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.

 

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

GLAS Slams Gov't Proposal to Restrict Sunday Trading

ZAGREB, 27 July, 2021 - The parliamentary opposition GLAS party said on Tuesday that a government proposal to restrict Sunday trading was "harmful populism and hypocrisy" by the ruling HDZ party, noting that the government had not thought about fair remuneration for Sunday work.

"(Economy) Minister (Tomislav) Ćorić of the HDZ and Prime Minister Plenković himself have been insisting lately on banning Sunday trading so strongly that uninformed onlookers might conclude that their government has nothing better to do. And they have been doing so amidst a pandemic and crisis and after two disastrous earthquakes," the party said in a statement.

It noted that the government was not thinking about how to ensure fair remuneration for people who work on Sundays in the retail sector.

"If the government were really interested in solving the problem, it would accept GLAS's proposal for fair pay for Sunday work, instead of turning it down several times," the party said, adding that its MP Anka Mrak Taritaš would again submit a proposal to that effect to the parliament.

"It is also interesting how the HDZ sees the development of Croatia's tourism - shops would be allowed to work 16 Sundays a year, which means that the government restricts in advance the tourist season to that many weeks," GLAS said.

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.

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

New Waste Management Legislation Will Make Bills Higher, Says Opposition

ZAGREB, 13 July, 2021 - Some opposition parties claimed on Tuesday that the new waste management law will result in higher bills for citizens and that this will in particular affect lessors and small entrepreneurs.

The entire waste management system is based on waste management centres which are very expensive and that will be evident once citizens receive their new bills, said MP Sanja Udović (SDP).

She claimed that in those areas where these centres have been established, citizens can expect their bills to increase by 100 percent. "We, in Primorje Gorski Kotar County can soon expect the end price to go up, that means the price citizens pay will increase by some 30 to 40 percent," she said.

MP Marin Lerotić (IDS) underscored that the new bill doesn't go in favour of citizens nor lessors or small businesses who have been categorised as non-households and will pay a higher price.

"Shopping centres will pay the same, minimal service, as will shoemakers, or camp sites for up to 10,000 people will pay the same as a family-owned camp site with a capacity of up to 12 people. Hotels with a capacity of 100 rooms will pay the same price as a lessor of a flat," warned Lerotić.

MP Josip Borić (HDZ) explained that the government was providing a framework for prices to be defined by the local government.

"The opportunity exists to reduce the price for those who need to be rewarded. It contains criteria that allow that reduction for enterprises to certain household members, you can make them up yourself and include them in the price list," he said.

Local government officials have to realise that their role in waste management will be more complex, constructive, creative and more responsible, state-secretary in the Economy Ministry, Mile Horvat said.

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

 

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Bill Regulating Family Pension Beneficiaries' Status on Parl. Agenda

ZAGREB, 6 July, 2021 - The Croatian Pension Insurance Institute (HZMO) said on Tuesday that the number of pension insurance contributions had been on the rise for five months in a row, and the number of insurees was higher by 3.54% at the end of this June compared to June 2020.

The government-sponsored amendments were forwarded to the parliament at the session of the Andrej Plenković cabinet on 1 July.

In May, there were 216,000 family pension beneficiaries, and most of them were surviving spouses whose average monthly pension allowance was HRK 2,096, which was below the average pension. For instance, in May, pension associations reported that the average pension paid out  for February stood at HRK 2,567.

The budget allocation for this purpose has been ensured for 2022 and 2023.

According to the government's estimates, this year, an estimated 1,100 recipients of family pensions can exercise this right to work part-time and continue receiving family pensions. In 2022, the numbers can rise to 3,200 and in 2023 to 4,100 beneficiaries.

(€1 = HRK 7.484635)

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

 

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

MP Sandra Benčić (Možemo!) Says PM Plenković Boasting About Salvaging Economy While Destroying Factories

ZAGREB, 30 June, 2021 - The situation at the Orljava clothing factory in Požega, whose workers have not received wages for three months, shows that PM Andrej Plenković is destroying state-owned companies while boasting that he is salvaging the economy, MP Sandra Benčić said in parliament on Wednesday. 

"The Prime Minister is boasting about salvaging the economy in the COVID-19 crisis while at the same time the state is destroying its own companies," Benčić, an MP of the Green-Left Bloc said, noting that the state's lack of interest in talks with protesting Orljava workers seemed to be an introduction in the company's bankruptcy to result in its partition.

Workers' Front MP Katarina Peović called for solidarity with Orljava workers.

"This is yet another case in which a company is being destroyed so that it could be sold," she said, stressing that Orljava was a state-owned company and wondering about the reason for the government's "irresponsible behaviour towards the company and its workers".

Croatian Sovereignists MP Željko Sačić stood up for Pula Faculty of Medicine Dean Krešimir Pavelić who was replaced on Tuesday after publicly stating his position on vaccination against COVID-19.

Sačić said he would request an explanation from the science and education minister and the competent institutions about why and under which circumstances Pavelić was replaced.

He noted that Pavelić's view was based on statistical and scientific data and that he expressed concern about side effects and harmful consequences of individual COVID-19 vaccines, adding that one should put a stop to "totalitarian and undemocratic treatment of different opinions."

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

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Opposition: It's Not Good That PM Plenković is Trying to Intimidate Media

ZAGREB, 2 June, 2021 - Recent frequent attacks on media, reporters and political analysts by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković were met on Wednesday with condemnation by opposition MPs, who called on him to accept criticism and on media not to allow to be intimidated.

Social Democrat Arsen Bauk said the prime minister had opted for the "attack is the best form of defence" approach.

"Some defeats at local elections are painful for the HDZ, notably the prime minister, because he chose or imposed some of the candidates. It is not good for the prime minister, who has both objective and real power, to try to square accounts with or intimidate reporters, media and their editors and owners. I hope you will not let yourself be intimidated by him," Bauk told reporters in the parliament.

Judging by their response, I can see that they are not intimidated, he said, adding that he was fascinated by Plenković's claim that rival broadcasters had colluded to devalue the HDZ's candidate for Zagreb mayor.

Stephen Bartulica of the Homeland Movement said that media were possibly responsible for the latest developments because they had been very mild towards Plenković from the start.

"I definitely support media freedoms and it is not unusual that media in Croatia and the rest of the world are leaning to the left, but I think that what is more important here are the so-called independent analysts who often have material interests and certain relations with political camps and NGOs and who act in public as if they were unbiased," said Bartulica.

The sole MP of the Reformists party, Natalija Martinčević, who chairs the parliamentary Media Committee, said that the prime minister was very nervous, which she considers inappropriate.

"Communication with the media must be civilised. We are all expected to behave that way and so is the prime minister. There is no justification for his behaviour," she said.

Most MP Marija Selak Raspudić said that media had been the PM's fetish for a long time.

"Let me remind you of his high school graduation thesis 'Means of Mass Communication' in which, apart from extensively quoting (Yugoslav Communist politician Edvard) Kardelj and Marx, he also says that the Party is the one to control all information in society. He then advocates some democratic trends and says that media should be democratised, but it seems that as an experienced politician he has accepted the principle that the Party should control all information and is surprised when he does not manage to do it," said Selak Raspudić.

HSLS MP Dario Hrebak said that every politician had their own style of communication, noting that the prime minister was evidently irritated by something.

"I, too, am sometimes unhappy with the media but everyone has the right to say what they think, I would not be a liberal if I thought differently," he said, adding that he believed the prime minister would mend his relationship with the media and some reporters.

aFor 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, 25 May 2021

Zlata Đurđević: If I Am Not Elected by Sabor, I Will Not Apply After New Public Call

ZAGREB, 25 May, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović's candidate for the Supreme Court president, Zlata Đurđević, said on Tuesday that she would not apply again for the post if she was not elected by the parliament because she did not feel the need to further participate in political processes.

"If the parliament does not elect me, I will not apply after a new public call by the State Judicial Council. I have put myself at the head of state and parliament's disposal with my competence, integrity and responsibility. If they do not support it, I will not apply for the position again. I have my vocation and job that I find entirely fulfilling and I have no need to further participate in political processes," Đurđević told reporters after a session of the parliamentary Judiciary Committee, which she attended as an external member.

"The Committee has made a very good decision and I think that all candidates should be interviewed because the Committee must decide on all candidates transparently and give its opinion," she said in a comment on the Judiciary Committee's decision to invite and interview all five candidates for the Supreme Court president so it could discuss their programmes.

"I expect the parliament to make a decision in line with the Constitution and laws," she said when asked to comment on the fact that she did not enjoy the support of the ruling HDZ party, stressing that she was not in a political battle and did not intend to comment on whether she stood a political chance of being elected.

"I was proposed to the post by the President of the Republic, I applied following a public call and I did not violate any law. I did not apply after the first public call just like many other qualified candidates did not. The prime minister, too, meets the conditions to be the president of the Supreme Court and he did not apply. He has his own reasons and I had my own. I did not believe that the head of state would nominate me. Also, at that time I was in the process of selection for a judge at the European Court of Human Rights and, simply put, I do not apply for more than one position at a time," she said when asked about disputes regarding her candidacy.

"When the President of the Republic offered me (the nomination), I accepted it, and that happened after he said that he would not back any of the candidates who applied for the position at the time, which means that at that moment the first public call ended because he (President) is the authorised proposer. After that, I told him that I was willing to apply after a second public call was published, and I did so," Đurđević said, dismissing once again the possibility that she had acted unlawfully and noting that the possibility of repeating the public call was created only following a subsequent decision to that effect by the Constitutional Court.

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.

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