednesday Health Minister Vili Beroš and the government have once again put people in a situation where they do not know whether the medicines they need will be available or not, and the hospitals will again have to pay millions in court and debt enforcement costs.

"Debts for the goods delivered are not being repaid for more than 365 days, which is six times longer than allowed by law, and have now reached HRK 6 million. Even more tragically, the drug wholesalers must pay their dues to the state - taxes and contributions - in time," the party said in a statement.

Commenting on this situation, Minister Beroš, as usual, denied the amount of the debt and shifted the blame onto the citizens, claiming that they were not paying enough while using health services too much, GLAS said.

It recalled that the citizens contribute HRK 30 billion to the healthcare system annually, with the insurance policy holder with an average monthly wage paying HRK 1,600 monthly towards health insurance. For that money the citizens have the right to expect at least the minimum health service and they certainly do not need anyone to criticise them for contributing too little, the party said.

GLAS called on the health minister to thoroughly analyse the healthcare system and present the structure of costs to the public to see where the vast sums of money were going.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

H1 Donations to Bridge, GLAS, Human Shield, New Left Range from HRK 70k to 19k

ZAGREB, July 14, 2020 - The Bridge party received nearly 70,000 kuna in donations in the first half of 2020, according to the reports on political parties' donations.

This parliamentary opposition party received exactly HRK 68,500 from 108 donors. The four highest donations were 4,000 kuna paid by party officials: Sonja Cikotic, Bozo Petrov and Nikola Grmoja each.

The GLAS party reported HRK 51,000 in donations, with its leader Anka Mrak-Taritas having paid 10,000 and parliamentary deputy Goran Beus-Richembergh 8,000 kuna.

The Human Shield party had 23,000 kuna of donations, mainly secured by donations given by its members.

The New Left which secured seats in the new, 10th parliament had donations in the amount of 19,000 and the biggest individual donation in the amount of 10,000 was paid by the Specijalna Oprema Lucko company, whose core business is developing, manufacturing and installing equipment for gas, oil, petrochemical and general process industries.

About 30 political parties have so far submitted their reports on donations and they are available on the Electoral Commission's website.

In the first half of this year the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party received HRK 560,000 in donations for its regular political activities, a report published on Monday shows.

Many political parties, including those in parliament, reported no donations, including the Independent Democratic Serb Party, the Croatian Pensioners Party, the Istrian Democratic Party and Let's Change Croatia. Independent MPs Vladimir Bilek, who represents the Czech and Slovak minorities, and Veljko Kajtazi (Roma minority) also reported receiving no donations.

The Social Democratic Party, Bridge and the Homeland Movement are yet to submit their reports. The deadline is July 15.

Any party that fails to do so by the given deadline faces a fine of between HRK 10,000 and 100,000, while MPs and councillors face a fine of between HRK 2,000 and 20,000.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

GLAS: Bishops Should Clearly Tell Voters To Vote For HDZ

ZAGREB, June 17, 2020 - The GLAS party said on Wednesday that in its election message, the Croatian Bishops Conference (HBK) was again prevailing upon voters who to vote for in the parliamentary election, i.e. the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

"The Croatian Bishops Conference has not disappointed in this election either, giving voters before the official opening of the campaign detailed instructions on who they should vote for," the party said in a press release.

The HBK is instructing citizens to vote for options that advocate marriage as a union between a man and a woman, "the culture of life" and education based on Christian morals, GLAS said, adding that this time bishops also pushed for non-working Sundays.

Given that the HDZ recently put up posters on that topic all over Croatia, "it's clear who the bishops mean. Just as we have warned, the HDZ used the coronavirus epidemic to curry favour with and accommodate the Church, and now, of course, the favour is being returned."

It was not by chance that the Sunday work ban was in force for all but religious gatherings nor was the fact that the government did not appeal to the Church for solidarity and savings, GLAS said, adding that the HBK should "stop being embarrassed and clearly tell voters what it actually wants to say - vote for the HDZ."

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Three Associations, GLAS Against Non-Working Sundays

ZAGREB, May 3, 2020 - The associations -- a Croatian association of agricultural producers, a national association of cafe and restaurant owners and the Voice of Entrepreneurs -- said in their joint press release that ban on Sunday trading would reduce revenues of retailers, small farmers and cafe owners.

The press release issued on Sunday recalls that those businesses have already been hit hard by the corona crisis, and ban on Sunday trading would be additional shock. They ask for regulation of the work on Sunday rather than ban.

Tihomir Jaić of the Croatian association of agricultural producers said that family farms that sell their produce on the farmers' markets would suffer from that ban on Sunday shopping.

Vedran Jakominić of the above-mentioned association of cafe and restaurant owners said that the ban on Sunday trading was an act of encroaching on the economic and human freedoms, although cafes and restaurants could be nominally open on Sundays.

He said that due to the ban on Sunday work of shopping centres, cafes and restaurants placed in those facilities would not be allowed to work, too.

The Opposition party GLAS on Sunday reiterated its position that the ban on trading on Sunday was only in the interest of the election campaigning of the ruling HDZ party led by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, while this measure would be to the detriment of small businesses.

Small retail owners and agricultural producers cannot endure that ban now when they do business in restrictive conditions due to the epidemiological situation, sad GLAS.

The temporary ban on Sunday trading has been recommended as an epidemiological measure to curb the COVID-19 spread.

More economy news can be found in the Business section.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

GLAS Demands Payment of Full Wages for People in Self-Isolation

ZAGREB, April 23, 2020 - The opposition Civil and Liberal Alliance (GLAS) has called for the payment of full wages for people in self-isolation rather than HRK 4,250 (€560) a month as is now the case.

The party has put forward amendments to the Compulsory Health Insurance Act proposing that people ordered into self-isolation because of the current coronavirus pandemic be paid the full amount of their wages. It also suggested that organ donors on sick leave also be paid their full pay.

"We don't expect the government to accept our proposal. The coronavirus has brought about many changes, but it hasn't brought about one change and that is that the opposition's proposals are accepted," GLAS leader Anka Mrak Taritaš told a press conference in Parliament on Thursday.

GLAS MP Goran Beus Richembergh said that "the call by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic for us to weather this crisis together is hypocritical and a pack of lies because the ruling parties haven't considered or accepted any of the proposals put forward by opposition parties."

"All the ruling parties are doing and saying is geared towards the forthcoming elections," Richembergh said.

A similar proposal was recently made by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) as well.

Mrak Taritaš also commented on the consequences of a strong earthquake that struck Zagreb and its environs on March 22, saying that nothing had been done.

"The prime minister can't keep his eyes firmly shut while going around the town and not see that, and Mayor Milan Bandić, instead of handing out building material, could at least have had the streets swept and washed and the rubble taken away," she said.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Thursday, 5 March 2020

GLAS Urges Government to Regulate Electric Scooters

ZAGREB, March 5, 2020 - The leader of the opposition liberal party GLAS, Anka Mrak Taritaš, on Thursday again urged the government to regulate electric scooters so as to prevent possible road accidents.

"Amend the Road Safety Act as urgently as possible before something serious happens," Mrak Taritaš said at a press conference after the government rejected the amendments to that effect put forward by GLAS.

GLAS proposed that electric scooter drivers, who are still treated as pedestrians under the law, should be required to wear high-visibility vests and helmets and to have appropriate lights on their vehicles.

The parliamentary Committee on Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure today rejected our proposal by five votes against, although it includes concrete and well-balanced solutions for all road users concerned, GLAS MP Nada Turina Đurić said.

"It is intolerable that in a law-governed country in the 21st century the driving of thousands of electric scooters is not regulated, and risks are great," she said.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Saturday, 29 February 2020

GLAS Launches Its Election Platform

ZAGREB, February 29, 2020 - The GLAS party will run in the coming parliamentary elections with the platform "Green development - free development", party leader Anka Mrak Taritaš said on Saturday.

Speaking at a news conference at which this opposition party presented its coordinators for ten constituencies, Mrak Taritaš recalled initiatives launched by GLAS, including a proposal for a revision of the Vatican agreements, a proposal for the adoption of a resolution on the climate and environmental crisis, and proposals for a more efficient judiciary.

"Green development is a topic that cannot be ignored, climate change and its consequences have made us realise that we have to make big adjustments. Those adjustments are on the one side dangerous and on the other they create new opportunities for our economy and we must be prepared to use them," said Mrak-Taritaš.

She said that the key topic of the second part of the party platform was personal freedoms.

"The right to choice, a secular state, equality before the law and further progress in realising one's full potential for all people are the main elements of our policy," Mrak-Taritaš said, adding that the party looks forward to diversity.

GLAS is willing to cooperate with all parties that share its values, she said.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

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