Wednesday, 6 July 2022

World Bank Official Confirms Partnership, Support to Croatia

ZAGREB, 6 July 2022 - Visiting Croatia on July 4-5, Gallina A. Vincelette, World Bank Regional Director for the European Union, held high-level meetings with key stakeholders to discuss the country's development priorities, the World Bank's support, latest macro-fiscal developments, and evolving global challenges.

Vincelette, who was accompanied by Jehan Arulpragasam, World Bank Country Manager for Croatia, and members of his team, met with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Zdravko Marić, Minister of Labor, Pension System, Family and Social Policy, Marin Piletić, Minister of Justice and Public Administration, Ivan Malenica, and key representatives from the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, the World Bank said in a statement.

"The Government of the Republic of Croatia must be commended for its economic and fiscal performance in managing the recent challenging global developments. The authorities are also continuing to deepen integration with the EU by fulfilling all economic criteria for joining the euro area in January 2023," said Vincelette, expressing satisfaction with the government's progress in implementing the agenda outlined in its National Recovery and Resilience Plan.

"Effective implementation of reforms would enable Croatia to create better foundations for long-term growth and lead to a more resilient, greener, and inclusive society. The World Bank is committed to continuing to support Croatia in achieving these goals."

During her visit, Vincelette also participated in the opening of the new Land Registry Office of the Zagreb Municipal Civil Court, financed by the Integrated Land Administration System Implementation Project, which is supported by the World Bank. The renovation was part of a program of support provided for the modernisation of the Croatian land administration and management system, with the aim of improving its efficiency, transparency and cost effectiveness.

"The most visible result of our joint work has been the enhancement of land registry services. Croatian citizens now benefit from reduced time for processing land transactions, and can conduct numerous services online. Fifty five percent of requests for land services are currently made online. The modernized system will also support the sharing of land-related information among government agencies to address key development challenges, including private sector development, climate change adaptation, and disaster risk mitigation," she said.

The World Bank official also expressed satisfaction that the World Bank was able to help Croatia in connecting historic buildings, such as the new Zagreb Land Registry Office, with modern and smart architecture and design through reconstruction.

"This paves the way for a modern and reformed judicial system and land registry, truly benefiting Croatian citizens and the whole economy," she said.

The World Bank has been a partner to Croatia for 29 years. During this period, the Bank has supported more than 50 projects, totaling almost $5 billion, produced numerous studies, and provided technical assistance to help strengthen institutions and support the design of policies and strategies. The Bank's current program focuses on mitigating the economic and social impacts of COVID-19, post-earthquake reconstruction, education, social policy and pensions, transport, justice, innovation, business environment, land administration, circular economy, solid waste management, science and technology, and economic development of the Pannonian region, the World Bank recalled in its statement.

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Sunday, 22 May 2022

Social Policy Minister Set to Strengthen Foster Care, Supported Housing

ZAGREB, 22 May 2022 -  Marin Piletić who became the Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy Minister in late April, has said in an interview for Hina that the priority of the social policy of this Croatian cabinet would be supporting children without adequate parental care.

Piletić said in the interview which Hina published on Sunday that the focus would be on scaling down the institutional accommodation for children and enhance fostering. To this aim, his ministry will launch a nation-wide campaign promoting foster parenting for the aim of child well-being.

The minister presented some statistical data showing progress in adoption and foster care.

Last year, 145 children were adopted, which has been the highest number in a year to date. So far in 2022, 58 children have been adopted.

The registry of prospective adoptive children has recently included 220 children that have met all the criteria for their adoption.

The minister also promised the streamlining of the procedures for foster care and for adoption, and underscored that the overhauling of the social welfare system is aimed at making this system more efficient.

The ministry is going to set up a working group tasked with analysing the state of affairs in  institutionalised homes and in providers of accommodation for beneficiaries of social welfare.

Concrete solutions will soon be defined, said Piletić underscoring the advantages of supported housing. 

Supported housing is typically defined as a housing service where housing, support and/or care services are provided to help people to live as independently as possible.

"Croatia and Europe have opted for the process of deinstitutionalisation, and this completely changes the principles of doing business in social welfare services", said Piletić.

"The process will take some time and the policy of deinstitutionalisation and strengthening social mentoring and other services in social welfare are some of the priorities of this government, and sizeable funds are envisaged for this purpose under the 2027 European Social Fund", he explained.

"We in cooperation with services providers and institutions are defining the best locations for the specialised supported housing and we can expect the employment of necessary staff in the coming period as well as the increase of the capacities in this form of housing", he added.

The minister recalled that the amended law on foster care had additionally strengthened the status of foster carers.

There are 2,500 foster carers, with a half of them caring for children and a half who are caregivers for adults, being eligible to higher allowances under the amended legislation.

"They are also entitled to grants to cushion off the energy price hikes", the minister added.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 1 May 2022

New Labour Minister Says Will be Best Collaborator to Unions Demanding Higher Wages

ZAGREB, 1 May 2022 - During a celebration of International Workers' Day on Sunday, recently appointed Minister of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy Marin Piletić said he would be one of the best collaborators of unions, which demand an average pay of €1,500 and a minimum net wage of €750 by 2026.

"I can promise that I will be one of the best collaborators in that," Piletić told reporters in Maksimir Park, adding that he would be more than fair with the unions and the happiest if those amounts were reached by 2026.

Referring to collective bargaining, which is also one of the demands unions highlighted during today's protest rally, Piletić said that groups working on Labour Act amendments would meet tomorrow already and that he would have something to say.

However, he claimed, employers are more than aware that they require quality workers and that there are many examples of collective agreements whereby employers meet employees half way and enabled collective bargaining.

He recalled that the government has decided the Labour Act amendments should head in two directions, first to implement European directives and then to draw up a new labour bill.

He told reporters that he would meet with unions this week already. "I spoke with union representatives today and congratulated them on 1 May. We said that we are here. We exchanged numbers and will be in touch constantly," Minister Piletić said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 28 April 2022

Parliamentary Committees Support Piletić As New Labour Minister

ZAGREB, 28 April 2022 - Three parliamentary committees on Thursday supported by majority vote Marin Piletić as the new minister of labour, pension system, family and social policy.

At a joint session of the family, youth and sport committee, the labour, pension system and social partnership committee, and the health and social welfare committee, Piletić said the priorities included the government's strategic plan goals, 100,000 new jobs by 2024, a 70% employment rate, unemployment below 5% and youth unemployment below 10%.

The goals include an average net salary of HRK 7,600, a minimum wage of HRK 4,250, 10% higher pensions, increasing the minimum guaranteed allowance to HRK 1,500 as well as accommodation capacity for older people.

"There is enough time until the end of the term to achieve that," he said.

Presenting Piletić to the committees at the start of the session, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković dismissed claims that many people refused the position of minister. "If you find someone I asked to be in Marin's place before I asked him, I'll resign at once."

The committees' opposition members asked Piletić about solving problems in social welfare, providing for older people, pension funds, fostering, and pension indexation.

"It would be totally irresponsible to promise higher pensions as of Monday or by the end of the year," he told Sabina Glasovac of the Social Democratic Party about indexing pensions with real price rises, adding that it is necessary to discuss the possibilities with the minister of finance.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Plenković Presents Šimpraga, Filipović, Piletić as New Cabinet Members

ZAGREB, 27 April 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday after a meeting of the parliamentary majority that he would nominate Anja Šimpraga as a new deputy prime minister, Davor Filipović as the new labour minister and Marin Piletić as the new economy minister.

Speaking to the press after presenting the candidates to the coalition partners, Plenković said all three had known for 20 days that they would be nominated, but the announcement was postponed until after the Easter holidays and the completion of negotiations with trade unions led by Labour Minister Josip Aladrović.

"They are the new generation, they are very young and I think six cabinet members were born in the 1980s, which speaks to the trend of politically rejuvenating the government", Plenković said.

The new ministers are expected to take office on Friday, after being heard by the relevant parliamentary committees and voted in.

Plenković once again thanked the outgoing ministers for their contributions.

He said new business challenges awaited Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić and that the ruling HDZ would support him for the position of central bank vice governor.

As for Aladrović and Deputy PM Boris Milošević, who are under investigation by the State Prosecutor's Office, Plenković said that if they were not proven guilty, the government's door would be open and that he was confident they might contribute to it in the future.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.