Wednesday, 28 April 2021

MP Says Citizens Will Replace PM Andrej Plenković If He Does Not Change

ZAGREB, 28 April, 2021 - MP Bojan Glavašević of the Green-Left Bloc said on Wednesday that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković "has a very serious problem with ignorance", and that Croatia needs a prime minister who is knowledgeable and that if Plenković refuses to change, citizens will replace him. 

"Instead of realising that he should inform himself about the scandals his colleagues are involved in, the prime minister insists on ignorance," Glavašević said, noting that his ignorance was being paid for with citizens' money and health.

With money, as in the case of a loan approved to former minister Gabrijela Žalac by two incumbent ministers, and with health, as in the shameful scandal with the Cijepise.hr platform for COVID-19 vaccination, Glavašević said, stressing that Croatia needed a knowledgeable prime minister.

"Because this one, who does not know, does not see, does not hear and does not want to know, see or hear, evidently lacks the capacity for his post," he said.

"This country and its people deserve better. If the Prime Minister does not change, citizens will replace him, it's only a matter of time and the number of victims of ignorance," Glavašević said.

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

 

Friday, 23 April 2021

Parliament Adopts Report on Abridged Version of National Recovery and Resilience Plan

ZAGREB, 23 April, 2021 - The Croatian parliament on Friday adopted a report on an abridged version of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NPOO) to 2026 with 76 lawmakers in the 151-seat legislature supporting the document about projects worth more than HRK 49 billion.

The 2021-2026 National Recovery and Resilience Plan contains project proposals in six areas worth HRK 49.08 billion. Its drafting and submission to the European Commission is a precondition for obtaining funds from the European Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) for the period from 2021 to 2023. Under the RRF, Croatia has €6.3 billion in grants at its disposal, plus an additional €3.6 billion in potential loans.

The main components of the NPOO are enterprise sector; pubic administration; judiciary and state assets; education, science and research; labour market and social protection and health. Apart from the five components, there is also the initiative 'Building reconstruction' sector.

These components are divided into 22 topical sub-components that list specific reforms and investment needs.

"This is a generational opportunity," Prime Minister Andrej Plenković underscored presenting the plan to the parliament.

The plan should help us overcome the crisis as soon as possible and reforms are essential in order to absorb the available funds and they are a constituent part of the plan.

All EU member states are obliged to present their national plans by the end of April and submit them to the European Commission. After the plans are adopted 10% of the funds foreseen for each member state will be paid out in the second half of this year. Croatia can thus tap €600 million in the second half of 2021.

The investments listed in the plan have to be implemented by 31 August 2026.

Opposition parties once again complained that they did not see the entire plan but just a shortened version and that they do not believe that the plan will result in recovery or resilience.

Parliament today adopted four semi-annual reports on the absorption of European structural and investment funds for 2020 and 2019.

If all four reports are combined, we agreed projects worth more than €5 billion, (which is 45% of the funds agreed to until then) €3.02 billion has been disbursed (which is 60% of what had been paid until then) and more than €2 billion has been certified.

A report on the situation in the territory of Croatia from 2013 to 2019 was adopted as was a semi-annual report by the Croatian National Bank on the financial situation, and a report on the work of the State Commission to Supervise Public Procurement Procedures in 2019 was also adopted. 

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

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Parl. Speaker Gordan Jandroković For Sanctioning Ustasha Insignia and Regulating Communist Symbols

ZAGREB, 22 April, 2021 - Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković on Thursday condemned the crimes committed by the 1941-1945 Ustasha regime and called for legally sanctioning the use of the Ustasha insignia and also for regulating the treatment of Communist symbols, including the five-pointed Red Star.

"We must make a clear distinction between the insignia of the Ustasha regime and the heritage of the (1991-1995) Homeland War and regulate the treatment of symbols of the Communist regime," said Jandroković after he laid a wreath in Jasenovac on the occasion of the 76th anniversary of the breakout of inmates from the Ustasha-run concentration camp. 

Jandroković called for consistency in regulating the treatment of the five-pointed Red Star which was displayed by people who committed horrendous atrocities in Bleiburg in the wake of the Second World War, on the Croatian island of Goli Otok during the Yugoslav Communist rule as well as in the Croatian towns of Vukovar and Škabrnja in 1991.

Jandroković said that he would like to see all those who participate in discussions about such insignia to be objective and to have understanding for the victims on all the sides.

"Croatia's history has been fraught with conflicts. Therefore, in all these years, no appropriate legislative solutions were found," he underscored, adding that Croatia's society is now mature enough to find, through democratic discussions, solutions that will protect each victim and deplore every criminal and totalitarian regime.

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

 

 

Friday, 16 April 2021

Parliament Debates Work of State Commission for Public Procurement Supervision

ZAGREB, 16 April, 2021 - The Homeland Movement (DP) on Friday strongly criticised the State Commission for Supervision of Public Procurement Procedures (DKOM), saying its head Maja Kuhar "built her career during the term of the (Zoran) Milanović government" and calling Croatia one of the most corrupt countries globally.

"The key problem with the DKOM is that its name does not befit it. It does not supervise public procurement procedures but only resolves appeals in those procedures," DP MP Daniel Spajić said during a debate on the commission's work in 2019.

He claims that many evidently corrupt procedures, like the one for the digitisation of the health system, were not appealed against and are therefore not handled by the DKOM.

Spajić claims that Croatia is one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

That would not be possible if we had a proper public procurement procedure, he says.

While other caucuses commended the DKOM's work and its report, MP Bojan Glavašević of the Green-Left Bloc (ZLB) said the report was a technical document without any data on effects. There is little information regarding the DKOM's anti-corruption activities and there is not one conclusion, description of activities, or recommendation, he said.

MP Marija Selak Raspudić (MOST Party) commended the report, adding that further improvement is possible.

A fundamental improvement would be to see how much state administration bodies had to pay appellants due to poorly conducted public procurement procedures, she said.

We also want a black list of public administration bodies which have made the most errors in absorbing EU funds and we want to know who the professional appellants are, Selak Raspudić said.

MP Rada Borić (ZLB) warned of the large number of procedures with just one bidder, saying this was the greatest corruption risk.

Social Democratic Party (SDP) MP Željko Pavić referred to the detail that there was an increasing number of appeals to documentation on public procurement and asked whether that problem could be resolved if there was a special department at the DKOM in charge of checking documents.

MPs from the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) praised the document. MP Branka Juričev Martinčev (HDZ) was pleased with the increased number of projects using EU funds and that the DKOM had handled these procedures well.

Systematic training necessary

Most lawmakers agreed that systematic training is necessary for participants in public procurement procedures to avoid errors.

In 2019 the DKOM had 1,365 appeals, including 1,209 new ones, which is a mild increase compared to 2018.

The majority of appeals referred to the selection phase (66%), however, there was a growing trend in the number of appeals related to procurement documents (32%), which can largely be attributed to a single fee to launch an appeal of HRK 5,000, regardless of the value of the procurement.

The DKOM's decisions can be disputed before the High Administrative Court and in 2019 that court quashed less than 3% of the DKOM's decisions.

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

Friday, 16 April 2021

MOST Party: Corruption Scandals Under Guise of Fight Against COVID

OSTZAGREB, 16 April, 2021 - Member of Parliament Zvonimir Troskot of the MOST party on Friday said that huge corruption risks and scandals are hiding under the guise of fight against COVID-19, warning of a new scandal regarding the Cijepise (Get vaccinated) application.

Yet another scandal is about to break regarding the Cijepise application whose design was awarded in a non-transparent way to a good friend of Health Minister Vili Beroš's, with details of the deal having been hidden for months, Troskot told a press conference in Parliament House.

"Huge corruption risks and scandals are being hidden under the guise of fighting against COVID," he said, recalling that MOST had requested that the procurement procedure for medical equipment should not be confidential.

There is an evident model where procurement is being segmented so it does not exceed the threshold of HRK 200,000 in order to avoid a public procurement procedure, said Troskot.

The Cijepise application is very important and should be helping citizens to get vaccinated yet instead people are being inoculated out of line, he said.

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

 

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Opposition Accuse Government of Trying to Buy Votes From Pensioners and Young People

ZAGREB, 15 April, 2021 - Parliamentary opposition parties on Thursday criticised the government's plan to pay a COVID supplement to pensioners and a tax refund to young people in the run-up to local elections as vote buying.

Arsen Bauk of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) told reporters in the parliament building that the government "has obviously sorted its priorities to ensure the best possible election result" for the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

"We support a COVID supplement for pensioners, even before elections. I think the Croatian democracy is mature enough and that this will not result in voters voting en masse for the HDZ," Bauk said.

Homeland Movement MP Stjepo Bartulica said that Prime Minister Plenković often expressed his disdain for populists. "I see a great dose of populism in the timing of this measure," he said.

"We are all equal in Croatia, but obviously some groups are more equal than others, especially with elections coming up. In principle, I am not against helping the pensioners, but the way in which the government runs its policies actually increases cynicism in Croatia," Bartulica said.

Bridge's Božo Petrov noted that the government had promised several years ago that the living standards and monthly incomes of pensioners would rise considerably, suggesting that the measures proposed by the government should remain permanent.

Bojan Glavašević of the Green-Left Bloc said that "the pensioners and young people, as vulnerable groups, need systematic rather occasional assistance."

Unlike the opposition, the HDZ's Ivan Ćelić disagreed that this was an attempt at vote buying for local elections. "Let me remind you that a month before elections the (SDP) government of Zoran Milanović gave away electricity vouchers of HRK 200, which can be seen in the same way as the COVID supplement," he said.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

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

 

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ): "National Recovery Plan is Developmental and Based on Reforms"

ZAGREB, 13 April, 2021 - The ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) caucus said on Tuesday that the National Recovery and Resilience Plan was a developmental document that is based on necessary reforms and that its objective is Croatia's overall economic development.

HDZ whip Branko Bačić told a press conference in Parliament House that with that document Croatia received the highest amount of all EU member states according to its GDP. "And that is one of the indicators that one loves Croatia through deeds and not words," claimed Bačić.

He underscored that there is no strict difference between funds for the real sector and public investments because both sectors have to interact with the aim of developing Croatia's economy.

HDZ MP Marko Pavić explained that the plan relates to one-quarter of the €24.5 billion that Croatia has negotiated with the EU for the next 10 years, which is twice as much as Croatia had until now.

Pavić rejected opposition claims that not enough funds were foreseen for the private sector.

Croatia is near the top of EU countries with regard to allocations for the private sector, about one-third are direct allocations and more than half are indirect through public procurement, he underscored.

Direct allocations for the private sector in Spain, Portugal and Estonia, for example, are at 30%, in Lithuania between 10 to 20 percent and nothing in Germany, he added.

Pavić: Government is open to suggestions and constructive proposals from the Opposition

Andrej Plenković's government has shown that it knows how to obtain funds and that it has the creativity and know-how to use those funds, claimed Pavić and added that the government is open to any suggestions and constructive proposals from the Opposition.

Referring to the one-off COVID supplement for pensioners that the government announced on Monday, Bačić denied that this was a pre-election move. "Any measure can be considered to be a pre-election move regardless of when it adopted... The COVID supplement has occurred now when the government reached an agreement with its partners," he said.

Bačić commented on the initiative for stricter penalties for Ustasha symbols, reiterating that the HDZ advocates a comprehensive rule for the use of symbols of all totalitarian regimes.

Defending the use of symbols of just some totalitarian regimes opens new ideological debates and arguments that do not contribute to anything, and the only way to approach the matter is to have an equal distancing from all undemocratic totalitarian regimes, he said.

The use of the 'For the Homeland Ready' needs to be banned except when wartime units commemorate events in which their fellow fighters were killed, he added.

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

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Green-Left Bloc, Homeland Movement Criticise National Recovery Plan

ZAGREB, 13 April, 2021 - MP Sandra Benčić of the green-left bloc said on Tuesday that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković was "lying that the National Recovery and Resilience Plan is completed," adding that it was an unambitious and incompetent programme which recycled 20-year-old reforms and projects.

Speaking to the press, Benčić said that MPs, who are due to debate the document on Wednesday, received only its summary because experts were still fine-tuning it.

She said the plan contained no links between investment in innovation and investment in the economy.

"The lack of ambition and incompetence of this programme is extremely worrying," Benčić said, adding that the plan would not help the economy and society to either recover or become more resilient to either climate change or other challenges of the 21st century.

Homeland Movement: Plan shows government has no daring for brave decisions

The whip of the Homeland Movement party, Stjepo Bartulica, said the summary of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan showed that the government lacked the daring for brave decisions and that Plenković had once again failed to adopt a serious strategy.

Bartulica said he saw no willingness for structural reforms and that the plan should have given more consideration to the demands and remarks by the enterprise sector as it was the one creating added value.

He said the plan also reflected no will to reform the health system, adding that the problem in healthcare was not doctors' expertise but how the system was managed and the monopoly of the Croatian Health Insurance Fund.

Speaking of totalitarian symbols, Bartulica said either all should be outlawed, including those of "communism and the totalitarian Yugoslavia," or that they be allowed as free speech.

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

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Bridge Party Says Investing in Public Sector Won't Result in Economic Recovery

ZAGREB, 13 April, 2021 - The Bridge party on Tuesday criticised the government's National Recovery and Resilience Plan, noting that investing in the public sector will not finance economic recovery but rather cause new scandals and clientelism.

"Each kuna invested in the private sector will yield a return of four kuna and each kuna invested in the public sector means a maximum return of one kuna, if the money is used efficiently, which in Croatia is not the case," Bridge MP Zvonimir Troskot said at a news conference.

He said that he condemned the stigmatisation of people who think critically about the National Recovery and Resilience Plan as "people whose patriotism is dubious."

Ruling HDZ MP Grozdana Perić last week said that those who criticise the National Recovery and Resilience Plan "do not love Croatia."

"Grozdana Perić and the prime minister's special advisor on economy, Zvonimir Savić, are not the only economic strategists. There are the Institute of Economics, the Croatian Employers' Association, the Entrepreneurs' Association as well as independent economists who are saying that the National Plan is not good," said Troskot.

"If entrepreneurs are again disregarded, we won't have money for wages, pensions or COVID allowances," he said.

Bridge against banning "For homeland ready" salute

Bridge MP Nikola Grmoja commented on initiatives to ban the Ustasha salute "For the homeland ready."

"As regards the insignia of the Croatian Defence Force (HOS), that is a legal unit of the Croatian Army. We are not for bans but rather for education and clear distancing from all totalitarian regimes, Fascism, Nazism and Communism alike," said Grmoja, noting that one should not link HOS with the 1941-45 Independent State of Croatia and the Ustasha.

"Banning symbols turns them into a fetish, and we don't want that," he said.

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

 

Friday, 9 April 2021

Gov't Rep Accepts Amendments By HDZ Party Group to Local Elections Bill

ZAGREB, 9 April (Hina) - A government representative on Friday accepted amendments by the ruling HDZ party group to a bill on local elections which ease previously proposed stricter rules for the nomination of candidates in elections and reasons for the termination of a local official's term.

A regulation has been eased under which a person with a final court verdict sentencing them to a prison term of at least six months or whose verdict has been changed to community service and a conditional verdict will be banned from running in elections, starting already with the May 16 local election.

The HDZ parliamentary group proposed that the ban should not apply to persons sentenced to prison for an unintentional crime, if their sentence has been changed to community service or a conditional sentence.

Also accepted were amendments that relax reasons for the termination of the term of a member of a representative body, municipal head, mayor and county head and their deputies.

If those officials have committed an unintentional crime and have been sentenced to prison but their sentence has been changed to community service or a conditional sentence, the terms of those officials will not cease, government representative Sanjin Rukavina said.

He did not accept Social Democrat MP Arsen Bauk's amendment under which those officials' terms would end also in case the party which has nominated them and on whose slates they have been elected has been given a final court verdict for an offence.

The government partially accepted amendments by the SDP, GLAS and Centre party groups under which the term of a member of a representative body, municipal head, mayor and county head stops on the day when they deregister their residence in their local government unit.

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

Page 2 of 4

Search