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.

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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.

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Saturday, 27 March 2021

HGK's Luka Burilovic Seeks Priority Vaccination for Croatian Exporters

March the 27th, 2021 - The main man of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), Luka Burilovic, has stated his desire to have Croatian exporters seen as priority when it comes to getting vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, highly positioned people from the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts (HOK) and Croatian Exporters (HIZ) have asked the National Civil Protection Headquarters to put enterprises and their employees, such as Croatian exporters, engaged in international business on the priority vaccination list.

It is increasingly certain, as they pointed out in their statement, that most countries will prescribe a mandatory vaccination measure as a condition for strengthening exports, ie participation in international activities such as various types of conferences, fairs and forums.

Therefore, the leaders of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, HOK and HIZ have jointly sent a letter to the National Civil Protection Headquarters to make Croatian exporters as vaccination priorities.

"Going abroad is necessary for export activities, as well as for maintaining existing relations and negotiating new ones, and this is crucial for the entire economy. The organisers of international fairs are increasingly asking for certificates of vaccination from all participants, which is an additional reason for their urgent inclusion in the vaccination protocol,'' said the President of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, Luka Burilovic.

The president of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce says that the daily migrations of workers to neighbouring countries should be taken into account, especially in areas of the country like Medjimurje, Varazdin and Krapina-Zagorje counties.

"For all of them, employers have to bear the costs of PCR tests, which creates a significant financial cost for them and additionally burdens their business," warned Burilovic.

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