Thursday, 5 May 2022

Right-Wing Opposition Says Croatia Not Ready For Euro, Finmin Enumerates Benefits

ZAGREB, 5 May 2022 - The right-wing opposition said on Thursday that Croatia was not ready to introduce the euro and that it would lower living standards, while Finance Minister Zdravko Marić talked about the benefits and said much had been done to reduce the negative effects as much as possible.

A number of regulations reduce the negative effects of introducing the euro on citizens and employers, from stimulating healthy competitiveness to including civil society associations, Marić said in a debate on the final proposal to adopt the euro as legal tender in Croatia.

The benefits are significantly bigger than the damage, he said, adding that the main benefits are the elimination of the currency and interest risks, a two-notch higher credit rating, and a lower risk premium.

Marijan Pavliček of the Sovereignists said entering the euro area at a time of the biggest financial uncertainty, energy crisis and high inflation was not wise.

He said this was not an economic project, but the prime minister's political project, that inflation was 7.8% and GDP growth 3%, that consumption dropped, while inflation and the deficit increased.

Božo Petrov of Bridge said all independent financial experts said Croatia was not ready for the euro. He asked how the government would guarantee that prices would not rise even more, that imports would not take over and wages fall.

Marić said it was difficult to accurately predict or guarantee something even in more normal circumstances.

Ružica Vukovac of For a Just Croatia said it was not a good time and that Croatia's economic problems should be solved first.

Ante Prkačin of the Democratic Movement said that by introducing the euro, Croatia would move further away "from the fate of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who are subject to political terror."

On the other hand, Emil Daus of the Istrian Democratic Party said introducing the euro was a logical part of European integration. The problem is, will we be a strong economy and a functioning state with clear long-term goals, he added.

Boris Lalovac of the Social Democratic Party said the euro would have a positive effect on transaction and currency costs.

Zvane Brumnić of the Social Democrats said "our only chance is if someone else takes care of us."

Grozdana Perić of the ruling HDZ said the euro would make doing business more favourable and safer as well as facilitate investment, economic growth and higher living standards.

Marić reiterated that the Council of the EU's decision on Croatia's accession to the euro area was expected in July and that if all the requirements had been met, the euro would be introduced on 1 January.

He said Croatia met all criteria as last year's deficit was under 3%, the public debt-to-GDP ratio was reduced by seven percentage points and inflation was within the EU average.

Prices will have to be displayed in both kuna and euro as of 5 September.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

MP Says Government Must go Due to Lack of any Results

ZAGREB, 3 May 2022 - An MP of the Green-Left Bloc, Sandra Benčić, said on Tuesday that the Andrej Plenković government has to go, not only because of scandals in which its members were implicated but because of the lack of any results, reforms or vision.

Benčić made the statement ahead of a parliamentary debate to be held this week on an opposition motion to dissolve the parliament to call an election.

The MP said that in the six years of the government's term, the EU funding obtained under the first financial perspective had yielded no effects on key quality of life indicators in the country and that there were still no operational programmes for the absorption of funding from the new, 2021-2027 financial perspective.

Most importantly, there is no progress in reconstruction even two years since the Zagreb earthquake and close to a year and a half since the earthquake in Banija, Benčić said.

The government boasts about having managed to extend the deadline for the absorption of funding from the EU Solidarity Fund but is still not using it, she said.

"We will be late again and have to return the money", she said, adding that due to the lack of progress on any of the important issues in the past six years the government has to step down.

She noted that the appointment of Ivan Paladina as Construction Minister was evidence that PM Plenković did not have the support or the team in his HDZ party to check and propose scandal-free ministerial candidates.

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

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Opposition MP: Court to Be Asked to Test Constitutionality of COVID Certificates

ZAGREB, 14 Dec 2021 - Sandra Benčić of the Green-Left Bloc (ZLB) on Tuesday said that they had collected 34 lawmakers' signatures to file an appeal to the Constitutional Court to test the constitutionality of COVID-certificates.

"As we announced before, we are sending the request to the Constitutional Court to assess the constitutionality of the decision on COVID certificates, not because of its contents, or COVID certificates as such, but rather the way the decision was made," Benčić said in Parliament House.

She believes that all decisions that restrict human rights during the pandemic, which is deemed to be an emergency situation, have to be adopted by a two-thirds majority in the national parliament and in accordance with Article 17 of the Constitution.

"Had we acted in that way from the start, we would have succeeded in creating a better way to strengthen social cohesion concerning vaccination," said Bančić and added that the Constitutional Court is expected to be a guardian of the Constitution.

A constitutional request requires the signatures of one-fifth of lawmakers. ZLB has collected 34 signatures from the SDP, Social Democrats, IDS, Centre, and GLAS parties as well as the HSS and RF, said Benčić.

She announced that they are prepared to request a test of the constitutionality of the procedure to adopt amendments to the Law on the Protection of the Population against Infectious Diseases which regulates penalties of up to HRK 50,000 for breaches of COVID certificates which will be put to the vote in the Sabor on Wednesday.

"We want penalties related to COVID certificates to be decided by a two-thirds majority and if that won't pass easily we are prepared to request a test on its constitutionality because the bill will not have been accepted with the necessary majority," she said.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Opposition Says to Vote Against 2021 Budget Revision

ZAGREB, 4 Nov 2021 - Opposition MPs said on Wednesday, in a debate about a draft budget revision for 2021, that they would not support it because the expenditure was not transparent and the budget revision did not envisage the reconstruction of areas hit by last year's earthquakes or reforms. 

Sandra Benčić of the Green-Left Bloc said the budget revision was an act of capitulation by the government to the post-earthquake reconstruction of Zagreb and Banovina.

There were no plans for reconstruction, not even public buildings with unproblematic property-rights relations have been reconstructed, she warned.

We do not know if an extension of the deadline to use the money from the EU Solidarity Fund will be requested "or how much of it we will have to return because we will not be able to use it," she said, adding that citizens were not a government priority but the purchase of fighter jets was.

Anka Mrak Taritaš recalled that the budget revision was the second budget revision this year.

It shows that the coronavirus pandemic has laid bare all the problems in the health system and that it is not managed well, she said, adding that there was also no post-earthquake reconstruction or reforms.

The results of the population census will show how serious the demographic situation is and a demographic strategy needs to be adopted urgently, Mrak Taritaš said, adding that a possible solution was to hire foreign nationals.

Domagoj Hajduković of the Social Democrats, too, said he would not support the budget revision, noting that budget funds had been spent in a non-transparent way.

Siniša Hajdaš Dončić of the Social Democratic Party said he would vote against the budget revision because of poor expenditure management.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Božinović: Opposition Seems Not to Want Corruption Cases to Be Prosecuted

ZAGREB, 11 Sept, 2021 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović on Saturday criticised statements by some Opposition MPs following arrests in two corruption cases in Međimurje County. 

"I am certain that already the present and the future will prove their cheap political statements wrong. They seem not to want such cases to be prosecuted," Božinović said in an interview with Croatian Radio.

Speaking after the arrests of Međimurje County head Matija Posavec and Social Democrat (SDP) MP Stjepan Kovač, MP Nikola Grmoja of the Bridge party said on Friday that the arrests were politically motivated to "divert attention from the scandal in Kutina" involving the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party, while the SDP's Arsen Bauk said that the timing of the arrests in two unrelated cases showed "a skilful manoeuvre" by the Attorney-General's Office (DORH).

Responding to these accusations, Božinović said that in the first eight months of this year the police had brought corruption charges in 86 percent more cases than in the same period last year. "This means that the police, along with USKOK (anti-corruption office) and DORH, are fully committed to their work, and great changes can be seen in this regard."

"However, no changes can be seen in reactions from the Opposition. Whenever the police and DORH do something, the Opposition immediately says that it is politicisation. I cannot understand those people at all," the minister said.

Commented on the fact that one of the suspects in the Kovač case is a police officer, Božinović said that the police have zero tolerance to any illegal behaviour. Last year proceedings were launched against more than 540 police officers and so far this year against more than 320 officers, he said. 

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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Friday, 6 November 2020

Opposition Welcomes Changes to Parliament's Rules of Procedure

ZAGREB, November 6, 2020 - The Opposition in the parliament on Friday welcomed changes to the parliament's rules of procedure enabling, in the current epidemic, all MPs to participate in parliament sessions by sitting in several halls and following sessions via video link.

The chair of the parliamentary committee on the constitution, rules of procedure and political system, Drazen Bosnjakovic, said that the changes were in line with a Constitutional Court decision, making sure MPs were not denied the right to participate in debates.

The changes also enable the parliament speaker to authorise an MP to chair over sessions if he and all his deputies end up in self-isolation.

Vesna Nadj of the Social Democratic Party welcomed the changes, stressing that the freedom of speech was at the core of democracy.

Hrvoje Zekanovic of the Croatian Sovereignists supported the changes as well, stressing that the parliament was a place of political battle and the most important political body.

Ljubica Vukovic of the Homeland Movement agreed with the need to make adjustments due to the coronavirus epidemic but objected that party whips could speak on behalf of their parties 10 instead of 15 minutes while individual addresses would last five instead of 10 minutes.

Tomislav Tomasevic of the We Can! party proposed gradually filling more parliamentary chambers with MPs to more rationally use the parliament's resources and that sessions of parliamentary committees as well as thematic sessions be held online.

Dalija Oreskovic (SSIP, Pametno, GLAS) proposed that the decision on the expiry of the special work regime of the parliament be made by the parliament and not its presidency and that the duration of the special regime be limited to six months and prolonged if necessary.

Marija Jelkovac of the ruling HDZ party said that considering the current extraordinary circumstances, the measures taken so far had not been aimed at restricting the freedom of speech but protecting MPs' health.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Election of the new SDP Leader Have Started at 7 O'clock

ZAGREB, Sept 26, 2020  - The process of the election of the new SDP leader started at 7 o'clock on Saturday morning at 286 polling stations organized by this Opposition party throughout the country.

The election was called for 26 September after Davor Bernardic resigned following the party's defeat in the 5 July parliamentary elections.

The five candidates are vying for the presidency of the strongest Opposition party: Omisalj Mayor Mirela Ahmetovic, parliamentarian Pedja Grbin, Krapina-Zagorje County Prefect Zeljko Kolar, SDP Split country branch leader Ranko Ostojic, and an SDP official from Pula, Marino Percan.

Some 12,000 members are entitled to exercise their voting right in this poll.

The results are expected to be released on Saturday evening.

According to some forecasts, none of the five candidates are likely to receive more than 50 percent of the vote, and therefore first two vote-getters will compete in a run-off in seven days' time.

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