Wednesday, 20 April 2022

Paladina Appointed Minister to Step Up Reconstruction, Plenković Says

ZAGREB, 20 April 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday that Construction, Physical Planning and State Assets Minister Ivan Paladina was brought into the government to step up post-earthquake reconstruction and that it was up to him to explain everything concerning his assets.

"He was brought in to step up the reconstruction process, including public infrastructure, private houses and buildings in both Zagreb and the Banovina region. That's his job," Plenković said in parliament during Question Time.

He was responding to Ivana Posavec Krivec of the Social Democrats, who asked why Paladina assumed the full responsibility of a minister when there were so many "unknowns" and suspect questions about him.

Plenković said Paladina had experience in construction and in running projects in the private sector.

"If you appoint someone who is a politician and has legitimacy, who is part of the parliamentary majority, it's not good. If you appoint someone from the public sector who has not earned even one kuna in the government sector so far and who told me he could explain and justify everything he has, then that's it."

Plenković said Paladina came from the private sector and took a risk, adding that Paladina presented a five-point plan to step up reconstruction, that the government and the ministries involved had many meetings, and that he himself made sure that Croatia could spend European Solidarity Fund money for the reconstruction longer than planned.

"That's an incentive so that, with that and other sources, we can deal with reconstruction, which will take years," Plenković said.

He added that he had "great expectations (of Paladina). It's up to him to explain everything concerning his assets because that has nothing to do with either you or me. What concerns me is that he addresses and steps up the reconstruction process or another subject, whether it's construction, physical planning or state assets."

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Minister Says Wife's Employment in Line With Law

ZAGREB, 6 April 2022 - Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets Minister Ivan Paladina said on Wednesday that his wife's employment was in line with the law, that he did not see anything controversial about her salary, and being registered as receiving minimum wage was not a tax cheat.

"My wife was employed and registered in line with the law, as many other employees in private firms. I don't see anything contentious about that," Paladina said in Sisak.

"I have paid extremely high taxes and contributions for a large part of my career and I did not complain about it because it was in line with the law. It is all right to pay taxes in line with the law," said the minister.

Asked how he had acquired a number of land plots in Slavonia, Paladina said that it was a larger number of plots that had not been bought from the IGH construction company but were taken over based on claims from IGH bonds which he had acquired on the market and via a public auction.

"None of it is of Russian origin, everything is of Croatian origin. Everything I declared in my declaration of assets is a result of my work as a manager, my ventures as an entrepreneur and investments over the past 15 years or more," he said, adding that he had never held a public office before and had worked in the private sector and in line with market conditions.

Asked about his stake in the Kupari Luxury Hotels, Paladina said that it was not about a procedure to transfer stakes but a procedure to exit the company.

"I initiated that procedure two years ago and a court case is underway. It has not been completed and I cannot influence the dynamic of the proceedings, it's not correct to compare it with the transfer of business stakes," he stressed, adding that he did not sell his stake because there had been no buyers before just as there were none now.

Asked about the value of his declared assets, Paladina declined comment.

"A certain portion of the amount is an estimate. The amounts I declared are visible. I have worked and made money my whole life, you can see from my loans that I also risked a lot, it turned out that I worked and invested well," said Paladina.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Thursday, 24 March 2022

€70m Project For Upgrading Zagreb University Clinical Hospital Agreed

ZAGREB, 24 March 2022 - Physical Planning and Construction Minister Ivan Paladina and the director of the Zagreb-based KBC - University Clinical Hospital, Ante Ćorušić, on Thursday signed an agreement on the €70 million "Stage III" reconstruction project of this hospital.

A new multi-purpose building will be constructed within the existing hospital compound and the funds earmarked for the construction and reconstruction has been secured with a loan from the World Bank. 

The new hospital will be over 27,800 square metres large, and will have eight floors with an open parking lot on five levels and an emergency heliport.

Paladina underscored that the project is an example of quality and concrete cooperation between the KBC hospital, the competent ministry and expertise.

"When we have a clear common objective and when everyone involved in the project gives a maximum contribution then things function. This is in fact a positive example of what we want to apply to all other post-quake reconstruction procedures with an even greater active participation of the state and profession, and citizens themselves," Paladina said.

Ćorušić underscored that Stage III is part of a strategic document for the KBC's development for a ten-year period and that in 2018 a feasibility study had already been conducted regarding the relocation of the Šalata Hospital to the Rebro KBC.

The project was delayed because of the earthquake but now we have obtained a World Bank loan of $81.8 million and an additional €25 million through the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, said Ćorušić.


Politics: For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 20 March 2022

Ministers Say Post-quake Reconstruction at Turning Point

ZAGREB, 20 March 2022 - Construction and Zoning Minister Ivan Paladina and War Veterans' Minister Tomo Medved, who heads the national crisis management team for post-quake reconstruction, visited Petrinja on Sunday and on that occasion they said that the reconstruction process was at a turning point.

They held a working meeting with local authorities.

The lion's share of the administrative procedure, as a precondition for the start of building work on damaged structures, has been finished.

Now, the process of the post-quake reconstruction has reached a turning point.

During their stay in Petrinja, the ministers also met local activists who told the officials that local inhabitants expect the government to provide more accurate information about the reconstruction and to speed up the whole process.

For more on this, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Paladina Receives Parliament's Vote of Confidence as New Construction Minister

ZAGREB, 9 March 2022 - Parliament on Wednesday gave a vote of confidence in Ivan Paladina as the new minister of construction, physical planning and state assets, after which he was sworn in.

He was supported by 77 lawmakers in the 151-seat legislature, while 51 were against and three abstained.

An entrepreneur and manager with more than 15 years of experience in strategic and executive leadership in different fields of business, Paladina is taking over the ministry from Darko Horvat, who resign last month on suspicion of illegal allocation of incentives to small businesses while he served as the economy minister in 2018.

Paladina is faced with numerous challenges due to slow post-earthquake reconstruction in the Zagreb and Banovina areas.

Earlier today the parliamentary construction and economy committees supported by majority vote, a conclusion to appoint Paladina as the new minister.

During the hearings, the opposition questioned his private businesses such as Kupari, Hidroelektra, the Croatian Postal Bank and the IGH Institute as well as his alleged Russian ties.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković attended the hearings, calling the argument that Paladina is a Russian player ridiculous and reiterating that Paladina has not had contact with Russian companies in four or five years.

Paladina called on the MPs to report him to the authorities if they felt there was anything contentious in his role.

"I will also say that even if someone was Russian, should we really sever all contacts with him just because of the brutal aggression on Ukraine?" said Plenković.

With his entrepreneurial and managerial experience, he added, Paladina should accelerate the reconstruction process.

Addressing the committees, Paladina said "it's a fact that reconstruction has not started on even one building in Zagreb. That's what we must work on the most." He added that reconstruction was under way in the Banovina region and that progress would be seen soon.

Paladina said he would call Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević tomorrow to convene a meeting and start to actively deal with every obstacle on a daily basis so that reconstruction could start as soon as possible.

For more information on this, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Paladina Has Accepted Nomination to Help Post-quake Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 9 March 2022 - Ivan Paladina, who has been nominated as the candidate for the new construction minister, said on Wednesday that he could not turn down the proposal made by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković for his nomination as it is a call to rebuild the earthquake-affected homes of Croatian citizens.

"We have little time and a lot of work to do. I accepted this proposal as it also concerns the call to reconstruct the homes of our compatriots," Paldina said while presenting his agenda at a joint meeting of the parliamentary committees on construction and the economy today.

He said that he is always guided by principles of cooperation, inclusion of different opinions and that he always listens to the opinions of professionals and wants to make things simpler.

"Administrative obstacles must not slow down the reconstruction of anyone's home and they must not hinder progress. People, who suffered damage in the (2020) earthquakes, must not fall victim to rules", he said.

He will also focus on making legislative changes so as to accelerate the processes of post-quake reconstruction.

Concerning the criticism from the Opposition that he was an executive of the company that ran the Kupari Luxury Hotels project, Paladina underscored that he had withdrawn from that project four years ago and that he launched procedures to exit from ownership, in this case, two years ago.

"All the investments I was included in were conducted in line with the law and market principles, and I paid my taxes accordingly", he said.

In response to the questions from opposition MPs, Paladina said that to date he has completed many successful investment projects in construction and real estate and that his experience could be useful for the post-quake reconstruction.

The ministerial nominee said that he had already consulted experts and has detected the main problems in the process of the post-quake reconstruction.

For more information on this, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

PM: Construction Minister Nominee's Experience, Enthusiasm to Contribute to Government

ZAGREB, 9 March 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Wednesday presented the nominated minister of construction, Ivan Paladina, in the parliament, and said that the candidate's experience and enthusiasm are supposed to be a useful contribution to his cabinet.

"The government needs a man with the experience in the construction sector, project management, and real estate and with managerial and entrepreneurial skills so as to make the processes more dynamic," Plenković said at the joint meeting of the parliamentary committees on construction and the economy.

Paladina, born in 1983, graduated from a faculty of economics and has also a postgraduate degree in management. He used to be an advisor to the management of Hrvatska Poštanska Bank (HPB) and before that he had been the chair of the management board of the IGH Institut construction company.

The PM said today that the ministerial department of construction and zoning had three important tasks: to accelerate the post-quake reconstruction, to make the issuance of building permits and other documents faster and simpler in order to boost the investment cycle, as well as to make use of the state property.

For more information on this, check out our dedicated politics section.

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Opposition: New Minister Close to Russian Oligarchs, Vulnerable to Blackmail

ZAGREB, 8 March 2022 - The parliamentary Opposition on Tuesday criticised the ruling majority's proposal to appoint Ivan Paladina the new Construction Minister, saying that he was close to Russian oligarchs, which made him vulnerable to blackmail from the very beginning.

The Opposition also said that by nominating Paladina, the ruling HDZ was trying to dodge responsibility for the failed process of post-earthquake reconstruction.

Sandra Benčić of the Green-Left Bloc told reporters that the latest nomination showed that PM and HDZ leader Andrej Plenković not only made bad personnel choices but that Paladina was in a clear conflict of interest because he was manager of the Kupari company, which was to have made an investment in a former hotel complex whose demolition was opposed by Croatian architects, who demanded its preservation.

Katarina Peović of the Workers' Front said that Paladina was in a conflict of interest even before taking office, which, she said, is a classic example of "the HDZ's personnel policy."

Marijana Puljak of the Centre party said that it was difficult for PM Plenković to find a person for a ministerial post who was not compromised, stressing that this showed that "not everybody wants to have a relationship with the HDZ because people judge you by the company you keep."

Anka Mrak Taritaš (GLAS) said that the HDZ had evidently decided not to deal with reconstruction "but find a minister to shift all the blame onto, so this time they have opted for a manager."

Bridge party vice-president Nikola Grmoja said his party group was already calling Paladina "Vanyushka" because of his ties with Russians.

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Milanović Says He Has Never Heard of Paladina, But Sees He's Close to Russian Oligarchs

ZAGREB, 8 March 2022 - President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday that he had never heard of Ivan Paladina, the candidate for the new construction minister, but that he could see that he was close to Russian oligarchs and that he would prefer to see a politician or an engineer in that post.

"The man has sizeable assets, which on the one hand deserves respect, but on the other hand, one always wonders how somebody's property was acquired, if they are not a top athlete or innovator but a broker," said Milanović.

Commenting on the fact that the new minister was not a member of the HDZ, Milanović said he saw that as a sign of caution having to do with the arrest of former construction minister Darko Horvat by the Office of the Attorney-General.

"When half of your government is arrested, with some members having been arrested unconstitutionally and completely inexplicably, you get extra cautious," said Milanović.

The ruling coalition earlier in the day unanimously supported Ivan Paladina as the candidate for the new Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets, to be voted on by the parliament on Wednesday.

Among other things, Paladina was also the CEO of the Institute IGH civil engineering company and the chief advisor at the Croatian Postal Bank (HPB).

On ministry's reaction to court decision on Burčul's retirement

Milanović also commented on the Defence Ministry's reaction to the Administrative Court's decision to quash its decision to send into retirement Colonel Elvis Burčul, commander of the Honorary and Protection Battalion, which protects the president.

The ministry said the court decision would have no effect on Defence Minister Mario Banožić's decision to send Burčul into retirement.

"The ministry's message is criminal behaviour, I do not consider it binding in any way," said Milanović.

He said that with its decision the court had actually told Banožić that he had made up the reason for Burčul's retirement and that his reaction was completely normal "for a petty thief and liar."

On sanctions against Russia

Milanović also commented on the sanctions which Croatia, as part of the EU's response to the Russian aggression on Ukraine, can impose on Russian companies and oligarchs, stressing that one should take care the sanctions do not turn into an act of retaliation.

"There has been in the HDZ, notably during (former HDZ leader Tomislav) Karamarko's term, a... group of people linked with Russians and Ukrainians," he said, adding that decisions on who could be subject to sanctions were very arbitrary.

"One should be careful with that and take care, regardless of what the document says, that Croatia does not suffer harm," he said.