Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Opposition MP Doesn't Believe There'll Be Anything of Zagreb Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 24 Aug, 2021 - Member of Parliament Anka Mrak-Taritaš on Tuesday said that it seems there won't be anything of Zagreb's reconstruction following the earthquake that hit the city 17 months ago and that the lack of goodwill for reconstruction is "the greatest shame of Andrej Plenković's government." 

Seventeen months after the earthquake, there is still nothing regarding Zagreb's reconstruction. There is no longer even any meetings between the government and City authorities. Damir Vanđelić, the director of the Fund for Reconstruction and Economy Minister Darko Horvat have even stopped debating in the media about who is more at fault for that," Mrak-Taritaš told a press conference on Tuesday.

As an example of what could have been done in that time, she recalled that the Empire State Building with its 102 floors was built in sixteen months' time, "and without disrupting traffic."

MP Mrak-Tartiaš warned that eight months had passed since money from the EU Solidarity Fund was paid into the government's account and "that Croatia is at risk of being the first member state to not spend that money within the set deadline and that the country might be compelled to repay it to the EU budget, while at the same time the government is using alibis why things are not being done, from the law to the programme of measures and the fund." 

The sole GLAS lawmaker believes that "it is absolutely certain now" that there won't be anything of Zagreb's reconstruction as that "requires the know-how, good management and will, yet there is none of that." She concluded that the fact that there is no will is the Plenković's government's greatest shame and sin of not doing anything."

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

 

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Government Gives Green Light for Adoption of Hrelja Amendment

ZAGREB, 14 July, 2021 - The government said on Wednesday it had authorised its representative in Parliament to give the green light for the adoption of an amendment to the bill amending the Pension Insurance Act, put forward by Croatian Pensioners Party (HSU) MP Silvano Hrelja.

In Parliament on Wednesday, the government representative accepted the Hrelja amendment, under which recipients of the lowest pension allowance will be allowed to work up to four hours a day without having their pension reduced.

The aim of the amendment is to encourage people entitled to old-age, early old-age, disability or family pension to return to the labour market after retirement and to improve their financial situation.

The bill will be put to a vote on Thursday, Parliament's last sitting day before the summer recess.

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

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

MP Jeckov: There Are Definitely No Segregated Schools in Croatia

ZAGREB, 7 July, 2021 - MP Dragana Jeckov of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) said on Wednesday that there are "definitely" no segregated schools or exclusively Serb schools in Croatia, let alone a segregated state education system.

Jeckov made the statement in parliament following statements in the media by "quasi-reformists of minority education," primarily the one conducted in the Serbian language and Cyrillic script.

"Certain myths need to be debunked," she said, including the one that Serbs in Croatia have separate schools and that they are being taught from textbooks from Serbia, based on the so-called Serbian programme.

"In Croatia, there are definitely no segregated schools, there are no exclusively Serb schools, let alone schools that are segregated from the state education system," said Jeckov.

The truth is that students go to school within the same building, that they usually go in the same shift, that they have extra-curricula activities together. The only difference is that members of the minority community are taught in their mother tongue and only if their parents decide so.

"Model A is used by the Italian and Hungarian and Czech minorities and they enjoy their minority rights to a greater extent than Serbs because their schools are registered as minority schools, unlike those for Serbs," she said.

She said that the Serb minority is not asking for more than others but it hasn't achieved the level of rights that others have, and that there is no alternative to education in the mother tongue and script.

MP Stipo MIinarić, of the Homeland Movement (DP) retorted that she was not telling the truth.

"Schools are segregated. Children are segregated from kindergarten age to secondary school. That is not good for Vukovar, the Serb community, the Croatian people, for anyone. Why are children being segregated?" he asked.

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

 

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Number of MPs Allowed to be Present in Parliament Chamber Increased To 71

ZAGREB, 8 June, 2021 - Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said on Tuesday that the number of MPs allowed to be present in the Parliament chamber at the same time would be increased from 41 to 71 following an improvement in the epidemiological situation.

A total of 77 persons may be present in the Parliament chamber at the same time. Given that government representatives and administrative staff are always present, we have agreed that 71 MPs can sit in the Parliament chamber at the same time, while others will be sitting in other rooms," Jandroković told the press after a meeting of the Parliament Presidency.

The Croatian Parliament has 151 seats.

He noted that wearing face masks would continue to be mandatory. MPs will be allowed to take off their mask when speaking from their seat or addressing the chamber from the lectern from behind a plexiglass shield.

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

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Members of Parliament Hope For Revival of Capital Market

ZAGREB, 26 May, 2021 - Amendments to the Capital Market Act, which are aimed at further aligning Croatia's regulatory framework with the EU acquis, were supported on Wednesday by both the Opposition and the ruling majority in the parliament, who expressed hopes for the revival of the capital market. 

This is one of the most complicated laws that summarises what kind of capital market Europe wants, said Social Democrat MP Boris Lalovac, warning that Croatia's capital market was far less developed than the European.

"The value of the capital market in Croatia is HRK 276 billion, 140 billion are stocks and 130 billion securities, the annual turnover of the Zagreb Stock Exchange is around HRK 3 billion while the turnover on the OTC market is HRK 27 billion," Lalovac said.

That shows that outside of the stock exchange and capital markets, which have strict rules, trading is ten times greater, Lalovac said, expressing hope this would change.

Grozdana Perić of the HDZ said that better oversight and regulation would enable further development of the capital market in Croatia.

She warned, however, that the coronavirus crisis had caused an outflow of funds from investment funds and that their value had dropped by more than 35% or HRK 8 billion.

That is one of the reasons for amending the law, said the State Secretary at the Finance Ministry, Stjepan Čuraj, who presented the amendments to MPs.

"If we take as an example the Zagreb Stock Exchange alone, during the pandemic in 2020 it dropped by more than 35%, from 2,000 to 1,300 basis points," Čuraj said, noting that there was room for improvement.

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

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) Warns of Problems Regarding Additional Voting Rights For Italian Minority

ZAGREB, 11 May, 2021 - Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) secretary-general Giovanni Sponza and MP Katarina Nemet on Tuesday pointed to a problem concerning ballots that makes it more difficult for members of the Italian minority to exercise their additional right in the 16 May local election.

Sponza said that in towns and municipalities where this is so regulated, as well as at the county level, deputy heads from the Italian minority are elected on separate slates, which, he said "is a novelty of the coming election because until now they were elected on the main slate together with mayoral candidates."

"In addition to being able to vote for candidates for municipal heads, mayors and the county head, as well as for municipal and town councils and the county assembly, members of the Italian ethnic community also have the right and can vote for their own candidates on a separate slate," said Sponza.

However, he added, in line with instructions from the State Election Commission, members of electoral committees do not have the obligation to offer a ballot with nominations for deputy heads from the Italian ethnic community but rather members of the Italian community have to ask for it themselves.

The problem is that a large number of members of the Italian ethnic community are not aware of that possibility, Sponza said, noting that stakeholders who set rules should make an effort to inform voters of their legal rights and possibilities and that by making voters ask for a ballot on their own, they are discriminating against them.

"We consider that unfair because all citizens should be equal in the election process," said the IDS official, adding that he wanted "to believe that this approach has nothing to do with the coming census in Croatia."  

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

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Parliamentary Majority Rejects Workers' Front Bill on Digital Services Tax

ZAGREB, 5 May, 2021 - The parliamentary majority on Wednesday rejected a bill by MP Katarina Peović of the Workers' Front party proposing the introduction of a tax on digital services, saying that Croatia advocated a global solution rather than unilateral measures.

"The government has from the start advocated a global solution because it believes that unilateral measures cause distortion in the EU market and disrupt competition, which is why it did not launch an initiative to tax digital services," Finance Ministry State Secretary Zdravko Zrinušić said.

The deadline for an international consensus on the matter was moved because of the coronavirus pandemic to the middle of this year, he said.

"One should propose a balanced and stimulating tax policy rather than a restrictive one that would reduce Croatia's competitiveness," said Darko Klasić of the HSLS/Reformists caucus during a debate on the bill.

The purpose of the bill is not to tax small and development-oriented digital companies, but only technological giants whose revenue, from the global perspective, exceeds HRK 5.6 billion and who have not suffered any damage due to the coronavirus crisis but have seen an increase in revenue, Peović said while presenting the bill.

She said that several EU countries had introduced such a law and that her party was proposing the same for Croatia.

"The basic purpose of the tax would be to ensure additional budget revenue, which would be used to develop telecommunications infrastructure in Croatia, because we know that the internet here is among the slowest in the EU," said Peović.

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

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Opposition Parties File Motion of No Confidence in Health Minister Vili Beroš

ZAGREB, 4 May, 2021 - Parliamentary opposition parties have filed a joint motion for a vote of no confidence in Health Minister Vili Beroš over the accumulated problems in the healthcare sector and scandals related to the minister, Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Peđa Grbin said on Tuesday.

"The reasons for this move are clear to all citizens - the accumulated debts in the healthcare system resulted in the suspension of deliveries of medicines to hospitals at the height of the pandemic. There are also huge problems with the vaccination system, and we have learned of favourable treatment in the development of the cijepise.hr vaccination registration system," Grbin said.

"The development of this non-functioning system was awarded to people connected with Minister Beroš. There are also suspicious public procurement procedures at the Health Ministry such as one where IT services were awarded to a florist and tenders were fixed for former HDZ health ministers Andrija Hebrang and Neven Ljubičić, which have been cancelled but only after media started writing about them," he added.

"The Health Ministry is simply not functioning. There are no reforms, and the extent to which this affects people's lives could best be seen in a recent case at the Clinic for Tumors where citizens suffering from malignant diseases could not receive adequate care," Grbin said, naming Beroš as the person most responsible for this.

"We want Beroš to go because right now he has done nothing positive for the healthcare system, and all the negative things he has done pose a direct threat to people's health and lives," the SDP leader said. "His departure, however, will not be enough and we will all have to come to grips with the accumulated problems together."

Grbin said that a discussion on Beroš must be held within 30 days, and whether it will be held before or after the 16 May local elections "depends on Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković."

The initiative was signed by all opposition groups in parliament except the Croatian Sovereignists, but they have announced that they will vote in favour Beroš's resignation, Grbin said.

MOST's Nikola Grmoja said that his party had been warning for a long time about the problems faced by the healthcare system, including huge debts to drug wholesalers and long waiting lists.

"Beroš, of course, is not the only one to blame, the whole government is responsible. With our signatures we also want to encourage a reform of the healthcare system. All of us in the opposition agree that changes are necessary and should be launched urgently," Grmoja noted.

Sandra Benčić of the green-left We Can! platform said that they supported all the reasons for a no-confidence vote in Beroš, but stressed that the responsibility for the crisis in the healthcare system and the poor management of the coronavirus pandemic mostly lay with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

"None of the ministers, and certainly not Minister Beroš, makes decisions on their own. They were not chosen as competent persons in their departments but were chosen based on their loyalty to the prime minister who ultimately makes all decisions. The prime minister cannot be exonerated by his purported unawareness of the scandals for which we seek Beroš's resignation. That's why we ask whether the country can be run by a prime minister who does not know or who does not get key information," Benčić said.

Homeland Movement MP Stjepo Bartulica said that the Croatian healthcare system was too politicised. "There are countless problems and the possible resignation of Minister Beroš will not change things much. We have insisted from the start that the healthcare system should be governed by market principles because now we don't see any mechanisms that will bring about change to the system as this government resists structural reforms," he said.

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

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Croatia Will Get More Money For Agriculture Than Before, State Secretary Says

ZAGREB, 29 April, 2021 - Opposition MPs were not impressed by the announcement by the state secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture that more funds have been allocated for Croatian agriculture in the next EU budget period than in the previous one, saying on Thursday that the situation in this sector was catastrophic.

"The situation in agriculture is catastrophic. The number of producers, milk suppliers, is falling, and there are fewer and fewer products made by our own producers that meet our needs," MP Marina Grman Kizivat of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) said, asking about the veracity of the information that Croatia would receive less money from EU funds for agriculture than before.

State Secretary Tugomir Majdak said that there would be more money for Croatian farmers in the period until 2027 than there had been in the period until 2020, adding that in the next budget period €2.6 billion would be available for direct payments, compared to €1.57 billion in the previous period.

The opposition used the proposed amendments to the Agriculture Act to draw attention to key problems in the sector, such as aid.

Željko Pavić (SDP) said that the problem was that aid was granted per hectare. "Some farmers have been granted the lease of thousands of hectares of karst pasture. They earn huge amounts of money without having livestock of their own," he said.

Majdak responded by saying that the state aid scheme was transparent, based on tenders and criteria in accordance with EU rules.

Responding to a question put by independent MP Marijana Petir, Majdak said that work was under way to improve the aid system and gear it towards small farmers.

Small farmers will be the priority of future measures, both the Agricultural Strategy until 2030 and the Strategic Plan until 2027, and other vulnerable groups, such as women in rural areas, will also be included, Majdak said, adding that the strategy is expected to be sent to the government in the second quarter of this year.

"In the next programme period we will ensure that young farmers get 100% support for investments of up to €100,000," he said in response to a question from Ankica Zmajić of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

Petir recalled that Croatia should prepare the National Strategic Plan by November, adding that the European Commission had made 13 recommendations for this plan, detected its good points and found that 20% of agricultural holdings owned 75% of farmland and received 77% of aid.

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

 

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Željko Reiner: "Opposition's Motion to Impeach Beroš Won't Succeed"

ZAGREB, 28 April, 2021 - Deputy Parliament Speaker Željko Reiner (HDZ) said on Wednesday that the opposition's motion to replace Health Minister Vili Beroš will not succeed just as previous motions to impeach ministers did not.

"Today, I heard that the opposition will submit a motion on 4 or 5 May to impeach Minister Beroš. Just like all the previous motions to impeach ministers, this one won't succeed either," said Reiner.

Reiner announced that he would put the motion for a no confidence vote on the Parliament's agenda within the deadline foreseen in the Standing Orders.

Asked whether Beroš can make order in the process of vaccination, Reiner said that it would be put in order in the shortest time possible and that sufficient quantities of vaccines had been obtained.

Reiner said that Beroš is doing his job quite satisfactorily and that he needs to be left to do it in peace to the end.

Asked about accusations from the We Can! party that paid seminars are held on information from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and that some ministers participate in them, Reiner said that any such accusations need to be substantiated with arguments. "I haven't heard a single argument. Those are empty phrases, like many others," he said.

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

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