Thursday, 31 March 2022

Ćorić Gave 30-Year Concession for Hydroelectric Power Plant in Croatia to Security Company

March 31, 2022 - Telegram revealed that the Ministry of Economy awarded a security company with a hydroelectric power plant in Croatia. Ćorić gave 30-year concession to the 007 Miletić company through a tender that was announced on the eve of last Christmas and was not published on the Ministry's website.

Some entrepreneurs claim that they were ready to give twice the amount, but they simply did not see the tender. Despite everything, Minister Ćorić signed the decision to award the hydroelectric power plant to the company 007 Miletić for 30 years, reports

The Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Tomislav Ćorić, awarded a concession for the use of the hydroelectric power plant on the Jadro river in Solin to the local security company 007 Miletić, which was registered for the production and distribution of electricity three months ago.

This is the end of the tender for the award of a 30-year concession for this small hydropower plant, which has a capacity of up to 5 megawatts and which, according to Ćorić's decision, was awarded to a company that has not been involved in the energy business. The competition was out of the public spotlight because it was announced on Christmas Eve and only in one place, which is why there are now complaints about its regularity.

What has 007 Miletić been doing so far?

The company 007 Miletić, chosen by Ćorić, has been known in the security sector for years, and in 2014 it received a 30-year concession for filling water in Vrlika. The founder of the company is Nediljko Miletić, while his wife Zdravka, also appears as a procurator.

The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development has not wanted to answer Telegram for 11 days why Mr. Miletić and his company were chosen. While the tender was still in progress, they explained to Telegram that it was "based on the Law on Concessions and the Decree on the Conditions for Granting Concessions for the Economic Use of Water".

The competition was announced last year on Christmas Eve

It was also noticed the fact that the tender for this concession was published on December 24 last year, on Christmas Eve, and only on the pages of the Electronic Public Procurement Notice (EOJN). Numerous announcements about concessions can be seen on the official website of the Ministry, which is the grantor of the concession, but this tender, mysteriously, has not been published.

It was not in other media either, which is now being questioned by companies complaining about the tender. Quite precisely, the Law stipulates that such a tender is published in the EOJN, and it can also be published "on the website of the concession grantor as well as in other media." The Decree on the Conditions for Granting Concessions for the Economic Use of Water stipulates that “a public invitation shall be published in the Electronic Public Procurement Notice of the Republic of Croatia, and the day after on the website of the concession grantor”.

Appeals against the decision of Minister Ćorić

The Ministry of the Economy and Sustainable Development told Telegram that they respected the Law on Concessions when publishing, and the Decree on the Conditions for Granting Concessions for the Economic Use of Water when compiling tenders.

However, two complaints that have now reached the State Commission for the Control of Public Procurement Procedures point to a number of omissions. Among them is the controversial announcement of the tender only in the EOJN. One should not lose sight of the fact that this is a concession for as long as 30 years.

By the way, as a one-time fee for the concession, the Ministry asked for HRK 228,608, and another percent per year of the realized average price of electricity produced in each year of use. The Ministry determined HRK 14,288 in the tender as the minimum amount. Complaints about the selection of 007 Miletić point out that these concession fees are too low given the price of electricity, and that some bidders were willing to pay twice the amount. But they just didn’t see the competition. Despite everything, Minister Ćorić is signing a decision on the selection of a security guard company from Solin which has only recently re-registered for the production and sale of electricity.

Miletic's wife also competed

Telegram found out that in addition to Miletić, the companies Primula company, owned by his wife Zdravka Miletić, and the company Starac doo from Kaštela also applied for the tender. Primula company also registered for energy production and trade only in January this year, while Starac doo is not even registered.

How seriously Ms. Miletić entered the fight for the concession on the river Jadro is evidenced by the fact that despite the estimated value of HRK 228,608, she was willing to pay only HRK 56,200. The company Starac offered 300 thousand kunas, and 007 Miletić 265,200 kunas. As the commission of the Ministry determined that the offer of the company Starac was not correct, since the documentation was not properly numbered or bound, Miletić remained the only one who met the conditions.

However, the company Starac states in the complaint that the Ministry did not ask them at all to supplement or clarify their bid, nor to clarify it within at least five days, as prescribed by the Public Procurement Act. They consider the Ministry's explanation that their offer was not properly bound to be insufficient.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 28 January 2022

Deputy Mayor Says Solution to High Corporate Gas Bills to Be Sought with State

ZAGREB, 28 Jan 2022 - Deputy Mayor Danijela Dolenec on Thursday evening commented on Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić's accusing the City of Zagreb and Mayor Tomislav Tomašević of being responsible for markedly higher corporate gas bills in Zagreb, noting that a solution would have to be sought in cooperation with the state.

Ćorić said earlier in the day that Tomašević and his team were responsible for the markedly higher corporate gas bills in Zagreb, and not HDZ personnel, because they failed to procure it at better prices.

Tomašević said the former director of the City Gasworks' Supply division, Igor Pirija, who ran the division until last October, was responsible and that he was HDZ personnel, claiming that he did not buy gas at cheaper prices on time and that Zagreb businesses were in trouble because of him.

"The former management of the City Gasworks' Supply division made a number of bad business decisions that resulted in losses for that company and higher bills for corporate users. In the spring (of 2021) it signed contracts under which already then it sold gas at prices that were below market prices while buying it at variable prices. It created a huge risk and we see the consequences now," the deputy mayor said.

She put this in the context of the global energy crisis, saying that not only Zagreb but other local government units as well were having problems with gas prices and that a solution would have to be sought in cooperation with the state.

Talks are underway and the public will be informed of the results, she said.

Dolenec also noted that one should establish if the unfavourable contracts on gas prices were only bad business moves by the former management of the City Gasworks' Supply division or were harmful contracts for which one should be held criminally liable.

She also said that the city would cover the difference in the gas bill of the soup kitchen in Zagreb's Sveti Duh neighbourhood, which from the earlier monthly amount of HRK 6,000 has risen to 25,000.

"The St Anthony of Padua soup kitchen... provides around 400 meals a day. The city has financed soup kitchens since 2004, and in the budget for this year HRK 700,000 has been earmarked for soup kitchens," Dolenec said, noting that the city would make sure the operation of the soup kitchen was not jeopardised.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Ćorić: Common Day of Rest is Needed More Than Ever

ZAGREB, 22 July 2021 - Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić said on Thursday that the focus of amendments to the Commerce Act would-be workers and their families, noting that in the present time of growing alienation a common day of rest was needed more than ever.

Ćorić was speaking at a round table on non-working Sundays, held at the Croatian Catholic University. Participants agreed that a non-working Sunday was a "civilizational issue" that should be regulated by law, adding that it would not affect retail shops' sales, while some called for a further reduction of the 16 working Sundays annually as proposed by the government.

Ćorić said that the government would develop a new legal framework to regulate Sunday work in dialogue with the Church, universities, trade unions, and employers, making it a day for workers, their families, and friends.

Croatia is part of the western civilization, fostering the Christian tradition of keeping Sundays free of work, and these principles are embedded in European social values and constitute the social teaching of the Catholic Church, he said.

Ćorić said that people have the need and right to work, but they are increasingly becoming slaves to work. He cited the results of a survey showing that more than half of the respondents think that working on Sundays is a dysfunctional social phenomenon, while as many as two-thirds prefer jobs with non-working Sundays at the expense of lower pay.

This indicates that we are still a society that appreciates humane values, care for people and their families and that it has given the government the mandate to protect human dignity and social justice, the minister said.

MP Marijana Petir rejected claims by retail chains that their turnover is highest on Sundays and that they will make losses. Citing data from the Tax Authority, she said that the highest retail sales are generated on Fridays and that retail chains see the highest turnover on Saturdays.

Many studies have confirmed that Sunday work adversely affects workers' health, causing emotional exhaustion and continued stress, Petir said. As a minor exception, she said that farmers should be allowed to sell their products at markets and fairs on Sundays.

The chairman of the supervisory board of the KTC family-owned supermarket chain, Ivica Katavić, said that family shops should not be open on Sundays either, not even in the tourism sector. In 2018, his company decided not to work on holidays so that people can be with their families, and last year it decided to stay closed on Sundays. There were fears of what would happen with their revenues, but it turned out that their revenues were four percent higher in 2020 than in 2019.

The leader of the Croatian Independent Trade Unions, Krešimir Sever, noted that Switzerland, whose tourism revenue is three times as high as Croatia's, closes its shops at weekends.

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

Sunday, 2 May 2021

"Invasive Species in Croatia" Mobile Application Launched

ZAGREB, 2 May 2021 - One of the biggest ecological challenges today are invasive alien species which will be possible to track by a mobile application called "Invasive species in Croatia", which was launched earlier this week in Krapje, a community in Sisak-Moslavina County.

The application, developed by the Economy and Sustainable Development Ministry, was presented to rangers and other staff working in protected areas located by the River Sava.

"The information system for invasive alien species provides existing information on alien species in Croatia in a single, publicly available place. It will be updated, which is why the application has been developed, to enable citizens to report their observations," said Ana Ješovnik of the Office for Alien Species of the Institute for Environment and Nature Protection at the Economy and Sustainable Development Ministry. 

"This system will help monitor not only the number and appearance of invasive alien species but also trends in their expansion, and it will also improve management planning to prevent their harmful effect on biodiversity," she said.

Sandra Slivar of the Office for Alien Species underlined the importance of rangers who are among the first to spot the appearance and spreading of an invasive alien species. Their input, she said, helps plan the protection of protected species and habitats.

The European Union has compiled a list of invasive species, and on that list of 66 animal and plant species, 24 have been reported in Croatia.

Burdock, desert false indigo among invasive species in Lonjsko Polje

Among the dozen invasive species that have been identified in the Lonjsko Polje Nature Park, the most important ones are burdock, goldenrods, wild cucumber, and desert false indigo, which in the past 30 years or so has spread over most of the marshes in the park, or around 5,000 hectares of land, and the park management has so far revitalized around 600 hectares of land through donations.

"The Lonjsko Polje Nature Park has been battling invasive alien species for years. Participation in the Sava TIES project in the past three years has helped do a lot in the field of research, improvement of the legislative framework as well as in raising the level of interdepartmental and cross-border cooperation," the park's director, Marija Kušmiš, said.

Invasive alien species have a negative effect on biodiversity and eco-systems and some of them jeopardize the economy as well as human health, she said.

The spreading of invasive alien species reduces the area of marsh habitats of many strictly protected animal and plant species, it was said.

For more news about everything made in Croatia, be sure to visit our dedicated section.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Parliament:The State Commission for Supervision of Public Procurement Procedures Pays Into State Budget More Than It Is Allocated

ZAGREB, 8 April, 2021 - The State Commission for Supervision of Public Procurement Procedures (DKOM) received 1,194 appeals in 2019 and paid HRK 17 million into the state budget in respect of fees for launching appellate proceedings, which is 6.8 million more than the funds allocated for the Commission's work, the Croatian Parliament was told on Thursday.

The figures were presented by the State Secretary at the Ministry of Economy, Nataša Mikuš Žigman, while introducing amendments to the DKOM Act governing the rights and obligations of the Commission members.

The DKOM deals with appeals in public procurement procedures, grants concessions and selects private partners in public-private partnership projects. It has nine members, including a president and two vice-presidents, and they are appointed by parliament at the government's proposal for a term of five years.

The statutory deadline for processing cases is 30 days, and the Commission's average is 27 days, Mikuš Žigman said, adding that cases concerning the absorption of EU funding are dealt with in a shorter time because they are given priority.

The total value of public procurement is about HRK 43 billion annually, and between 47 and 53 percent of appeals are granted, MPs were told.

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


Monday, 7 December 2020

Small Business Owners Demand Urgent Reforms

ZAGREB, Dec 7, 2020 - The Voice of Entrepreneurs association laid a wreath outside the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development on Monday, calling for "urgent and brave" reforms and the replacement of Minister Tomislav Coric.

Cars and buses briefly blocked the traffic in the street in front of the Ministry as protesters lit lanterns and laid wreaths and flowers at the entrance to "pay their last respects" to small and medium-sized businesses hit by the partial lockdown imposed as part of government efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

They once again appealed to the prime minister to fire "the worst economy minister Croatia has ever had." They drew attention to the "intolerable absence of concrete aid and compensation" for all businesses experiencing a sharp decline in their activity. 

The association's head Hrvoje Bujas said that Croatia had lacked key reforms over the last 30 years. "It is high time we organised ourselves to ensure the implementation of key reforms. It is also high time that the reforms become the key topic for every economy minister and for every minister in the Croatian government, including the prime minister," he said.

Bujas said that Croatian small business owners were leaving the country in search of better business conditions abroad. He stressed the need for a better functioning judiciary, optimisation and digitalisation of public and local government, lowering VAT and scrapping various parafiscal charges.

The association's executive director Drazen Orescanin said that they had good dialogue with some of the ministries and state institutions, but not with the Economy Ministry. He complained that Minister Coric was not communicating with them at all.

Orescanin said that the present government should represent all people and not just voters of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party. If the party cannot find an appropriate person to serve as Economy Minister, there are many competent experts for this post who are not members of any party, he added.

At the end of the protest, two police officers approached Bujas and Orescanin and took down their details as well as the registration numbers of the vehicles that blocked the entrance to the Ministry building.

"We'll see what the police will do. We won't be surprised if we get fined," Orescanin told Hina, adding that this was not a protest rally but a gathering because protest rallies were not allowed in the present time of the pandemic. He noted that about 20 members of the Voice of Entrepreneurs and partner associations were present, which is in line with the epidemiological measures, while the rest were representatives of the media. They all wore face masks and did not violate any measures, he stressed.

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Government: Warehouses Are Full, Do Not Panic

ZAGREB, March 15, 2020 - Economy Minister Darko Horvat said on Sunday in light of the coronavirus epidemic that Croatia had sufficient commodity stockpiles in warehouses to last for a month in the event of a government intervention.

"I just got back from the field. The warehouses are full, any supplies that are released are replenished. We are ready for nearly a month if the need arises for such an intervention," Horvat told reporters ahead of a meeting of the national civil protection service.

He said that the State Inspectorate would monitor price movements for staples, and that if necessary, he would ban exports of certain products. "This is a process of creating tools so that we can intervene if necessary."

Horvat also said that "a sanitary corridor" was being devised to ensure medical supplies for Croatia.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry has adopted a decision on mobilisation and work schedule for health institutions and their staff as well as for private health workers within the public health care network.

The decision was prompted by the need to implement public health care measures during the COVID-19 epidemic, Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Sunday.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 13 March 2020

Strategic Stockpiles Enough for 30 days in Worst Case Scenario

ZAGREB, March 13, 2020 - Strategic buffer stocks in Croatia total HRK 537 million and are enough to supply the entire population for 30 days and if Croatia were quarantined, the necessary range of buffer stocks would be activated, the Economy Ministry said on Friday.

Strategic buffer stocks ensure the most basic needs during and after the initial impact based on the type of natural or other disaster and they comprise food and non-food products.

Food products are wheat, corn, rice, pasta, meat, canned meat and fish, bottled drinking water, whole day food rations, salt, sugar, oil, cheese, powdered milk, baby food, powdered eggs, jam, frozen and canned fruit.

Non-food products include oil products, container homes, water tank trucks, rescue vessels, water pumps, and hydraulic rescue tools.

Buffer stock warehouses are located around the country.

In early February, Buffer Stocks started supplying the Health Ministry with antiviral suits and masks to deal with coronavirus and delivering containers to border crossings for the needs of sanitary inspectors.

The Economy Ministry said the situation was under control and advised all the citizens to continue to follow the recommendations of the national civil protection authority.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 6 March 2020

Government to Issue Guarantees for New Ships at 3. Maj Shipyard

ZAGREB, March 6, 2020 - The government is prepared, under certain circumstances and strict control, to issue guarantees for 48% of the value of new ships for the Australian Scenic Group that would be built in the 3. Maj shipyard, Economy Minister Darko Horvat said at the Rijeka-based dock after talks with the Scenic Group's owner and the 3. Maj director.

Horvat, Scenic Group owner Glen Moroney and 3. Maj director Edi Kučan discussed the construction of five polar cruise ships with a total value of €860 million.

We consider that the agreement was reached about ten days ago when we accepted the mutual interest of the shipyard and the client to invest in 3. Maj, to rehabilitate the dock and build sophisticated ships, Horvat said.

The government is willing to assist 3. Maj under certain conditions and strict control, and issue guarantees at the ratio 48 to 52 per cent, which the client has agreed to, Horvat explained.

Horvat believes that that is a fair division of responsibility, with strict supervision and pace of construction.

Asked when would that agreement enters into force, he said at the very moment when a request for the first guarantee is received.

For the state, that means the continuation of shipbuilding at 3. Maj, Horvat said.

Asked whether that means the end of the dock's agony, Horvat said that he would not be that optimistic. The state, he said, has done its share and now the dock's management has to do its part.

Asked whether a car transport ship (514) that was to have been built in the Uljanik shipyard in Pula would now end up in 3. Maj, Horvat said that that is something for lawyers to deal with. "Once lawyers come to an agreement over the methodology, then the government will give its consent," he said.

He underscored that the bailout of 3. Maj has been planned on the basis of three ships being completed, which includes ship 514 being completed in 3. Maj on schedule. "With the completion of ship 514, we will be able to talk about the repayment of the loan of HRK 150 million which HBOR issued to kickstart 3. Maj and give it further prospects," he said.

Kučan confirmed that the construction of the ships for the Australian company means the salvation of 3. Maj. "We saw, together with the government, that we can survive on the global market by building specialised ships. We supported the owner of the Scenic Group, Moroney, with whom I already successfully collaborated in Pula on the construction of the Scenic Eclipse. We saw the right partner who can ensure our survival and continuation of production in Rijeka".

Kučan said the deal would not burden taxpayers. "We have received a loan from the government to launch production and with the successful completion of the ship, we will repay that loan," he underscored.

Moroney said that the entire ship would be constructed and equipped at the Rijeka dock.

Asked why he selected 3. Maj for that task, Moroney said that he did so primarily because of the people. One ship has already been built for Scenic, nearly the entire team is from this region and Croatia, he said and added that shipyards without the people and their experience don't mean anything.

Asked whether he would be prepared to be a strategic partner in 3. Maj, Moroney said that it is necessary to see how things develop and to take one step at a time.

We want to build many more ships. For now, the plan is five. The ships need to be completed on time and within budget and in accordance with agreements. If that happens, then who knows, he said.

More news about Croatian shipyards can be found in the Business section.

Friday, 28 February 2020

Horvat Chairs Competitiveness Council Meeting in Brussels

ZAGREB, Feb 28, 2020 - Croatian Economy Minister Darko Horvat chaired a meeting of the Competitiveness Council in Brussels on Thursday for the first time, as part of Croatia's presidency of the Council of the EU, which discussed matters of immediate importance for the EU economy, the ministry said in a press release.

Commissioner Thierry Breton reported on the impact of coronavirus on the EU economy and the measures that have been taken. He underlined how important it is that the Commission and the member states continue to exchange information and coordinate action at both EU and national levels in order to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and limit its impact on the economy.

Also discussed was the European Green Deal, the switch to a circular economy and the Union's ambition to become the first self-sufficient continent by 2050.

"Without a modern industry, it won't be possible to reshape our society for a sustainable, climate neutral and digital future. That's why we need considerable investment in all of Europe, and it's crucial that we continue to promote new forms of cooperation with industry and put special emphasis on investment in strategic value chains," said Horvat.

Also discussed were the findings of a report on the effectiveness of the single market, and the Council unanimously adopted conclusions on better regulations.

Horvat underlined the importance of better regulations in removing administrative barriers for businesses and facilitating doing business in all of the EU, as well as of including the interested public in the legislative process with a view to ensuring sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

The informal part of the meeting discussed artificial intelligence.

More news about Croatia and the EU can be found in the Politics section.

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