Friday, 24 April 2020

Glas Poduzetnika Open Letter to Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic

April 24, 2020 - An English version of the Glas Poduzetnika open letter to Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on April 22.

PRIME MINISTER PLENKOVIC, WE DEMAND FOUR POSTULATES FOR CROATIA 2.0:
MORE WORK, DIGITALIZATION, LOWER TAXATION, AND MORE JUSTICE

Dear Prime Minister,

On 17th April 2020, we reached out to you with a request for a meeting, to which you did not respond. We believe that our responsibility for the future of Croatia is to send you publicly this open letter. That is our obligation, being a legitimate representative of over 100,000 citizens of Croatia that support us—entrepreneurs, self-employed who are members of the Association, their employees, and collaborators.

We would like to, on behalf of entrepreneurs, self-employed, and employees of the private sector, bring your attention to 4 main postulates (postulates are hypothetical in nature, but necessary and their existence is required, as per their name, according to the Latin postulare: demand, seek, postulates are necessary as necessary assumptions), based on which we should, from 1st June 2020, begin the restoration of the Croatian society and state:

THE FOUR POSTULATES FOR CROATIA 2.0 ARE:

  1. #MoreWork—State should not encourage non-working or less work with its tax, law, and other politics—on the contrary! They should support work, increase turnover, profits and wages increase!
  2. #Digitalization—State has nothing to ask from us entrepreneurs and self-employed any document that they issued to us themselves! Digitalize the state administration. You started now, and it's time to continue to the end!
  3. #LowerTaxation—State does not have to give anything to us entrepreneurs, but it should take less, because we know the best what and where to invest the money that we made ourselves!
  4. #MoreJustice—State should be the last to charge! Why do we ask for VAT payment upon invoice collection to become permanent, and not temporary measure? Well, because in this case, the justice system will start functioning, the state will take all steps to keep it efficient so that they could charge their part as soon as possible! We need an efficient judiciary system!

That is why we believe it is imperative to think about the future of Croatia right now, with the relaxation of measures, the opening of companies, and the market.

Considering these postulates, the following is crucial:

  • Tax reform, with the abolition of progressive taxation of labor, where, it turns out, everyone who earns more is penalized, and demotivated, as well as the employer who has to pay more for additional charges. We suggest a FLAT RATE 20% tax, with the minimum census (non-taxable part) of 5000 kn.
  • The level of entry into the VAT system should be a minimum annual income of 1,000,000 kn.
  • Profits reinvested back into the company should not be taxed.
  • Encouraging issuance and receipt of invoices, returning tax benefits that the entire modern world has, such as dentist visits, taking care of children in kindergartens, thus fighting the colossal danger that follows—the grey economy.
  • Abolition of ALL parafiscal charges, including mandatory membership fees in chambers and communities.
  • State Inspectorate should be the advisory and supervising body and not the repressive one.
  • Reorganization and reduction of public administration and local governments, which should be active public service.

Of the many trees—Government's measures, their implementation, all kinds of ideas from all sides and concepts—we do not see a forest! We don't see the critical problem that is happening now. We entrepreneurs are being made a social category, which we are not. Our task is to increase competitiveness, to make the profit in the market, to increase employment, and to fill the budget so we all could have the efficient public service and creation of new values. This is us, these are entrepreneurs, and it is up to us to adapt to both existing and tomorrow's market conditions!

After each crisis, as well as after the one in 2008, bureaucracy increased significantly, along with the state expenditures. This time it SHOULD NOT happen. On the contrary, it is an opportunity to reduce bureaucracy!

Mr. Plenkovic, we sent you a letter where we ask for a meeting, we ask for it as soon as possible, urgently. Time is flying, our Voice must be heard, and this time the key topics should not and cannot be organized without us, entrepreneurs, self-employed, and employees in the private sector.

Hrvoje Bujas

President

Glas Poduzetnika Association

***

The GLAS PODUZETNIKA Initiative started as a citizens' self-organized group, most of which are small entrepreneurs, after the announcement of the first set of Government's measures, which the organizers deemed insufficient. The Initiative assembled more than 100,000 entrepreneurs, small business owners, self-employed, and the employees in the private sector in less than 15 days, drawing the media spotlight with its uncompromising requests and appearances. Considering this, GLAS PODUZETNIKA positioned itself as a relevant factor in public discussions aimed to determine Croatia's new economic direction. Its position was also confirmed by the Government of the Republic of Croatia, having included some of the Initiative's suggestions in the second set of economic measures, thus confirming Initiative's undeniable influence. At the request of the Initiative's members, the GLAS PODUZETNIKA Association was created and received more than 6.000 applications for membership in a short time.

You can follow the Glas Poduzetnika initiative on Facebook.

For the latest from Glas Poduzetnika on TCN, follow our dedicated section.

Monday, 20 April 2020

Croatian Inspectors Seal 20 Restaurants Contrary to Tourism Ministry Instructions

April 20, 2020 - Glas Poduzetnika demands to enable the operation of Croatian entrepreneurs' restaurants.

The sad fact is that we became a slave nation that, through its supervisory activities, in an unprecedented situation in modern history, punishes small businesses who are trying to maintain work activity and keep job positions while letting global corporations work through drive-in facilities.

Yesterday, we received information about a large number of closed facilities due to the distribution of food in front of the objects or the food brought to the customer's car. As per their records, the decisions state the violation of article 9a of Hospitality and Catering Industry Law, i.e., "performing the activity contrary to the decision of Committee for Civilian Protection of Croatia (CZRH)."

"Yesterday, state inspectors banned work for 30 days and sealed off more than 20 restaurants in Zagreb, Rijeka, and other cities due to the handing food to the customers in front of the restaurant. Restaurants Tekka, Rustica, Čingač, and many more had to close. "This procedure will cause the additional unnecessary loss of several hundred jobs," said Vedran Jakominic, a member of the Board of Directors of the GLAS PODUZETNIKA Association and Vice-President of the National Hospitality Association. "Immediately after the decision of the Committee for Civilian Protection, a request was sent to the Ministry of Tourism related to this particular situation, and an official response was received at 15:20 h on 19th March 2020 stating the following: The customer can personally pick up the ordered food on the doorstep of the object or in its immediate vicinity. Regarding the queries on further interpretation following the inspection procedures against the instruction from the COMPETENT MINISTRY, CZRH did not respond, although the Committee's coordinator Mr. Karas on 2nd April 2020 pointed out the importance of clear and unambiguous interpretation of instructions, which would also be required from the Committee. All the listed restaurants acted per the instructions of the Ministry of Tourism and followed all security protocols, for which we have the documented correspondence."

The inevitable conclusion is that the formation of the Inspectorate which collectively assumed the responsibilities of inspection supervision in the name of the competent ministries was a rash decision without secured competencies since the Inspectorate acted contrary to the only valid interpretation of the instructions of responsible Ministry, which is superior to the Inspectorate. Upon the foundation of the Inspectorate, it was promised that all relevant regulations would be clearly stated on their website before they would enter the service. However, this promise was not fulfilled. It was guaranteed that the Inspectorate would primarily have the advisory role whose first step would be to warn on irregularities.

However, in the most challenging moment for small businesses, the Inspectorate does just the opposite and adds a new level of uncertainty to the plate of ever-exposed entrepreneurs. We have a gradual normalization with additional conditions ahead of us. Can we trust the Inspectorate that they will ensure uniform and precise treatment in the interests of all citizens, and even those who pay taxes? Actions per all available information were followed by a "reward" of 30 days of the closed object and a still unknown amount of the fine.

Entrepreneurs, do you feel protected? Do you feel calm and safe when representatives of Inspectorate, tax authorities, customs authorities, or representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs come to your premises? When they come to your battered offices, where you spend most of your working day and make every effort to do everything by the law, accounting by the rules? Do you feel safe and protected when you need advice, suggestions, or when you read laws that concern you? Do you have the confidence that when you do at the best of your abilities, per everything you have learned, when the authorities who are here to ensure the functioning of society on our behalf come, that they will correct you where you are wrong, refer to protocols and procedures, and explain the unknown?Article 49 of the Croatian Constitution says: "Entrepreneurial and market freedom are the basis of the economic structure of the Republic. The state provides all entrepreneurs with an equal legal position in the market. Monopolies are prohibited. The Republic contributes to the economic progress and social well-being of its citizens and takes care of the economic development of all its regions."We crave Croatia 2.0, where the work of the state and its bodies will be to carry out joint affairs of its citizens, following the Constitution of Croatia and for the benefit of all its citizens equally.On this occasion, UGP demands the removal of inspectors responsible for such actions, and their superiors who gave them such a task, from the service. They should be assigned to jobs according to their real abilities or finally share the fate of those in whose interests they should work, and become part of the statistics of the unemployed.

Why are we requesting this? For acting contrary to the instructions of the competent Ministry and for not reporting possible misinterpretation of the instructions, not asking for a correction, and not informing people who risked their health on the spot acting contrary to the advice of the epidemiological service. Because they were either arbitrarily punishing in this insane situation, or if they didn't, they allowed thousands of restaurant employees across the country to work outside the safety conditions provided by the expert team of people who are managing this crisis.We insist on the immediate annulation of all fines in these and similar situations, and on ensuring conditions for safe work in facilities. Besides, we demand that public sector employees include a novelty in their actions, which is the work in harmony and cooperation with entrepreneurs, rather than harassing, humiliating and punishing people who not only feed the private sector but provide for the National Treasury as well.

***

The GLAS PODUZETNIKA Initiative started as a citizens' self-organized group, most of which are small entrepreneurs, after the announcement of the first set of Government's measures, which the organizers deemed insufficient. The Initiative assembled more than 100,000 entrepreneurs, small business owners, self-employed, and the employees in the private sector in less than 15 days, drawing the media spotlight with its uncompromising requests and appearances. Considering this, GLAS PODUZETNIKA positioned itself as a relevant factor in public discussions aimed to determine Croatia's new economic direction. Its position was also confirmed by the Government of the Republic of Croatia, having included some of the Initiative's suggestions in the second set of economic measures, thus confirming Initiative's undeniable influence. At the request of the Initiative's members, the GLAS PODUZETNIKA Association was created and received more than 6,000 applications for membership until this moment.

To follow the latest from the Glas Poduzetnika initiative, follow them on Facebook

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Glas Poduzetnika Survey: Transparency of Public Institutions Expenditures

Zagreb, April 16, 2020 - The latest survey from the Voices of Entrepreneurs, Glas Poduzetnika, focuses on transparency in public institutions.

After the implementation of measures to save the economy and job posts in the private sector, we can also see initiative aimed at the transparency of information about the users of these measures. Glas Poduzetnika supported this initiative immediately, considering the idea that transparency is crucial on all levels and in all sectors. Moreover, we suggested right away that in the spirit of openness, taxpayers should have visibility on how the money they sent to the state budget is expedited, as well as the expenditures in all other public institutions, businesses, chambers, communities, among others. We asked a question, Do you think that the expenses of all state institutions, state-owned enterprises, units of local government, chambers, communities, and associations funded from the state budget and trade unions should be transparent and accessible to citizens online?

The responses we received from an almost record number of participants are nearly unambiguous:

In total, more than 99% of participants believe that transparency is crucial and should be introduced. A direct response "Yes" gave just under 73% of participants, and just under 23% of them agreed that transparency is necessary, also adding the Church among mentioned institutions, which, in their opinion, should function transparently. Only a negligible percentage of people, 0.2%, believed that transparency was not necessary.

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Do you want transparency?

Yes, data should be publicly available

Yes, including the Church

No, it’s their thing

I’m not sure

Given such precise results, we hope that the initiatives that will allow this will also start with work as soon as possible. It is good that we also have some examples of cities that have already self-initiated such measures, and shortly after achieved significant savings in their budgets.

You can follow the latest from the Glas Poduzetnika Association on Facebook

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Glas Poduzetnika Supports Transparency And Public Disclosure of Data

Zagreb - April 14, 2020 - Data on the use of economic measures, as well as detailed expenditures of state and local governments, must be published publicly, says Glas Poduzetnika. 

Today's speech by the Vice-President of the Croatian Parliament has reopened the question of the lack of knowledge of the vital topic. Our responsibility as an association of entrepreneurs is to clarify the main parameters, that way avoiding putting into question one quality measure because of the possible cases of its abuse by individual entrepreneurs. Its primary goal is only one - to maintain job posts and to keep economic activity at the currently highest possible level, and for all of us to, as quickly and simply as possible, return to "normal" life, once the days of coronavirus pandemic are at least partially behind us. 

In particular, it should be reiterated that the minimum wage financing measure adopted by the Government, including 3,250 kunas of support net per employee in the first package, and 4,000 kunas net per employee in April's package, is an action with which the state does not help individual entrepreneurs, but provides conditions for the stay of employees in the private sector on their job positions. At the same time, the entrepreneurs are obliged to keep employees in work relations for the next six months, and, consequently, the retention of all other obligations once the conditions improve.

All this is a much more favorable and cost-effective solution, comparing the situation with the one where, due to the current reduction in economic activity, many employees would be forced to go to the employment service, which would finally cost the state a lot more.

We in the GLAS PODUZETNIKA Association consider that the Croatia Government's economic measures are the measures for the maintenance of job posts and that the list of companies using these measures should be completely transparent and under supervision of relevant institutions. We also believe that any misuse of these measures by any party or unintended expenditure of funds should be promptly and effectively sanctioned. If anyone, including the Vice-President of the Croatian Parliament, knows about the abuse of this measure in the personal interests of the entrepreneur, and it is clear that only employees have the right to use the measure, we invite them to make such conclusions publicly available. That would be done to protect the entire sector of micro, small and medium-size entrepreneurs who are fighting to save jobs and business activity today, with the long-term idea of a better future for all of us.

We also advocate for a fully transparent society. The annual reports of all entrepreneurs are publicly available and have been available for many years through several financial services. From our side, we expect maximal transparency of all budgets and expenditures of local governments (some of them have already implemented this). The same goes for state institutions and all other associations, chambers, trade unions, and other organizations that now do not have to publish their financial reports publicly.

***

The GLAS PODUZETNIKA Initiative started as a citizens' self-organized group, most of which are small entrepreneurs, after the announcement of the first set of Government's measures, which the organizers deemed insufficient. The Initiative assembled more than 100,000 entrepreneurs, small business owners, self-employed, and the employees in the private sector in less than 15 days, drawing the media spotlight with its uncompromising requests and appearances.

Considering this, GLAS PODUZETNIKA positioned itself as a relevant factor in public discussions aimed to determine Croatia's new economic direction. Its position was also confirmed by the Government of the Republic of Croatia, having included some of the Initiative's suggestions in the second set of economic measures, thus confirming Initiative's undeniable influence. At the request of the Initiative's members, the GLAS PODUZETNIKA Association was created and received more than 4,000 applications for membership within a few days of its founding.

You can follow the Glas Poduzetnika Association on Facebook

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Glas Poduzetnika Survey: What % of Croatian Private Sector Can Work at Home?

April 15, 2020 - More detailed information from the Glas Poduzetnika Association (Voice of Entrepreneurs) - how much of the private sector can actually work from home?

A large number of companies are currently forcibly closed, due to the fight against coronavirus. While we wait for the specific scenarios and forecasts as for how long this situation might last, we thought it would be good to have some information relevant for making decisions, also considering the economic side of the equation. Some professions and companies have made a successful transition to work from home, while some are in the process of doing so. We asked our members, "Can you work from home?" These are their answers:

Even 61% of private-sector employees do not have any possibility of working from home. Thus, they depend on the support of the state or on this situation to pass before returning to the old business models. 19% of participants accounted for the possibility of full-time work at home, and an additional 17% advised that they can partly work from home and do only some of their tasks. We should not forget that 3% of employees say that they can work from home, but that there is simply no work.

work-from-home-croatia.PNG 

Can you work from home?

I cannot

I can

I can, but partly

I could if there would be work

In addition to the fact that more than 60% of employees do not have the opportunity to earn their salary and sustain themselves, it should be noted that some who work experience problems with charging for their work at this stage. Because of this, we believe that it is necessary to start working on measure loosening scenarios as soon as possible when the health situation allows. More importantly, it is essential to inform them transparently and promptly, so that everyone can prepare as much as possible for an uncertain period, whether it is another 3 or 12 months or more.

You can follow the Glas Poduzetnika initiative on Facebook

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Glas Poduzetnika Surveys: Using the Croatian Government's Economic Measures

April 14, 2020 - So what do Croatia's entrepreneurs think about using the Government's new economic measures? Some Glas Poduzetnika surveys. 

In the surveys conducted while the new set of measures still hasn't been adopted, we received information that just under 7% of entrepreneurs were using the initially proposed measures and that around 70% of them were waiting for a better set of measures.

Taking into account that after the first undertaken initiatives of Glas Poduzetnika that came to the realization, we also collected the new data on the use of economic measures. The first question was, "Do you use any of the Government's measures?" The results show significant changes:

Almost 69% of entrepreneurs use some of the recently adopted measures, with another 8% planning to start using them, and an additional 3% who will apply for their use once they meet the conditions. Interestingly, 20% of entrepreneurs did not use or do not intend to use any measures.

 ff.PNG

Using the Croatian Government's measures
Yes, I do
No, but I plan to
No, and I don't intend to
Conditions were not met, but planning to

These results are quite positive and positively reflect the greater effectiveness of the new measures. We were also interested in, among those who use measures, what measures precisely do they use? We got the following results:

60% of participants use both wage subsidies and tax liabilities deferral, 31% use only wage subsidies, and only 6% exclusively use tax liabilities and charges deferral.
Given all the collected data, the Glas Poduzetnika Association believes that the measures that were requested and subsequently implemented are well-chosen and produce results at this stage. Of course, we should be aware that these are only emergency measures to put out fires and that for the longer-term prosperity of the economy, many other things will need to be changed, which the Association will also advocate.

gf.PNG

Measure usage?
Wage subsidies + tax liabilities and civil charges deferral
Wage subsidies
Tax liabilities and civil charges deferral
Other

You can follow the Voices of Entrepreneurs Association on Facebook

Thursday, 9 April 2020

Focus on Freezing Loans, Writing Off Rents, Utility Fees, Parafiscal Charges

Zagreb - April 9, 2020 - Glas Poduzetnika, the new Croatian association known as The Voice of Entrepreneurs, has announced its next steps. 

After a few days from the foundation, the GLAS PODUZETNIKA Association received the decision of registration in the Register of Associations and can start with work. In the first period, the Association will focus on the remaining demands and implementation of existing measures

"The Association is now registered, and applications are being reviewed so we can confirm the membership to all who applied, counting more than 4,000 people in the first five days. Our long-term goal is to participate in the work of the Economic and Social Council and to be the voice of entrepreneurs, especially micro and small businesses, self-employed and employees in the SME segment", said Hrvoje Bujas, the President of GLAS PODUZETNIKA. "Glas Poduzetnika is a prestigious representative of practically 70% of the private sector, and we believe that we complement with HUP, which gathers mainly large companies. Associations such as Glas Poduzetnika exist in all major economies—National Small Business Association exists in the USA for 80 years now, Germany has Verband der Gründer und Selbstständigen Deutschland (VGSD), and these organizations have tens of thousands of members. In this major crisis, we all had the opportunity to see that an organization like Glas Poduzetnika is necessary for our society."

The main objectives of the Association, defined in the Statute, are to promote and protect the interests of micro, small and medium-size enterprises in Croatia and their staff; to identify and encourage measures aimed at improving the entrepreneurial climate in Croatia; the creation of a more appropriate and favorable institutional environment for the development of micro, small and medium-size enterprises; the creation and promotion of business climate; the optimization of the efficiency of the state apparatus with the aim of the long-term sustainability of the economy and providing better services to citizens as well as to improve development and quality of society as a whole. No membership fee will be charged for membership in the GLAS PODUZETNIKA Association, and its activities will be funded from donations and commercial activities. Soon, the Association will also make public a detailed document with short, medium, and long term goals.

 

Meanwhile, after the April package of measures was published, the GLAS PODUZETNIKA Association has focused its current activities in four areas: the demand for banks and leasing houses to freeze loans and interest for 12 months; the demand for local governments to write off rental payments and utility fees; the demand for the country to cancel parafiscal charges, as well as support for members and the Government of Croatia in implementing measures and resolving open issues. 

Yesterday, the Association conducted two interesting surveys among its members. The first survey queried members' expectations from the Croatian National Tourist Board in the crisis and the following recovery period. The second one was about the opinion of entrepreneurs about what the territorial structure of Croatia should look like in the near future.

parafiscal-charges (2).png

First, we were interested in the attitude of entrepreneurs to the vast network of more than 300 tourist boards. Given that tourism is a profoundly affected sector which accounts for 20% of Croatia's GDP, we believe that opinions related to this topic are of strategic importance. When asked what they expect from tourist boards, up to 82% of entrepreneurs do not have any expectations because they believe that tourist boards are entirely useless. Just over 9% have some hopes and believe that targeted marketing actions should be initiated in accordance with the pools of tourists arriving on their transport. Another 5% think that tourist boards should first be radically reorganized, and 3% of participants are interested in fulfilling the board's promises to reduce membership fees in the short term. Considering these results, it is clear that the Association Glas Poduzetnika will also have an exclusive responsibility to encourage the public, the Government of Croatia and the competent Ministry to think carefully about how to optimize this crucial business sector and make the most of it since this system of tourist boards does not seem to fit the current situation.

parafiscal-charges (1).png

The question of the number of local government units is not new. Experts have for years warned of a massive amount of local government units, which is disproportionately large for the population and even for the size of the country only. The Glas Poduzetnika Association believes that this is the perfect moment to bring this topic to life and to finally make some decisions that can increase the chances of Croatia's long-term prosperity. Interestingly, the most significant number of participants responded to this survey within a few hours—almost two thousand of them. That shows how important this issue is and how many people believe it should be resolved as a matter of urgency. When asked if they thought the number of counties, municipalities, and cities should be reduced, the answers were very clear. A total of 97% of participants believe that the number of local government units should be reduced. 75% of them think that there should be 4-5 counties and 100 to 200 cities, while the remaining 22% believe that all units that cannot be self-funded should be eliminated. Of the remaining 3%, only 1% believe that the number should continue unchanged, and 2% have several different responses, each of which is negligible. Such results confirm past researches, but more extremely, potentiated probably with the impact of the current crisis. "Given the rarely observed unity in responses, we hope that the politics will also see that it is inevitable to initiate the process of territorial restructuring and optimization of local government as soon as possible," they emphasized from the Glas Poduzetnika Association.

Remember that the GLAS PODUZETNIKA Initiative started as a citizens' self-organized group, most of which are small entrepreneurs, after the announcement of the first set of Government's measures, which the organizers deemed insufficient. The Initiative assembled more than 100,000 entrepreneurs, small business owners, self-employed, and the employees in the private sector in less than 15 days, drawing the media spotlight with its uncompromising requests and appearances. Considering this, GLAS PODUZETNIKA positioned itself as a relevant factor in public discussions aimed to determine Croatia's new economic direction. Its position was also confirmed by the Government of the Republic of Croatia, having included some of the Initiative's suggestions in the second set of economic measures, thus confirming Initiative's undeniable influence. At the request of the Initiative's members, the GLAS PODUZETNIKA Association was created and received more than 4,000 applications for membership within a few days of its founding.

You can follow the latest from Glas Poduzetnika on Facebook

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Glas Poduzetnika (Voice of Entrepreneurs) Association Founded, Structure & Aims Explained

Zagreb, April 4, 2020 - At the request of GLAS PODUZETNIKA Initiative members, the Association GLAS PODUZETNIKA has been founded today. It will as the formal representative of its members - entrepreneurs, artisans, self-employed and private sector employees - continue the active fight not only for the rights of its members but for a better and more modern Croatia.

GLAS PODUZETNIKA Initiative was started spontaneously a little over 2 weeks ago by citizens, all small entrepreneurs after the Government announced its first economic measure package. It was deemed inadequate by the Initiative founders. The initiative has, in less than 15 days, gathered over 100,000 entrepreneurs, artisans, self-employed and employees in the private sector, and has drawn huge media attention with its uncompromising demands and actions. Many consider the GLAS PODUZETNIKA Initiative has had a considerable impact on the announced second package of economic measures.

Big activity and engagement in the ground have brought about a big number of suggestions and questions about the next step that the Initiative plans to take. Some have also stated that the Initiative is not a formal organization and that it does not have any legal representative. The next step proposed by the community is to found GLAS PODUZETNIKA as a real association so that the Initiative can legally represent its members. In the poll carried out by the Initiative, 96% of participants stated they would join the formal GLAS PODUZETNIKA Association.

Considering also the public opinion and opinion of its members, Initiative founders and a greater circle of volunteers who were included in the activities of the Initiative basically from the start have founded the Association GLAS PODUZETNIKA today. All documents necessary for the founding were given to the legal bodies for the registration.

At the founding Assembly official bodies of the association were named for a two-year mandate. The president of the Association is Hrvoje Bujas, the executive director is Dražen Oreščanin, two of them are also legal representatives of the Association. The executive board consists of 7 members, Andrej Šooš Maceljski, Berislav Marszalek, Bojan Bajgorić Šantić, Bruno Samarđić, Ivana Matić, Vedran Jakominić i Vuk Vuković. The Supervisory board has 3 members, Aco Momčilović, Gordana Fabijanić and Valerija Knežević. All founders and bodies of GLAS PODUZETNIKA Association are micro, small and medium business owners and they are a representative sample of its future members.

“After a lot of work that was done in the last two weeks, and after imposing ourselves as a relevant player and cooperator in this economic crisis, the formalization of our Initiative was needed.” Regarding the founding of the Association, Hrvoje Bujas stated “We have insisted from the start that politics doesn’t interest us. We are only interested in the wellbeing of not only all of GLAS PODUZETNIKA members but also the Croatian economy and society as a whole. GLAS PODUZETNIKA is not just the voice of the entrepreneurs, but also our employees, with whom we have shared both good and bad for years, as we are doing so in this crisis as well by insisting on enforcing the measures that would help us save their jobs.”

“This is only the beginning of our common fight, a lot of work is still ahead of us. We need to ensure the fast, efficient and unrestricted execution of the measures. There are still a lot of open questions that need answers. We need to ensure that all local jurisdictions give appropriate support to local entrepreneurs by writing off utility charges and rent for offices and public spaces. The Government still has a huge task of agreeing with the banks and leasing houses to freeze the loans and leasings for 12 months, so that the economy can breathe a little when all of this starts rolling again.” Dražen Oreščanin added.

The Association starts with its work right now, and the members can be all legal - businesses, associations and artisans, and all physical persons, firstly entrepreneurs and employees in small and medium businesses. All current members of the Initiative and all sympathizers can apply for the Association starting today through the application form available on:

At the founding Assembly was decided that the membership in the Association GLAS PODUZETNIKA will be free, and all its activities the Association will finance through donations. A decision was also made to open an additional account for donations intended for medical workers and for medical and sanitary equipment needed to fight coronavirus.

Structure and wishes of GLAS PODUZETNIKA Initiative members

Considering the neverending growth of GLAS PODUZETNIKA Initiative, that at the moment of writing this text numbers more than 43,000 members in its Facebook group and over 5,600 businesses with over 55,000 employees and permanent associates, a question was raised about giving more structure to the Initiative’s membership system. We consider that a piece of important information for the public considering the perception of entrepreneurs in some segments of our society. We raised a question, which category do our members belong to. The gathered results show that the biggest part of the Initiative’s members belongs to the group of micro-entrepreneurs (less than 10 employees) - 46% to be precise. The next category, numbering over 31%, are artisans. Small entrepreneurs (up to 50 employees) comprise little over 9% of the Initiative, and the next 5% are self-employed. It doesn’t surprise us that more than 4% of members are actually sympathizers of the Initiative or employees in the private sector. There are about 1% of entrepreneurs that employ more than 250 people.

The numbers show that over 83% of them are individuals or very small (micro) businesses, that think they don’t have anyone to systematically fight for their interests.

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Big activity and engagement in the group have brought about a great number of proposals and questions about the next steps that the GLAS PODUZETNIKA Initiative has planned. The next step proposed by the community is to found GLAS PODUZETNIKA as a real association, that way the Initiative would get a legal form and the ability to represent its members. To ensure the wishes of the Initiative members, we asked them if they are planning to join the Association GLAS PODUZETNIKA, if and when it is founded. We got an almost unanimous response - over 96% of the Initiative members say they would join the Association, less than 1% think that the association isn’t necessary. 1% goes to those who don’t know yet or they wouldn’t join at all, respectively. From those results, it is obvious that there is a need for this kind of association in Croatia. We think that this would help tens of thousands of people in the private sector, to ease the way they conduct business and to save a huge number of jobs in the ensuing crisis. It would also help micro and small entrepreneurs in the future.

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Read more - Pulse of Glas Poduzetnika: Perception of Minister Horvat Changes after New Measures

You can follow the Glas Poduzetnika initiative on Facebook.

For the latest on the coronavirus crisis in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Friday, 27 March 2020

Measures Proposed By Croatian Entrepreneurs Would Drastically Reduce Unavoidable Layoffs

Zagreb, March 26th 2020 - By the end of the year, if the government accepts the measures proposed by the initiative GLAS PODUZETINKA (Voice of Croatian Entrepreneurs), 250.000 jobs could be saved, 150.000 layoffs still inevitable.

CRISIS COST PROJECTION ON JOB AVAILABILITY

Headed by the prominent economical and political analyst PhD Vuk Vuković, GLAS PODUZETNIKA initiative made a projection of three possible scenarios that could befall the Croatian private sector. In the worst-case scenario, by the end of the year, 405.000 people could get laid off. In addition to that, by the end of 2021, 160.000 more people could be left jobless. If the current numbers are taken into account, the number of unemployed people could reach up to 700.000, more than half the number of currently working people.

The second scenario that follows the government’s measures will see the shock only partially mitigated. According to the assessments of the analytical team of the initiative, by the end of 2020, 290.000 people, and by the end of 2021, additional 120.000 people could face unemployment. If that happens, the total number of unemployed would climb up to 550.000.

“The assessment was made based on the negative reaction of leading companies to the proposed measures. They offer no security for planning the business years for 2020 and 2021 and some of the companies will have no choice but to go into debt just to keep afloat. In any case, companies will have to react with layoffs which are inevitable at this moment.”, says the initiative and adds that the government's plan will cause a big growth of budget deficit. They cite the inadequate measures package as the main culprit and add that there are no bigger budget expenses cuts planned. “We estimate that the budget deficit in 2020 could, in that case, reach 39 billion kuna, or almost 10% of GDP. In 2021 the deficit would go down because of the end of paycheck subsidies, but it would still be around 27 billion kunas or 6.8% of GDP.”, they remark.

In the third scenario, the Government would completely adopt the measures proposed by GLAS PODUZETNIKA initiative. The job cost of the crisis would be greatly mitigated and could reach up to 150.000 in 2020 with additional 60.000 in 2021. That would mean that we would end 2020 with a total of 290.000 and 2021 with a total of 350.000 unemployed people. After that, according to the initiative’s projections, a much stronger economic recovery would follow and a huge number of companies would be saved from ruin.

“In the case of accepting our measures, the budget deficit would be a bit smaller in 2020, around 25 billion kuna (6.4% of GDP) and in 2021 the deficit would go down to 3 billion kuna (0.8% GDP) because of the assumption of a faster recovery of the private sector.”, the initiative points out and adds that all three 2021 scenarios have accounted for unemployment growth in both public and private sectors.

The crisis will undoubtedly have a negative effect on employment no matter the scenario, so the goal of GLAS PODUZETNIKA initiative is to reduce the possibility of the worst-case scenario as much as possible. “The Government at this moment does not understand the cascade effect on the economy that will be caused by their inadequate measures. Besides that, the Government has not, at any moment, given information on its own projections. They also did not tell us which data, predictions and simulations they are basing their decisions on. Until they show their data to the public, our projections are valid, limited as they are in access to official data, but adjusted with input from the members of the initiative and observations of effects in real time.”, concludes the initiative.

GLAS PODUZETNIKA has to this day gathered almost 60.000 companies, self-employed, small businesses and their workers. With support from companies and businesses that made a profit of more than 11 billion kuna in 2019, its goal is to save the livelihoods of as many employees and entrepreneurs as possible, and to save the Croatian economy from potential long-lasting crisis.

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You can follow the Croatian entrepreneurs initiative on the Glas Poduzetnika Facebook page.

 

Saturday, 21 March 2020

In Medias Res: The Voice of the Entrepreneur (Glas Poduzetnika)

Or: How to save as many companies and employees. Meet Glas Poduzetnika (Voice of the Entrepreneur), a new private-sector initiative in Croatia.

March 21, 2020 - In the second half of March 2020, the coronavirus outbreak and its economic repercussions are on the rise and going truly global. From the health perspective, Croatia is comparatively well, with currently just 130 reported infected patients. On the other hand, chaos and fear, flavoured with uncertainty are also on the rise in business circles and between employers and employees. In the last few days, hundreds of employees have already been fired, and companies are preparing for the worst-case scenario, of losing 80 or 90% of their revenues, and trying to create some crisis management plans. And we are only at the beginning. The real problem is that nobody can say with certainty how long this crisis will last, and especially how long will we suffer the consequences. Will It be up to 2 months, and there is still some time for the tourist season, or it will be 6 or more months just to get rid of COVID-19? Some projections that are considered moderate, are mentioning 18 months of “economic contraction”. For Croatia, as a country significantly depending on tourism, the situation is far from good.

So, what happened in the last day or two? After the government published their extensive list of 63 measures, many entrepreneurial voices started to respond and to criticise the list. It seems that in comparison to other countries, they are not fast enough, clear enough, or efficient enough. They seem like politicians did something to save their jobs and explain their purpose, and not really to make things better for the economy.

A new initiative has been created by a group of 20 – 30 entrepreneurs (Hrvoje Bujas, Drazen Orescanin, Berislav Marszalek, Kristina Ercegovic, Ivana Matic, Bruno Samardzic etc.) and it got a name – The Voice of the Entrepreneur (Glas Poduzetnika). In less than 24 hours it gathered a few thousand entrepreneurs on Facebook, and is closing now on 10 000 members, a number that makes it a significant social voice. The number of stories shared in the group was amazing and at the same time depressing. There is really no time to waste and no sense to underestimate the situation and its consequences.

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The initiative was spontaneously created also as a response to the perception that the Croatian Government still doesn’t have the awareness that the private sector is feeding the public sector, and that if it goes down, country institutions will also not be able to function. In the call for solidarity, the Government is still not ready to reduce the working privileges of the public sector employees, their traditional voters, but to leave the burden of the crisis to the private sector alone. If some measures are just postponing some payments, and not cancelling them entirely for this period of time, it will be almost completely useless, and miss the intended positive impact on the economy.

On the other side, it is still visible that entrepreneurs are victims of the strong stereotypes about them. They are, in some parts of the society, still perceived as disproportionally rich, selfish and self-centered people who are just hoarding the money and don’t want to show solidarity with their workers and help them in this obvious time of need.

To fact check those comments, 2 surveys were organized which received hundreds of responses in a few hours. I think it will give a much clearer picture to the general population about the real situation of the Croatian entrepreneurial community.

The first question was:

How much cash do you have saved in reserve?

This should give a direct answer to the assumption of big piles of money in the hands of the entrepreneurs. And here are the results in Pie Chart 1.

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Almost 60% !! of entrepreneurs have financial reserves that are not higher than 5000 kn (some of them stated 1000 kn or even 0). That amount is insignificant for any kind of planning or decisions. The next 24 % has up to 20 000 kn in reserve which makes them able to pay their obligations and salary maybe for this month. The next 11% has up to 100 000 kn, and only 6 % has more than 100 000 kn. And it should be noted that this information is missing the obviously critical facts about the size and fixed costs of the company, which can make savings in millions disappear “overnight”.

The second question was about how much time they can survive AFTER they do some adaptations and cost-cutting? if this situation doesn’t get better significantly. And the answers are very aligned with the results from the first question:

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50% of entrepreneurs can survive only ONE month, after that they will just close. The next 43% will be able to survive up to 3 months – so basically the period of time that is predicted as a best and unrealistic case scenario. Only 5% of companies can survive longer than 6 months. Those facts should be seriously considered when making any state-induced measures.

The second interesting piece of the information would be to cross-reference local measures with the measures of other EU countries. And some documents are already being created.

To sum up, as many world leaders stated, this is the worst crisis since World War 2. Decisions made today should be wise and based on facts and with the overview of the whole picture. We will know in a very short period of time if those decisions are good or bad, but the consequences will be felt most probably for years. So let us all unite our experience and skills and make the best of this situation.

And to end with a quote and a song:

The revolution will not be televised, The revolution will be live 

Below a draft of the measures proposed by the Voice of the Entrepreneur:

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Aco Momcilovic

Member of The Voice of the Entrepreneur Group (Visit the Glas Poduzetnika Facebook page here)

Owner of FutureHR

You can connect with Aco Momcilovic via LinkedIn.

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