Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Green-Left MP says Entire Government Should go, no to Reshuffle

ZAGREB, 6 April 2022 - Green-Left Bloc parliamentary deputy Sandra Benčić said on Wednesday that her group was against a government reshuffle, and that the entire government should step down due to possible affairs that could compromise new government members, an allusion to Construction Minister Ivan Paladina.

"Construction Minister Ivan Paladina was appointed a month ago, and affairs regarding his ties with (the construction company) IGH have just begun to be discovered, his ties to Hidroelektra (construction company) are likely to be reported about as well," Benčić said in the parliament.

"We are yet to learn how he acquired the real estate he owns, and why someone with so many properties takes a loan to invest into who knows what", Benčić said, adding that she believed new discoveries were pending.

Benčić went on to say that there were allegations about criminal reports against Paladina.

"We do not know if they have been dismissed or not, but I find it unbelievable that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has appointed him minister despite the fact that there are certain problems of which we have all been aware," she said.

In his declaration of assets Paladina declared buildings, hectares of land, savings deposits, and monthly loan installment payments in the amount of more than HRK 51,000, with his wife working in his firm for a salary of HRK 4,000.

"That says everything about our tax system. In our tax reform proposal we insist that the state should actually not care about which part of a taxpayer's income comes from work, and which from property or capital but how much the taxpayer earns in total, with the total amount being the criterion for putting taxpayers into specific tax groups, according to which they pay their taxes and contributions," Benčić said.

The MP noted that workers constituted the backbone of the country's health and pension systems while others, whose income comes from property and capital, have the possibility of paying themselves the minimum wage, which enables them to pay minimum taxes and contributions to the state while earning millions from capital and property, for which they pay a 10% tax.

"This country has been refusing to build a fair system for 30 years", she said, adding that the way Finance Minister Zdravko Marić tried to rectify it was completely wrong.

"Our tax system is utterly unfair because it favours the rich while the entire system of public services, also used by the rich, depends on those who earn the least", she said.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Green-Left Mayoral Candidate Says He Doesn't Have Police Protection

ZAGREB, 27 May 2021 - The candidate of the Green-Left coalition for the new mayor of Zagreb, Tomislav Tomašević, said on Thursday that he had neither asked for the police protection nor did he have it.

Tomašević insists that the campaign in the run-up to the second round of the mayoral election in which he will face off Homeland Movement leader Miroslav Škoro is marked by hate and incendiary speech and fake news as never before.

Addressing the press in Zagreb today, Tomašević said that he had come to the venue of this news conference by tram and on foot just as he had done yesterday.

"I do not have the police protection, I have not requested it. Yesterday, you saw the stepped-up police presence as part of their regular activities at some of our gatherings," Tomašević said after on Wednesday police officers were spotted standing near the venue of Tomašević's news conference, which prompted media outlets and some politicians to speculate that Tomašević was given the police protection.

In response to reporters' questions on Wednesday, if he had been given police protection, Tomašević told reporters to ask police about that because security assessment was not what he and his colleagues did.

Concerning this topic, President Zoran Milanović said on Wednesday afternoon that he would bet that Zagreb mayoral candidate Tomašević had been receiving threats given his opponent Miroslav Škoro's incendiary campaign.

Later in the day, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said the left parties in Zagreb kept quiet about the attacks on him and his HDZ party yet were now appalled by mayoral candidate Škoro's attacks. "Now you hear the aggrieved crying of all the people who otherwise keep quiet, and that's the phenomenon of the Zagreb election. You have the left which is now crying, yet is otherwise silent."

However, Tomašević said today that "nobody from the left is crying now".

"I do not have the police protection, I and my assistant have come together. There is no police here," Tomašević said adding that he feels safe and that he has not received any serious threat to date.

He reiterated that it was up to the police to assess security threats concerning the public gatherings of his political party and their sympathizers.

He said that when it came to fake news  "there is a direct connection between" his opponent Miroslav Škoro and the funding of the fake news publication on social networks.

Tomašević said that he would consider taking possible legal action after the completion of the mayoral runoff.

 "We are now focused on the second round of the elections," he added.

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

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Tomislav Tomašević Pledges Reorganisation of Zagreb City Administration

ZAGREB, 18 May, 2021 - The Green-Left Coalition's candidate for the mayor of Zagreb, Tomislav Tomašević, said on Tuesday that after the 30 May runoff, which he expects to win, the coalition would embark on a reorganisation of the city administration and ask the heads of its 27 departments to offer their resignation.

"If we want a change, it is our right to ask the city ministers, as well as directors of city-owned companies... to offer their resignation," Tomašević said at a news conference.

He noted that he would ask current office-holders to submit reports and evaluate their work, while new department heads would be chosen in public procedures and the number of city departments would be reduced due to reorganisation.

Tomašević said that he would not make any rash moves and would hold meetings with all department heads and ask them to report on what had been done so far.

"The only criterion will be one's performance, and I have been familiar with that, having been a city councillor for the past four years," he said.

Citizens urged to apply

He called on citizens who believe they have the necessary qualifications to apply once vacancies are advertised, noting that they would be expected to implement the political goals of the Green-Left Coalition's platform.

Tomašević also commented on the statement by his rival Miroslav Škoro of the Homeland Movement, who on election day, 16 May, referred to him and his coalition as the far left.

"That kind of tactic does not and will not work in Zagreb, as shown by the election outcome," Tomašević said, noting that he did not intend to demonise his political rivals.

He noted that in the first round of the election Škoro had led a smear campaign.

This was proved by the Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries (HAKOM) as it has turned out that Škoro had hired an agency that phoned voters and vilified his rivals, Tomašević said, noting that he would continue a positive election campaign.

He called on voters to give him the largest possible support in the runoff, adding that every vote would count as it would enhance the legitimacy of the planned changes.

The coalition of the We Can! platform and its partners won 23 of the 47 seats in the Zagreb City Assembly, and Tomašević said that they would discuss forming the majority, based on programme cooperation, with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) but not before the runoff.

He noted that he had already discussed this with the SDP's mayoral candidate, Joško Klisović, and that he did not expect any problems with the formation of a stable majority.

Tomašević said that he expected to be supported in the runoff by candidates from the centre to the left, which Klisović already did after the first round of the election, calling on SDP voters to support Tomašević in the 30 May runoff.

Danijela Dolenec, a candidate for Tomašević's deputy, said that the results of elections for local government units, showing that their slate was the strongest in 16 of the 17 of Zagreb's districts, proved that citizens had recognised that their coalition's relationship with citizens was based on partnership.

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

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Green-Left Bloc, Homeland Movement Criticise National Recovery Plan

ZAGREB, 13 April, 2021 - MP Sandra Benčić of the green-left bloc said on Tuesday that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković was "lying that the National Recovery and Resilience Plan is completed," adding that it was an unambitious and incompetent programme which recycled 20-year-old reforms and projects.

Speaking to the press, Benčić said that MPs, who are due to debate the document on Wednesday, received only its summary because experts were still fine-tuning it.

She said the plan contained no links between investment in innovation and investment in the economy.

"The lack of ambition and incompetence of this programme is extremely worrying," Benčić said, adding that the plan would not help the economy and society to either recover or become more resilient to either climate change or other challenges of the 21st century.

Homeland Movement: Plan shows government has no daring for brave decisions

The whip of the Homeland Movement party, Stjepo Bartulica, said the summary of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan showed that the government lacked the daring for brave decisions and that Plenković had once again failed to adopt a serious strategy.

Bartulica said he saw no willingness for structural reforms and that the plan should have given more consideration to the demands and remarks by the enterprise sector as it was the one creating added value.

He said the plan also reflected no will to reform the health system, adding that the problem in healthcare was not doctors' expertise but how the system was managed and the monopoly of the Croatian Health Insurance Fund.

Speaking of totalitarian symbols, Bartulica said either all should be outlawed, including those of "communism and the totalitarian Yugoslavia," or that they be allowed as free speech.

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

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Parliamentary Opposition: Additional Rights For War Veterans Unnecessary

ZAGREB, 17 March, 2021 - Some parliamentary opposition parties on Wednesday criticised amendments to the Act on the Rights of Homeland War Veterans, saying that they unnecessarily expanded rights for that group, while the ruling majority dismissed their claims.

Damir Bakić of the Green-Left Bloc said the bill was harmful as it introduced in more than one way additional and not necessarily needed benefits, both financial and non-financial, for war veterans and members of their families.

"That will additionally move them away from society and real life, as if we were creating a new caste for which special rules apply," said Bakić.

Under the amendments, members of the families of fallen war veterans that already have their housing problems solved will each be able to regulate their housing needs under the bill, obstacles to one-off financial aid are being removed, the scope of persons who are given priority in employment is being expanded, Bakić said, citing some of the examples.

Silvano Hrelja of the Croatian Pensioner Party/Croatian Peasant Party group said he had nothing against war veterans being first-class citizens but that he was against pensioners being second-class citizens, so he proposed amendment of the Pension Insurance Act.

"The existing law on war veterans is good and what is now being proposed should be scrapped. Too much is too much," said Hrelja.

He stressed that defenders and disabled war veterans were worthy of everyone and every generation's respect, without special privileges and benefits.

Social Democrat Martina Vlašić-Iljkić said it was not necessary to additionally expand veterans' rights.

"How long will this continue? 25 years after the war the status of war veteran and disabled war veteran is being recognised," she asked, noting that care for war veterans was good, especially if compared to care for other groups such as pensioners, the socially deprived and civilians with disabilities.

Marijana Balić of the ruling HDZ party said the amendments were not about additional rights but exclusively about technical organisation regarding the exercise of rights from a law adopted in 2017, expediting procedures for granting the status of disabled war veteran, housing provision procedures, social rights and adjustment of pension insurance-related rights.

Miro Bulj (Bridge) and Željko Sačić (Sovereignists) said that they supported amendments designed to expedite procedures but noted that they could not help but think that they were being proposed for election purposes, and their view was supported by Stipo Mlinarić of the Homeland Movement.

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

Friday, 15 January 2021

Green-Left Bloc Refuse to Get Vaccinated Under Priority Vaccination Programme for MPs

ZAGREB, 15 January, 2021 - The parliamentary group of the Green-Left Bloc have refused to undergo vaccination against COVID-19 as part of a priority vaccination programme for MPs, saying that there is not enough vaccine at this point and the doses intended for them should be administered to health workers and vulnerable groups.

"All members of the Green-Left Bloc want to get vaccinated against coronavirus and support the vaccination of as many people as possible. What's more, we think the vaccination is the only way for us to get back to at least a semblance of normality and halt the pandemic that has turned all our lives upside down," the group said in a statement on their Facebook page on Friday.

They said that, like ordinary citizens, they had contacted their GPs and signed up for vaccination as soon as there was enough vaccine for the general public.

A third of lawmakers, or 51, have signed up for vaccination, scheduled for Monday at 1pm.

Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković has said it is important that MPs get vaccinated in order to send a message as politicians that vaccination is necessary and important and that it can help in the fight against COVID-19. He dismissed claims that it was lawmakers' privilege.

Monday, 20 July 2020

Green-Left Coalition for Reviving Dairy Industry

ZAGREB, July 20, 2020 - The Green-Left Coalition said on Monday they would forward to the government and parliament a model for revitalising dairy production in Osijek-Baranja County, highlighting the purchase of Meggle plants or a package of measures to rescue that industry.

It is necessary to examine if Meggle Croatia is interested in selling the company, including production plants, the coalition said in a press release. If so, it added, it is in the public interest to ensure the funds for the purchase via Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development loans.

If not, the government must come up with a package of measures to rescue the dairy industry in that region by organising contract farmers and workers as well as a company to succeed Meggle Croatia by reallocating EU funds, the coalition said.

One of the reasons why Meggle is relocating its plants outside the EU is that non-EU countries offer a lower cost of labour and do not have the same ecological standards as EU member states, notably regarding waste waters in the food industry, the coalition said.

Germany's Meggle is closing its plants in Osijek and laying off 160 workers. It is allegedly relocating to Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina due to a high cost of labour.

The coalition said that according to Eurostat, Croatia was at the bottom in the EU in terms of the total cost of labour and that taxes on labour stemmed from an unjust system and low taxes on other incomes.

The coalition said Meggle's decision indicated that Croatia should invest in its own production which should not be interested only in profit but also responsibility to the community as well as the development of the sector and the region of business.

The coalition said the closure of the Osijek plant would affect 340 contract farms whose main source of profit was the dairy industry.