Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ): "National Recovery Plan is Developmental and Based on Reforms"

ZAGREB, 13 April, 2021 - The ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) caucus said on Tuesday that the National Recovery and Resilience Plan was a developmental document that is based on necessary reforms and that its objective is Croatia's overall economic development.

HDZ whip Branko Bačić told a press conference in Parliament House that with that document Croatia received the highest amount of all EU member states according to its GDP. "And that is one of the indicators that one loves Croatia through deeds and not words," claimed Bačić.

He underscored that there is no strict difference between funds for the real sector and public investments because both sectors have to interact with the aim of developing Croatia's economy.

HDZ MP Marko Pavić explained that the plan relates to one-quarter of the €24.5 billion that Croatia has negotiated with the EU for the next 10 years, which is twice as much as Croatia had until now.

Pavić rejected opposition claims that not enough funds were foreseen for the private sector.

Croatia is near the top of EU countries with regard to allocations for the private sector, about one-third are direct allocations and more than half are indirect through public procurement, he underscored.

Direct allocations for the private sector in Spain, Portugal and Estonia, for example, are at 30%, in Lithuania between 10 to 20 percent and nothing in Germany, he added.

Pavić: Government is open to suggestions and constructive proposals from the Opposition

Andrej Plenković's government has shown that it knows how to obtain funds and that it has the creativity and know-how to use those funds, claimed Pavić and added that the government is open to any suggestions and constructive proposals from the Opposition.

Referring to the one-off COVID supplement for pensioners that the government announced on Monday, Bačić denied that this was a pre-election move. "Any measure can be considered to be a pre-election move regardless of when it adopted... The COVID supplement has occurred now when the government reached an agreement with its partners," he said.

Bačić commented on the initiative for stricter penalties for Ustasha symbols, reiterating that the HDZ advocates a comprehensive rule for the use of symbols of all totalitarian regimes.

Defending the use of symbols of just some totalitarian regimes opens new ideological debates and arguments that do not contribute to anything, and the only way to approach the matter is to have an equal distancing from all undemocratic totalitarian regimes, he said.

The use of the 'For the Homeland Ready' needs to be banned except when wartime units commemorate events in which their fellow fighters were killed, he added.

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

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Two Opposition MPs Accuse Gov't of Vaccination Delays

ZAGREB, 24 March (Hina) - Andreja Marić of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Rada Borić of the New Left party on Wednesday critcised the Croatian government as well as the European Commission over procrastination in administering COVID-19 vaccines.

Addressing the national parliament, Andreja Marić said that the Croatian government failed this test.

Until three days ago, a mere 470,000 doses of all vaccine producers were delivered to Croatia, which is only 14 doses per 100 inhabitants, Marić said.

To date, 358,000 doses have been administered, and 8.9% of citizens have received one shot so far of the two-dose vaccine and 2.2% have been inoculated with both doses. Only Bulgaria and Latvia have fared worse than Croatia in the European Union, she said.

Marić insists that delays in coronavirus vaccine deliveries are not the result of the unjust distribution inside the European Union but a consequence of Croatia's wrong decision to rely on AstraZeneca vaccines at the beginning.

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

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Opposition Says Bill on Seeds Harmful

ZAGREB, 24 March, 2021 - Opposition deputies, notably those form the Bridge party, said on Wednesday that the bill on seeds and seed materials was harmful and that it would impose new costs, asking that the agriculture minister address the parliament with regard to the bill.

Bridge MP Miro Bulj called on members of the parliamentary majority not to support the bill, describing it as harmful.

"Instead of protecting our own seeds, we are imposing on hundreds of thousands of people who live in rural areas new costs related to seed processing. Who will be able to pay for that?" Bulj asked.

Bridge MP Marija Selak Raspudić said the bill declared war on small producers.

Social Democrat Domagoj Hajduković, too, criticised the obligation to process seeds to be planted on own fields, saying that it would cause new costs for producers.

The opposition also demanded an answer as to the reason for the introduction of a new category, farm seeds, which, they said, did not exist in the EU.

Other countries are not familiar with that term, said Anka Mrak Taritaš of GLAS.

We are introducing new terms and increasing costs for our farmers even though no one is asking us to do so, said Ružica Vukovac of the Homeland Movement.

The State Secretary at the Agriculture Ministry, Tugomir Majdak, dismissed the criticism, noting that small producers, hobbysts, gardeners and organic farmers would be exempt from the obligation to process seeds.

"The term farm seed is being introduced and that seed will have to be processed by registered suppliers to ensure minimum possible presence of harmful organisms," he told MPs.

Seed and the seed material are strategic products which must be available, safe and of good quality. The bill is aimed at regulating production, trade in and import of farming production materials, he said, noting that the bill does not restrict the use of autochthonous seeds for one's own noncommercial needs.

Specifically, in the case of seed exchange at fairs, production on small farms, seed exchange between individuals and groups, there will be no restrictions, certification or control of such seeds, he said.

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

Friday, 19 March 2021

Croatian Competition Agency Praised by Both Ruling and Opposition MPs

ZAGREB, 19 March, 2021 - The performance of the Croatian Competition Agency (AZTN) in 2019 was praised on Friday by lawmakers from both the ruling majority and the Opposition.

The report about the agency's activities in 2019 shows that the regulator settled 772 cases that year. The AZTN Council vice-president Vesna Patrlj today informed the parliament that while the agency was receiving more and more cases, it was faced with a decrease in the headcount.

In late 2019, it employed 52 workers and now it has two fewer employees.

"Wages are very low, while the work is very complex, and the training of employees takes some time," Patrlj said in her response to SDP lawmaker Andrea Marić who asked how highly educated people could be motivated to work in this regulator.

In 2019, the regulator issued HRK 4 million in fines and established the existence of two cartels, that is unlawful alliances of rivals, which is considered to be anti-competitive behaviour. The cartels were detrimental to consumers, Patrljsaid without specifying.

In one of the two cases, a user reported this unlawful association and in the other case, the regulator detected it after the participants in the cartel boasted of it in media statements.

Patrlj also called for promotion of the culture of market competition.

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

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Parliamentary Opposition: Additional Rights For War Veterans Unnecessary

ZAGREB, 17 March, 2021 - Some parliamentary opposition parties on Wednesday criticised amendments to the Act on the Rights of Homeland War Veterans, saying that they unnecessarily expanded rights for that group, while the ruling majority dismissed their claims.

Damir Bakić of the Green-Left Bloc said the bill was harmful as it introduced in more than one way additional and not necessarily needed benefits, both financial and non-financial, for war veterans and members of their families.

"That will additionally move them away from society and real life, as if we were creating a new caste for which special rules apply," said Bakić.

Under the amendments, members of the families of fallen war veterans that already have their housing problems solved will each be able to regulate their housing needs under the bill, obstacles to one-off financial aid are being removed, the scope of persons who are given priority in employment is being expanded, Bakić said, citing some of the examples.

Silvano Hrelja of the Croatian Pensioner Party/Croatian Peasant Party group said he had nothing against war veterans being first-class citizens but that he was against pensioners being second-class citizens, so he proposed amendment of the Pension Insurance Act.

"The existing law on war veterans is good and what is now being proposed should be scrapped. Too much is too much," said Hrelja.

He stressed that defenders and disabled war veterans were worthy of everyone and every generation's respect, without special privileges and benefits.

Social Democrat Martina Vlašić-Iljkić said it was not necessary to additionally expand veterans' rights.

"How long will this continue? 25 years after the war the status of war veteran and disabled war veteran is being recognised," she asked, noting that care for war veterans was good, especially if compared to care for other groups such as pensioners, the socially deprived and civilians with disabilities.

Marijana Balić of the ruling HDZ party said the amendments were not about additional rights but exclusively about technical organisation regarding the exercise of rights from a law adopted in 2017, expediting procedures for granting the status of disabled war veteran, housing provision procedures, social rights and adjustment of pension insurance-related rights.

Miro Bulj (Bridge) and Željko Sačić (Sovereignists) said that they supported amendments designed to expedite procedures but noted that they could not help but think that they were being proposed for election purposes, and their view was supported by Stipo Mlinarić of the Homeland Movement.

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

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