Saturday, 9 October 2021

Croatian Companies Seeking New Export Opportunities at Anuga Food Fair

ZAGREB, 9 Oct, 2021 - Eight Croatian companies are showcasing their products at the Anuga food fair which is taking place in the German city of Cologne from 9 to 13 October, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) announced on Saturday, describing the fair as the central gathering point for food companies from throughout the world.

Croatia is represented by food and drink producers Kraš, Dupin, Pekar, Hermes International, Uje, Arabesca, Varžak Med and Prodan Tartufi.

Dragan Kovačević, the HGK vice-president for agriculture and tourism, said that this was the first fair of global significance to be taking place in person since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are glad about our members' interest in fairs despite the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, as well as the fact that the exhibition space is sold out. The HGK covers half of the costs for its members and we believe that our help will make it easier for them to find opportunities to enter new export markets," Kovačević said.

This year's show has attracted nearly 5,000 exhibitors from more than 100 countries. The previous fair, held in 2019, drew 165,000 professional visitors from 200 countries, which confirms its leading position in Europe, the HGK said.

For more on business, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

 

Monday, 27 September 2021

Voice of Entrepreneurs Director Running for President of Croatian Chamber of Economy

September 27, 2021 - An interesting candidate has entered the race to be the new President of Croatian Chamber of Economy - Dražen Oreščanin Executive Director of the Voice of Entrepreneurs Association (Glas Poduzetnika - UGP)

The press release in full:

THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF UGP IS READY TO ASSIST THE INSTITUTION THAT HAS BEEN IN CRISIS FOR YEARS

Dražen Oreščanin is running for president of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce

After the significant role he played in founding today's leading and most massive association of entrepreneurs with almost 18,000 volunteer members, Dražen Oreščanin has decided to make his experience and knowledge available to the Croatian Chamber of Economy, an institution in a great and long-standing crisis.

The state leadership has very often made unfounded and inappropriate accusations against the Association of theVoice of Entrepreneurs that the Association wanted to destroy Croatian institutions such as the Croatian Chamber of Economy. This candidacy of one of the leading people of the Association not only denies the statements of the state leadership, but also indeed shows the opposite to be the case, that UGP wants to fix and change for the better everything that politics destroyed and spoiled in the mandates of the previous and current president, who were and are primarily the selection of political elites.

The Croatian Chamber of Economy must be led by entrepreneurs and must work in the interest of entrepreneurs. Today, the vast majority of forced members of the Croatian Chamber of Economy have no confidence in this institution and do not want to be its members. Oreščanin has the full support of UGP President Hrvoje Bujas and UGP Board of Directors for his candidacy, who believe that modern and independent chamber organizations, which are at the service of their members, are one of the fundamental goals of the Association.

"Finally, entrepreneurs have a candidate for president of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, and if they were elected, I am sure that Drazen would be, because with his knowledge and experience, and his work so far, he deserves it. Burilović was appointed by politics, it is time to leave, and for the Croatian Chamber of Economy to become an independent association based on voluntary membership " - said Hrvoje Bujas, president of UGP.

Dražen Oreščanin's program for restoring the trust of entrepreneurs in the Croatian Chamber of Economy is based on three strategic points.

The first point is the depoliticization and restoration of the reputation of the Croatian Chamber of Economy. The functioning of the Croatian Chamber of Economy must be depoliticized and the leadership of the Croatian Chamber of Economy should be independent of politics and political parties. The Croatian Chamber of Economy must no longer be a dumping ground for worn-out political personnel and a place for the employment of party youth.

The second point is voluntary membership. In this way, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce will get rid of all those who do not want to be members and will be able to focus on those who really want to be members and support them efficiently and well, instead of spending resources (which someone has to pay) on a large number of small members. pay the membership fee according to the existing bill. In the future, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce should function on a market basis.

The third point is to raise the quality of services and attract new volunteer members. The Croatian Chamber of Economy must provide top services to its members, and thus attract new members, whether they are existing or newly established companies. It is necessary to redefine the existing services, and to design and implement new services that will bring additional value to the membership.

Dražen Oreščanin's impeccable business and entrepreneurial career is a guarantee that these changes will be made. Dražen is one of the founders and partners, and a long-time President of the Management Board of Poslovna inteligencija d.o.o., a company that today has branches in seven countries and employs 140 people in Croatia, and a total of 170 people. Business Intelligence is the winner of the Golden Marten plaque of the Zagreb Chamber for 2018. He has many years of experience in running entrepreneurial associations - from 2013 to 2016 he was a member of the Board and President of the Croatian Association of Independent Software Exporters (CISEx), and since April 2020 he has been the executive director of the Voice of Entrepreneurs.

"The only right way to build civil society is to build independent institutions. In Croatia, all civic institutions, including the Croatian Chamber of Economy, have always been dependent on politics and political appointments. If I am elected to the position of President of the Croatian Chamber of Economy, it will be a precedent and the real beginning of changes and reforms. I believe that the ruling policy will show maturity this time and that it will not interfere in the process of electing the President of the Croatian Chamber of Economy by forcing a party candidate. I would like to have an opponent who, with his knowledge, experience and attitude, is really a real competitor, and not a puppet of political players, so let the President of the Croatian Chamber of Economy become the best, not the most suitable candidate. We have to return the Croatian Chamber of Economy to its original owners, which are Croatian entrepreneurs. " - said Dražen Oreščanin, executive director of the Voice of Entrepreneurs association and candidate for president of the Croatian Chamber of Economy.

***

The VOICE OF ENTREPRENEURS initiative was launched as a self-organization of citizens, mostly small entrepreneurs, after the publication of the first package of economic measures of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, which the initiators assessed as insufficient. Since in less than 15 days it gathered more than 100,000 entrepreneurs, craftsmen, self-employed and private sector employees and attracted a lot of media attention with its uncompromising demands and appearances, GLAS PODUZETNIKA positioned itself as a relevant factor in public debates on determining Croatia's new economic direction. The same was confirmed by the Government of the Republic of Croatia, which, within the second package of economic measures, adopted some of the proposals of the initiative and thus confirmed its undeniable impact. At the request of the members of the initiative, the Association GLAS PODUZETNIKA was founded, which has gathered more than 17,700 members since its establishment, and the Association is supported by over 250,000 citizens of Croatia.

For the latest news from the Voice of Entrepreneurs Association, follow the dedicated TCN section

Friday, 27 August 2021

HGK Says Robust Growth in Q2 in Line with Expectations

ZAGREB, 27 Aug 2021 - The robust growth in the second quarter of 2021 is within expectations based on the relevant indicators, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) said on Friday in its comment on the preliminary data showing the Q2 16.1% economic growth year-on-year.

The HGK's analysis shows that all the big sectors had high growth rates in the second quarter compared to 2020 Q2.

For instance, industrial output increased 13.9%, retail trade jumped 20.5%, and the volume of construction work increased 16% in the second quarter this year, the HGK recalls. Furthermore, tourist arrivals skyrocketed 131.7% compared to the second quarter of 2020, and their overnight stays increased 129.2%.

The HGK says that all the basic activities contributed to the growth on the year.

For more on business, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Burilović Says HGK Needs Further Reforms, Possibly up to 150 Layoffs

ZAGREB, 13 July, 2021 -.The president of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), Luka Burilović, said on Tuesday  that further reform moves were necessary for that institution, and added that up to 150 people might be laid off.

Addressing the HGK general assembly in Zagreb, Burilović said that after 30 years, this institution would be overhauled due to the new legislation on the HGK.

Also on Tuesday, Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić outlined to lawmakers a new bill on the chamber, explaining that the purpose of the new legislation was to encourage positive changes and not to undermine the reputation of the HGK.

Last week, the government sent to the parliament a draft bill on the HGK whereby the mandatory membership fee will be waived for more than 95% of entrepreneurs in Croatia.

The bill envisages three categories of members.

The first group includes members who can apply for the fee waiver if they meet at least two of the following three criteria: their total assets do not exceed HRK 7.5 million, their annual revenues do not exceed 15 million kuna, and/or the number of people on their payroll is below 50.

The second category comprises those who surpass at least two of the above mentioned criteria, however, they do not surpass the following three criteria: assets of 30 million kuna, their annual revenues do not go beyond HRK 60 million and the number of their employees is up to 250.

The third category includes those who surpass two of the requirements set forth for the second category.

Category 1 members, an estimated 126,000 businesses whose monthly fee has been 42 kuna so far, will be exempt from the mandatory membership, however, they will pay additional services and products of the Chamber, as specified in the HGK price list.

They will be offered the possibility to pay voluntary membership aimed at stimulating the modernisation of the workings of the chamber.

Members from Category 2 and 3 are supposed to pay the mandatory membership fee and the fee will be defined for each category on an annual basis.

Addressing the HGK assembly, Burilović said that when he came at the helm of this institution in 2015, the first wave of reforms started and at the time the HGK personnel was downsized from 670 to 380. He expects the further layoffs  and also recalled that fees had been slashed four times in the said period.

After the implementation of the new law, the chamber is likely to have 230 people on its payroll.

The HGK assembly today decided to exempt businesses from the quake-hit areas from the fee payment in the rest of this year.

Also businesses from the hailstorm-affected parts of Požega-Slavonia County are exempt from the payment of membership fees this year.

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

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Over 95% of Entrepreneurs to Receive HGK Fee Waiver Under New Law

ZAGREB, 8 July 2021 - The government on Thursday sent to the parliament a draft bill on the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) whereby the mandatory membership fee will be waived for more than 95% of entrepreneurs in Croatia, Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić said.

The bill envisages three categories of members.

The first group includes members who can apply for the fee waiver if they meet at least two of the following three criteria: their total assets do not exceed HRK 7.5 million, their annual revenues do not exceed 15 million kuna, and/or the number of people on their payroll is below 50.

The second category comprises those who surpass at least two of the above-mentioned criteria, however, they do not surpass the following three criteria: assets of 30 million kuna, their annual revenues do not go beyond HRK 60 million and the number of their employees is up to 250.

The third category includes those who surpass two of the requirements set forth for the second category.

Category 1 members will be exempt from the mandatory membership, however, they will pay additional services and products of the Chamber, as specified in the HGK price list.

They will be offered the possibility to pay voluntary membership aimed at stimulating the modernization of the workings of the chamber.

Members from Category 2 and 3 are supposed to pay the mandatory membership fee and the fee will be defined for each category on an annual basis.

The current legislation regulating the HGK was adopted in 1991. Under that law, the lion's share of members, that is 96.7%, pay a monthly fee of 42 kuna and have access to most of the services and products provided by the chamber.

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

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Croatian Chamber of Commerce Seeking Aid for Caterers Until End of Year

June the 19th, 2021 - Many are hoping that the Croatian Government's aid and job preservation measures will continue being paid out until the end of the year, and the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) is one of the loud voices in that particular crowd.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the Association of Hospitality Activities of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce is asking that the government measures designed to help enterprises in this sector, which has been among the hardest hit by the anti-epidemic measures in Croatia, continue until the end of the year.

The aforementioned Association within the Croatian Chamber of Commerce desires this outcome regardless of epidemiological measures in place at any given time throughout the rest of this year, warning that in the first five months of 2021, only 50 percent of the turnover recorded back in pre-pandemic 2019 was achieved. This means that there is a continued pressure being placed on the Croatian hospitality and catering sector, despite the more favourable epidemiological situation, eased measures and the gradual return of tourism from abroad.

The Association from within the Croatian Chamber of Commerce suggests that the threshold for granting an exemption from needing to pay contributions on top of employee salaries of 4,000 kuna be lowered to those with a proven 30 percent drop in turnover. They propose the same conditions for the exercise of the right to reimbursement of paid fixed costs, and to ensure the payment of this support for the duration of epidemiological measures, they want this to be the case for the entire period in which the business of those in this line of work is limited.

"Recovery will continue long after the pandemic is over. Therefore, we propose that the permanent reduction of VAT on coffee, beer, wine, soft drinks and beverages and its equating with the accommodation and serving of food/desserts to 13 percent be taken very seriously.

We believe that this is a measure without an alternative that is needed to make the hospitality sector more stable and competitive, which will directly affect the increase of employment and investment,'' says the President of the Association, Drazen Boban, adding that to save tourism in Croatia this year, we need to urgently simplify the employment procedures required when employing third country nationals.

For more, follow our business section.

Monday, 7 June 2021

Voluntary Croatian Chamber of Commerce Membership Won't Come to Pass

June the 7th, 2021 - The much desired voluntary Croatian Chamber of Commerce membership won't come to be, despite the pleas and frustrations of many company owners who can't seem to understand what on Earth they're paying for by being forced to be members.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, about a month or so ago, the Croatian Government left the domestic economy in doubt as to what model of Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) system reform to follow. It had otherwise changed the previously announced abolition of mandatory Croatian Chamber of Commerce membership for all companies to the retention of mandatory membership, but with the exception of small and micro enterprises needing to pay any such associated fees.

The first step has now been launched in the preparation of legal amendments that will solve this long-standing and frustrating issue, which is to put into public discussion the form of the previous assessment of the Law on the Croatian Chamber of Commerce that the Ministry of Economy released on Friday.

The aforementioned Ministry states that the goal of the future law is to introduce voluntary Croatian Chamber of Commerce membership, which would stimulate the modernisation of the chamber's system and offer services that would attract new and motivate old members to stay within the Croatian Chamber of Commerce. The size of any given enterprise is not stated, and therefore it can be logically concluded that this freedom of choice could indeed apply to all companies.

However, confusion was caused by the continuation of the previous assessment of that same form, in which the focus was primarily placed on releasing the obligation to pay membership fees for small and micro enterprises, while medium and large ones would "remain in the payment regime". Contrary to the set goal of introducing voluntary Croatian Chamber of Commerce membership, which entails the total abolition of compulsory membership, the continuation of the proposal communicates only the abolition of membership obligations for small and micro enterprises.

In the unofficial communication from the legal circles of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, one immediately hears the interpretation that this is probably an "awkwardly" formulated explanation, but also that the state could still abolish membership obligations for all businesses.

The Ministry of Economy clarified the dilemma - when asked about this issue, they replied that Croatian Chamber of Commerce membership would indeed remain mandatory, with the exception of micro and small enterprises, who would remain members but would not longer need to pay any fees. Such companies otherwise make up an astounding 97 percent of the chamber's members. So, nothing can be gathered whatsoever regarding the announced introduction of voluntary membership only.

A system of categorisation for the payment of Croatian Chamber of Commerce membership fees

At this stage of defining further reform, it isn't clear what effect things will have on the future financing of the chamber and whether certain activities will be supported by the state budget.

The Ministry only envisages that Croatian Chamber of Commerce membership fees will be paid according to a specific category, depending on the economic power of a given company, which will be determined by the criteria of its size, income and total assets, and it is stated that the HGK Assembly will determine the price list for the payment of such a fee.

In assessing the effects, the Ministry believes that only small and micro enterprises will see them, estimating that it will not have much of an effect because it is a release of a mere 42 kuna per month, which is "too small for such savings to have an effect."

The public debate on the form of the preliminary impact assessment of the law on the Croatian Chamber of Commerce will go on until June the 21st, and will then by followed by the drafting of the related bill. This also indicates that the proposal will not be in the parliamentary procedure in mid-July, as was previously planned.

The introduction of voluntary Croatian Chamber of Commerce membership, which will actually be reduced down to the abolition of payment obligations for small businesses, according to the set schedule will follow within 30 days after the entry into force of the new Law on the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, which will have one year to reform.

A similar reform, although not really in focus at the moment, will follow for the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts.

For more, follow our politics section.

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Croatian Chamber of Commerce Membership to Remain Mandatory

May the 12th, 2021 - The Croatian Chamber of Commerce membership which is bothersome to the vast majority of Croatian enterprises who frequently claim that their membership, and as such their fees to the chamber, don't offer them anything in return.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, changes to the law on the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) which were announced after last week's meeting of coalition partners and Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic left many astonished. Most of those who had their jaws hit the floor in amazement have been waiting for years for a clear message that Croatian Chamber of Commerce membership should become voluntary. Of course, that isn't going to happen.

The idea is, as most expected, to keep Croatian Chamber of Commerce membership as a mandatory obligation, but to release small companies from the obligation to pay their membership fees.

The very fact that some companies will remain under the obligation to pay is doubtful because it brings enterprise owners into the muddy waters of constitutional inequality, since in settling an obligation, the constitution doesn't distinguish between categories of companies headquartered in Croatia.

The move has been made as a partial solution to the problem of dissatisfaction among some company owners with the existing Croatian Chamber of Commerce membership model, which, as lawyers say, if realised according to the announced concept, will open new divisions and continue to generate a sense of injustice among the country's various business owners.

In other words, if we're going to change and abolish Croatian Chamber of Commerce membership fees, then such a reform should be well thought out and prepared for. For now, neither the Croatian Chamber of Commerce nor the relevant Ministry of the Economy have received more detailed information on when the new rules should start to be applied, ie what the transitional period for releasing companies from paying Croatian Chamber of Commerce membership fees will actually look like or be.

Unofficially, it can be heard that this concept envisages a series of changes in the very definition of the size of companies, as well as that Croatian Chamber of Commerce membership fees paid by a smaller number of companies will be "corrected". There are no details on it all yet, but the existing criteria by which the size of the company and the corresponding fee were determined in the Croatian Chamber of Commerce differed from the criteria set by the law on accounting.

According to this law, companies are classified into micro and small, medium and large enterprises depending on their respective amount of total assets, income and the average number of employees during the business year.

Micro-enterprises mustn't exceed two of the three conditions - they mustn't have assets of more than 2.6 million kuna, revenues of more than 5.2 million kuna and they can't have any more than 10 employees, small enterprises may not have more than 30 million kuna in assets, 60 million kuna in revenues and more than 50 workers, while medium-sized enterprises can't have more than 150 million kuna in assets, 300 million kuna in revenue or more than 250 workers.

When calculating Croatian Chamber of Commerce membership fees, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce defines three groups, the first of which, those considered small and currently make up the majority of members and should now be exempt from membership, are companies that do not exceed two of the three criteria - 7.5 million kuna in total assets, 15 million kuna in revenue and 50 employees.

The second group, medium-sized companies, are those with assets of up to 30 million kuna and revenues of up to 59 million kuna, and 250 employees. This category of enterprises currently pays a monthly Croatian Chamber of Commerce membership fee in the amount of 1083 kuna, while large enterprises who exceed two of the three aforementioned criteria are obliged to pay a considerable sum of 3973 kuna per month.

When it comes to just how much the membership fees could increase, there's no unofficial information yet, but it's likely that this will follow. At this moment in time, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce collects about 160 million kuna from various membership fees, and about 32 million kuna from other services and activities.

The open question remains as to which of the rights will be able to continue being used by enterprises who will no longer need to pay membership fees, as well as possible membership fee hikes for those who must continue paying.

The Minister of Economy, Tomislav Coric, announced that part of the financing of the activities of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce will be transferred to the state budget, but there are still no details on the delimitation of financing from fiscal and parafiscal sources.

For more, follow our business section.

Friday, 16 April 2021

The Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) Requests Priority Vaccination for Shop Assistants, Builders, Undertakers

ZAGREB, 16 April, 2021 - The Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) on Friday requested that trade and construction workers, as well as those working with infectious medical waste and at cemeteries, be placed on the vaccination priority list, since they are directly at risk from catching coronavirus.

Josip Zaher, the HGK vice president for commerce and financial institutions, pointed out that those employed in trade, especially those working in shops, were much more exposed to the possibility of getting infected with coronavirus, that is, the possibility of the infection potentially spreading is higher.

"The tourist season is coming, and retailers are very important in the overall tourist offer of a country, especially when we know that the percentage of the population vaccinated will be among the most important data for travellers when assessing a destination's safety," Zaher said.

He said that a total of 205,655 people were employed in trade in 2020, or 15.2% of all employees in legal entities. The largest number of employees was in retail trade, 115,352.

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

Monday, 22 March 2021

Croatian Chamber of Commerce Continues Waiving HGK Membership Fees

March the 22nd, 2021 - The Croatian Chamber of Commerce has decided to continue to waive HGK membership fees for Croatian entities as the global coronavirus pandemic rages on.

Mandatory fees paid to the Croatian Chamber of Commerce have been a burning topic of irritation for Croatian companies for many years now, long preceding the coronavirus pandemic which has caused tremendous issues for the income of companies, particularly those who have had their ability to work limited or banned. 

Many Croatian enterprise owners have campaigned throughout the years for the total abolition of HGK membership fees, with some claiming that the institution is useless and does little to nothing to actually help them in any way.

The coronavirus pandemic has seen economic measures introduced by the government to try to preserve jobs and keep the heads of negatively affected companies above water. With various payments, including contributions, being written off for the time being, HGK membership fees were always due to be next in line and the continuation of the temporart abolition of membership fee payments is set to continue.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, at the ninth session of the Assembly of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, a decision was made to continue with the measure of the temporary abolition of the obligation to pay mandatory HGK membership fees for entities/activities whose work remains banned or in some way limited by the country's current epidemiological measures.

Given that the measures to control the infection will continue to be applied in this form until March the 31th, 2021, the Assembly voted to propose to continue, at least for that period, with the abolition of the obligation to pay HGK membership fees for Croatian companies whose operations have been forced to be limited.

It's worth noting that the decision of the Assembly of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce to temporarily (from January the 1st to March the 31st, 2021) abolish the obligation to pay HGK membership fees for members of the Chamber also refers to those companies based/headquartered in the areas affected by December 2020's Petrinja earthquake, and who were prevented from doing business due to those circumstances.

For more, follow our business section.

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