Saturday, 25 September 2021

Two Schools in Earthquake-Hit Banovina Region to Be Rebuilt With World Bank Loan

ZAGREB, 25 Sept, 2021 - Two schools in the earthquake-struck Banovina region will be built anew with the help of a World Bank loan, the Construction, Physical Planning and State Assets Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

Minister Darko Horvat met earlier this week with visiting World Bank Country Manager for Croatia and Slovenia Jehan Arulpragasam, and the main reason for his visit was a $200 million loan Croatia was given by the World Bank for post-earthquake reconstruction and recovery in the area of Zagreb, hit by a 5.5 earthquake on 22 March 2020, and for strengthening the capacity of the public health system amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Key data on the project and its progress as well as challenges Croatia has been facing in the process of reconstruction were presented at the meeting.

The meeting also focused on Minister Horvat's proposal that the loan should also refer to the construction of two new secondary schools, in Sisak and Petrinja, towns in Sisak-Moslavina County, which was hit by a 6.2 earthquake on 29 December 2020.

Horvat said the meeting discussed the use of resources made available to Croatia to build two schools in Sisak-Moslavina County so as to create conditions for the safe and sustainable education of children in the earthquake-affected area.

Along with the reconstruction of houses and buildings, the reconstruction and construction of schools and medical facilities is one of our main priorities, the minister said.

The meeting was held as part of a five-day working visit of World Bank officials, who visited locations and facilities in Zagreb and in Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac counties most affected by the earthquake, whose reconstruction is to be financed with the World Bank loan.

The 22 March 2020 earthquake in Zagreb and its surroundings is estimated to have caused damage to buildings in the amount of some HRK 86 billion, which is more than 60% of the state budget.

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Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Minister Says Quake Damage Estimated at 5.52 Billion Euro

ZAGREB, April 22, 2020 - Construction and Physical Planning Minister Predrag Štromar said on Wednesday that the damage caused by the quake that struck Zagreb and its environs on March 22 had been estimated at 42 billion kuna.

Experts from Zagreb's Civil Engineering Faculty have made five estimates of the damage and chosen the one they think is the most realistic, Štromar said in an interview with Croatian Television.

He said that work on a law to regulate the reconstruction of residential and other buildings damaged in the quake was nearing completion and noted that buildings would be built to accommodate people left without their homes in the quake and that after their flats were rebuilt, those buildings would be used as student dormitories.

Štromar said that money for reconstruction would be sought from the European Commission and World Bank, that a donor conference would be held but that some of the money would have to come from budget reserves as well.

Rebuilding chimneys and restoring heating and hot water is the top priority at the moment, to be followed by the reconstruction of schools, hospitals and other buildings, said the minister.

As for family houses, the minister said that those that were beyond repair would be torn down and that the ministry would help rebuild them.

More news about the earthquake can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 13 April 2020

Bill on Post-Quake Reconstruction of Zagreb Will Be Complex

ZAGREB, April 13, 2020 - The bill on the reconstruction of Zagreb after the March 22 earthquake will be complex because buildings in the centre of the capital are more than 100 years old, and specialists in all relevant areas are involved, Construction Minister Predrag Štromar said in a Croatian television current affairs programme on Monday morning.

"We must not and will not leave our citizens alone and that is most important," Štromar said, adding that the bill would be fast-tracked through Parliament.

He said that the Croatian Chamber of Civil Engineers, the Croatian Chamber of Architects, the University of Zagreb Faculty of Civil Engineering, as well as machine and electrical engineers, were involved in the preparation of the bill.

Asked about the time frame of the reconstruction process, Štromar said that a lot of residential and public buildings and historical landmarks had been damaged and that it would take a lot of time to repair them. He said that healthcare and educational institutions and residential buildings were a priority.

Asked about sources of funding, the minister said that these were being discussed and that first it was necessary to determine how much the reconstruction would cost. He said he counted on funding from the state budget, the City of Zagreb budget, the County of Zagreb budget, the World Bank, EU funds, donations and friendly countries.

"How the money will be spent is for the bill to define. Transparency is of paramount importance," Štromar said.

He said that intense work was under way to clear all the rubble, expressing hope that this task would be completed soon. In this context he praised the fire service for a job well done.

More news about the earthquake can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 23 March 2020

More Than 7,000 Buildings to Be Assessed for Damage

ZAGREB, March 23, 2020 - Construction and Physical Planning Minister Predrag Štromar said on Monday that more than 7,000 buildings would be assessed for damage after a strong earthquake hit Zagreb on Sunday, and that 150 civil engineers were currently on the ground.

"All buildings will be visited and all analyses will be made in a few days," said Štromar, commending the Chamber of Civil Engineers for offering volunteers.

Štromar said he did not have final figures on the number of damaged facilities and that reports were still coming in.

Following analyses, lasting solutions will be defined, but the current accommodation capacity is sufficient to provide for all citizens who cannot stay in their apartments, he said.

Štromar said that apart from Zagreb also affected by the quake was Krapina-Zagorje County where statics experts had also been sent, and he called on other towns to report possible damage as well.

The minister thanked the Croatian Chamber of Architects, which is already assisting in making projects for the reconstruction of damaged buildings.

The ministry said today that State Secretary Danijel Meštrić was positive for coronavirus after he was tested on March 20.

He has been hospitalised in Varaždin with milder symptoms. People who were in contact with him - five ministry employees - are in self-isolation.

More news about the earthquake can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

APN Head Fired Due to Controversial Purchase of Property

ZAGREB, January 29, 2020 - Construction Minister Predrag Štromar on Wednesday said that he would dismiss the State Real Estate Agency (APN)'s acting director Krešimir Žunić (Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ), after media outlets discovered that he had purchased a state-subsidised flat under the so-called POS scheme provided by that agency.

Štromar told reporters that he had submitted all the relevant documents in relation to Žunić to the prosecutorial authorities, who bought a flat in Zadar last year under the APN scheme which enabled him and his son to purchase the flat for a discount price of €975 per square metre. The scandal was uncovered by the commercial RTL broadcaster on Tuesday evening.

Last year, when he was deputy director of the APN, Žunić bought the property together with his son.

The so-called POS scheme for Socially Subsidised Housing Construction (POS) is intended to help young families and first-home buyers to purchase their own home in an affordable way.

Reporters also asked Štromar of the Croatian People's Party (HNS), whether he had reported his party colleague Slavko Čukelj, to the prosecutorial authorities, since Čukelj was the director of the APN agency at the time when Žunić signed the controversial contract and Čukelj signed the document on behalf of APN. Štromar however said that everything needs to be checked and that the procedure is being checked so as to see whether some other people from APN exploited the POS scheme to buy properties for themselves.

Later in the day Štromar said that the appointment of the new AN director could be expected on Thursday.

Commenting on the case concerning Žunić, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that the whole situation "is unusual as well as his (Žunić's) statements."

He also said that he would discuss the matter with Minister Štromar.

Earlier in the day, Transport Minister Oleg Butković of the HDZ said that he had experienced many things in politics, however, something like Žunić's case and his explanations was "a precedent." Butković said that he felt embarrassed for him and Žunić being members of the same party.

In a bid to justify himself and the purchase of the property under the government subsidised scheme by the agency he headed, Žunić said that he was embarrassed that he virtually did not own anything.

"What can the prime minister say about me, for God's sake. I'm useless if I can't help myself," Žunić told the RTL last night.

Several members of the national parliament on Wednesday described Žunić's behaviour as scandalous.

More news about corruption can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 11 January 2020

Thousand Socially Subsidised Flats to Be Built by 2021

ZAGREB, January 11, 2020 - More than 8,000 flats have been built through the socially subsidised housing programme (POS), an investment worth HRK 4 billion, and 1,000 new flats are to be built by the beginning of 2021, the Construction and Physical Planning Ministry announced on Friday.

The flats are to be built in the following locations: Zagreb, Zadar, Split, Trogir, Solin, Biograd na Moru, Bol, Cres, Krk, Kraljevica, Lovran, Osijek, Poreč, Vis and Vrsar. The maximum price can amount up to 1,319.64 euro per square metre.

Apart from the price per square metre, POS benefits include a credit line which allows a loan without a guarantor, with an average interest rate of less than three percent, minimal ancillary fees, and a repayment term of 30 years, or 31 years in case of a one-year grace period, announced the Ministry.

All Croatian citizens can apply to buy flats from the socially subsidised housing programme, but citizens who are not yet homeowners are given priority. All candidates must be creditworthy.

The Ministry notes that a ban on leasing or reselling flats from the POS programme which have not been paid off in full was introduced in the last bill of amendments to the Socially Subsidised Housing Construction Act in July last year in order to prevent misuse in the reselling and leasing of flats bought through the programme.

More news about housing in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Ministry's "Green Light" for Zagreb's City Plan Outrages Opposition, NGOs

ZAGREB, November 21, 2019 - Opposition councillors in the City Assembly and NGOs condemned on Thursday the Construction Ministry's decision to okay the changes of Zagreb's city plan (GUP), accusing "the Croatian People's Party (HNS) ministry" of violating the law.

The Opposition also accuses the ministry of being included in "a shameful deal" between Mayor Milan Bandić and the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

"This is a shameless state," said the leader of the "Zagreb Is Ours" left bloc in the assembly, Tomislav Tomašević, commenting on the Ministry of Construction and Physical Planning decision on the proposed amendments to the GUP.

"Minister Predrag Štromar has played a 'double pass' with Milan Bandić regarding the GUP and has made fools of citizens. Last Friday, Štromar pompously refused to allow the changes to the GUP and said that adjusting the amendments to the ministry's demands could take years yet four days later, he approved those changes," Tomašević said.

The chairwoman of the GLAS and Croatian Pensioners' Party (HSU) group, Anka Mrak-Taritaš claimed that this was a "coalition of political bartering," involving the HDZ and Bandić with his "cronies" and HNS, and the ministry's approval was the result.

However, Mrak-Taritaš underscored, the problem of citizens and experts still existed, who considered that the new GUP was not developmental for Zagreb but "wishes and greetings by certain people close to Mayor Bandić."

The chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) branch in the city, Gordan Maras said that the scenario of the deal between HDZ, Bandić and HNS was obvious and that the opposition would do all what it could for the amendments to the city plan not to be adopted in the Assembly.

Councillor Matej Mišić (SDP) announced a referendum regarding the contentious amendments to the GUP which paved the way for the development project dubbed Zagreb Manhattan to be built.

The Green Action, Right to the City and Association of Siget Residents said that based on the Physical Planning Law the entire process of adopting Zagreb's GUP should be abandoned.

More Zagreb news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 11 November 2019

Urban Areas Need New Green Spaces and Policies

ZAGREB, November 11, 2019 - Construction Minister Predrag Štromar on Monday said that Croatia's target would be to reduce CO2 emissions by 2030 and to improve its energy efficiency in urban areas with more green spaces and green policies.

Opening the "Green future for cities" conference, Štromar informed that a national development strategy to 2030 was being prepared with the aim of making the "Green Croatia" development for a better quality of living standards.

"We are working on the strategy from 2020 to 2030 on how to reduce CO2 emissions and how to improve energy efficiency and how to create better living conditions for our citizens," Štromar underscored, explaining that the focus would first be on large urban areas where new green areas and green policies can achieve those objectives.

"Until now most of the money was used for energy efficiency. Currently there are 1,400 building that have been reconstructed or are under reconstruction. We have warm and safe homes, more comfortable classrooms, teaching staff rooms and health clinics and now we are preparing the next objectives," Štromar explained.

He warned of climate change in the environment and the speed that it is occurring at.

"Croatia is still a comfortable place to live and work, where forests take up almost half of its territory and with a low population density which presents excellent natural conditions for human living. Climate change however, is unavoidable even in Croatia," he added.

"It is our responsibility for our actions to be directed toward sustainable development," he concluded.

More news about environmental protection in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

100 Government-Funded Flats to Be Built in Zadar

ZAGREB, April 17, 2019 - About one hundred new government-funded (POS) flats will be built in the Zadar suburb of Crvene Kuće over the next two years and an agreement to that effect was signed on Wednesday.

The agreement and preliminary agreement on mutual rights and obligations were signed in Zadar by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Construction and Physical Planning Predrag Štromar, State Assets Minister Goran Marić, State Real Estate Agency (APN) Director Slavko Čukelj and Zadar Mayor Branko Dukić.

Štromar said that to date 492 POS flats have been built in Zadar county, 436 of which are located in the town proper and that in addition 121 families have solved their housing problem through subsidised housing loans.

"Young families need lower prices per square metre, primarily in tourist destinations where housing prices have increased drastically and where it is more difficult to meet housing needs. This programme in fact will make that possible at significantly more favourable conditions than on the market," Štromar said.

He added that interest rates for POS flats would be reduced from 3% to 2% per annum.

Štromar said that so far 8,276 POS flats have been built in Croatia with 4 billion kuna invested in them and that the plan is to build one thousand new POS flats by 2020.

More Zadar news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

GLAS Party Leader Apologies for Omission in Declaration of Assets

ZAGREB, February 19, 2019 - The leader of the opposition GLAS party, Anka Mrak-Taritaš, on Tuesday apologised for her failure to state in her declaration of assets that she had received a remuneration of 38,950 kuna (5,200 euro) for sitting on an examination commission during her term as Construction Minister from mid-November 2012 to mid-January 2016.

This omission is now being dealt with by the Conflict of Interest Commission, after the case was reported to it in December 2018. Mrak-Taritaš believes that the purpose of raising this matter now is to smear her reputation.

The Jutarnji List daily reported on Tuesday that during her term as Construction Minister Mrak-Taritaš appointed herself the head of the ministry's commission for organising state qualifying exams and did not report the remuneration for that job in her declaration of assets. She issued an apology on her Facebook account for the omission in the declaration of assets.

Mrak-Taritaš said in her apology she is sorry to see that the issue has been raised now instead of as soon as she finished her ministerial term. She said she will submit all the relevant documentation to the Conflict of Interest Commission.

She said she had received a monthly remuneration of 800 kuna as the head of the commission for state qualifying exams, and that the reason for the omission was the fact that this income was paid by the ministry which also paid her monthly salaries.

She dismissed the claim that she had appointed herself to the post of the commission's head, adding that she and other members of the commission had been appointed by her predecessor in the ministerial post, Ivan Vrdoljak. As soon as she became the minister, she signed the appointment as the continuation of the commission's work, according to her explanation on her Facebook account.

More news on the GLAS party can be found in the Politics section.

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