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, 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.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Opposition Parties File Motion of No Confidence in Health Minister Vili Beroš

ZAGREB, 4 May, 2021 - Parliamentary opposition parties have filed a joint motion for a vote of no confidence in Health Minister Vili Beroš over the accumulated problems in the healthcare sector and scandals related to the minister, Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Peđa Grbin said on Tuesday.

"The reasons for this move are clear to all citizens - the accumulated debts in the healthcare system resulted in the suspension of deliveries of medicines to hospitals at the height of the pandemic. There are also huge problems with the vaccination system, and we have learned of favourable treatment in the development of the cijepise.hr vaccination registration system," Grbin said.

"The development of this non-functioning system was awarded to people connected with Minister Beroš. There are also suspicious public procurement procedures at the Health Ministry such as one where IT services were awarded to a florist and tenders were fixed for former HDZ health ministers Andrija Hebrang and Neven Ljubičić, which have been cancelled but only after media started writing about them," he added.

"The Health Ministry is simply not functioning. There are no reforms, and the extent to which this affects people's lives could best be seen in a recent case at the Clinic for Tumors where citizens suffering from malignant diseases could not receive adequate care," Grbin said, naming Beroš as the person most responsible for this.

"We want Beroš to go because right now he has done nothing positive for the healthcare system, and all the negative things he has done pose a direct threat to people's health and lives," the SDP leader said. "His departure, however, will not be enough and we will all have to come to grips with the accumulated problems together."

Grbin said that a discussion on Beroš must be held within 30 days, and whether it will be held before or after the 16 May local elections "depends on Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković."

The initiative was signed by all opposition groups in parliament except the Croatian Sovereignists, but they have announced that they will vote in favour Beroš's resignation, Grbin said.

MOST's Nikola Grmoja said that his party had been warning for a long time about the problems faced by the healthcare system, including huge debts to drug wholesalers and long waiting lists.

"Beroš, of course, is not the only one to blame, the whole government is responsible. With our signatures we also want to encourage a reform of the healthcare system. All of us in the opposition agree that changes are necessary and should be launched urgently," Grmoja noted.

Sandra Benčić of the green-left We Can! platform said that they supported all the reasons for a no-confidence vote in Beroš, but stressed that the responsibility for the crisis in the healthcare system and the poor management of the coronavirus pandemic mostly lay with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

"None of the ministers, and certainly not Minister Beroš, makes decisions on their own. They were not chosen as competent persons in their departments but were chosen based on their loyalty to the prime minister who ultimately makes all decisions. The prime minister cannot be exonerated by his purported unawareness of the scandals for which we seek Beroš's resignation. That's why we ask whether the country can be run by a prime minister who does not know or who does not get key information," Benčić said.

Homeland Movement MP Stjepo Bartulica said that the Croatian healthcare system was too politicised. "There are countless problems and the possible resignation of Minister Beroš will not change things much. We have insisted from the start that the healthcare system should be governed by market principles because now we don't see any mechanisms that will bring about change to the system as this government resists structural reforms," he said.

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

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Croatia Will Get More Money For Agriculture Than Before, State Secretary Says

ZAGREB, 29 April, 2021 - Opposition MPs were not impressed by the announcement by the state secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture that more funds have been allocated for Croatian agriculture in the next EU budget period than in the previous one, saying on Thursday that the situation in this sector was catastrophic.

"The situation in agriculture is catastrophic. The number of producers, milk suppliers, is falling, and there are fewer and fewer products made by our own producers that meet our needs," MP Marina Grman Kizivat of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) said, asking about the veracity of the information that Croatia would receive less money from EU funds for agriculture than before.

State Secretary Tugomir Majdak said that there would be more money for Croatian farmers in the period until 2027 than there had been in the period until 2020, adding that in the next budget period €2.6 billion would be available for direct payments, compared to €1.57 billion in the previous period.

The opposition used the proposed amendments to the Agriculture Act to draw attention to key problems in the sector, such as aid.

Željko Pavić (SDP) said that the problem was that aid was granted per hectare. "Some farmers have been granted the lease of thousands of hectares of karst pasture. They earn huge amounts of money without having livestock of their own," he said.

Majdak responded by saying that the state aid scheme was transparent, based on tenders and criteria in accordance with EU rules.

Responding to a question put by independent MP Marijana Petir, Majdak said that work was under way to improve the aid system and gear it towards small farmers.

Small farmers will be the priority of future measures, both the Agricultural Strategy until 2030 and the Strategic Plan until 2027, and other vulnerable groups, such as women in rural areas, will also be included, Majdak said, adding that the strategy is expected to be sent to the government in the second quarter of this year.

"In the next programme period we will ensure that young farmers get 100% support for investments of up to €100,000," he said in response to a question from Ankica Zmajić of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

Petir recalled that Croatia should prepare the National Strategic Plan by November, adding that the European Commission had made 13 recommendations for this plan, detected its good points and found that 20% of agricultural holdings owned 75% of farmland and received 77% of aid.

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

 

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Željko Reiner: "Opposition's Motion to Impeach Beroš Won't Succeed"

ZAGREB, 28 April, 2021 - Deputy Parliament Speaker Željko Reiner (HDZ) said on Wednesday that the opposition's motion to replace Health Minister Vili Beroš will not succeed just as previous motions to impeach ministers did not.

"Today, I heard that the opposition will submit a motion on 4 or 5 May to impeach Minister Beroš. Just like all the previous motions to impeach ministers, this one won't succeed either," said Reiner.

Reiner announced that he would put the motion for a no confidence vote on the Parliament's agenda within the deadline foreseen in the Standing Orders.

Asked whether Beroš can make order in the process of vaccination, Reiner said that it would be put in order in the shortest time possible and that sufficient quantities of vaccines had been obtained.

Reiner said that Beroš is doing his job quite satisfactorily and that he needs to be left to do it in peace to the end.

Asked about accusations from the We Can! party that paid seminars are held on information from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and that some ministers participate in them, Reiner said that any such accusations need to be substantiated with arguments. "I haven't heard a single argument. Those are empty phrases, like many others," he said.

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

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.

 

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Health Minister Beroš: "Problems Aren't Solved By Minister Stepping Down"

ZAGREB, 21 April, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš on Wednesday commented on an opposition motion for his resignation, saying he is not interested in keeping his ministerial position at any cost and that current problems in healthcare will not be solved with his departure but require a broad political consensus of all.

"It is the opposition's political position to question and criticise. I have never had any problems with constructive criticism, in fact, I consider it motivating. However, I have a problem with unfounded accusations and insinuations that have conveniently intensified ahead of the local election," Beroš said in a Facebook post.

The opposition, he added, has unusually focused on the health sector and him personally, who have been fighting against the COVID-19 epidemic for more than a year now.

"I cannot accept that because for more than a year now we have been intensively combatting the COVID-19 epidemic which cannot be compared to any other previous challenge. I am not looking for an excuse, I am just describing the current situation during which activities are simultaneously  being conducted towards restructuring the system to make it sustainable in the long run. The opposition's manoeuvres take us away from that aim and I wonder just how ready it is to support real changes in the healthcare system so that it can be better for all Croatian citizens," said Beroš.

He noted that the opposition had an opportunity to resolve the existing problems but that did not happen. "In fact, with its inactivity it contributed to deepening the existing problems. I'm not interested in keeping my minister's 'seat' at any cost, however, I do not have the habit of leaving an unfinished job. The problems in healthcare cannot be resolved with the health minister's resignation but through a national consensus of all political options," concluded Beroš.

Opposition parties in parliament on Wednesday unanimously agreed that Beroš has to go and they expressed readiness to support the Social Democratic Party's (SDP) motion for a vote of no confidence in the minister. The opposition said that the motion will be launched soon but that it will allow Beroš some time to think about everything that has happened in healthcare and give him an opportunity to step down.

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

 

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Opposition: Health Minister Beroš Has To Go

ZAGREB, 21 April, 2021 - Opposition parties in parliament on Wednesday unanimously agreed that Health Minister Vili Beroš has to go and they expressed readiness to support the Social Democratic Party's (SDP) motion for no confidence in the health minister.

"There is a consensus among the opposition that Health Minister Vili Beroš has to go," SDP leader Peđa Grbin said after a meeting of opposition parties.

Grbin: We are giving Beroš an opportunity to step down

The motion will be launched soon but we will allow Beroš some time to think about everything that has occurred in healthcare and give him an opportunity to step down, said Grbin.

He denied that the motion was being launched as part of SDP's electioneering ahead of the 16 May elections, saying that this had to do with the health of Croatian citizens.

"The man who allowed hospitals to not be delivered medicines, for the debt in healthcare to escalate and who is being connected to numerous wrongdoings in public procurement in the hospital system, simply cannot be the health minister," underscored Grbin.

Grbin said that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković should think carefully in future about his criteria when selecting cabinet ministers.

Sandra Benčić of the Green-Left bloc said that she supports the no-confidence motion against Beroš but that Plenković too should be held responsible, who in the end is responsible for the entire situation in healthcare.

"It's clear that the prime minister will fervently defend his minister and then a month or two later when it is more politically opportune, he will call for his resignation. That is the prime minister's modus operandi. He expends people and then throws them out like an old rag and covers up his bad decisions with them," said Benčić.

Benčić: Opposition will prepare an expert analysis

She announced that in preparing the no-confidence motion, the opposition will prepare an expert analysis regarding access to therapy, medicines, the way the system is managed and of the Cijepise (Get vaccinated) application.

"Spending money in healthcare that way during the greatest ever crisis is equal to war profiteering," she claimed.

She too denied that this is all part of electioneering ahead of the local election.

Stephen Nikola Bartulica of the Homeland Movement said (DP) said that: "we are opening important topics and it is up to the prime minister to make serious moves. Instead of being a statesman and making courageous decisions he is a 'spin doctor' in Government House and releases cheap spins to the public every day."

The healthcare system is not being managed well and that practice has to change and reforms need to be urgently implemented, he added.

Hrelja: HSU supports motion to oust Beroš

Silvano Hrelja of the Pensioners' Party (HSU) said that the party supports the motion to oust Beroš, denying speculation that HSU would join the ruling majority.

"Cooperation on projects exists but there is no coalition there," said Hrelja.

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.

 

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