Thursday, 15 July 2021

Parliament Relieves Bačić of His Duties as HRT Director-General

ZAGREB, 15 July 2021 - Kazimir Bačić, who was recently arrested on suspicion of graft, was on Thursday relieved of his duties as Director-General of the HRT public broadcasting service by 116 to two votes.

The parliament also appointed the current Director of Programming Renato Kunić acting Director-General, and this decision was supported by 77 lawmakers, two abstentions and 42 MPs voted against it.

In early July, the HRT Supervisory Board unanimously agreed at an extraordinary meeting to initiate the procedure for the dismissal of Bačić after he was arrested.

USKOK corruption investigators suspect that Bačić, acting on behalf of businessman Milan Lončarić, took €50,000 in a bribe to the late Zagreb mayor Milan Bandić for the Gardens of Light project. As a reward for his role, Bačić is believed to have been given an apartment worth HRK 1 million (€133,300) in central Zagreb.

The parliament today dismissed a proposal made by Social Democrat Arsen Bauk that Kunić should be encouraged to withdraw HRT defamation lawsuits which the broadcaster had filed against some of its journalists. It was Bačić who had previously initiated those actions.

For more on Croatian politics, both local and national, make sure to bookmark our dedicated politics section and stay in the loop.

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Parliament: Family Pension Beneficiaries Allowed to Work Part Time

ZAGREB, 15 July 2021 - The Croatian parliament on Friday extended the eligibility to work part-time and receive a full pension to family pension beneficiaries.

The parliament amended the Pension Insurance Act by a majority vote, and the changes included the amendments put forward by Silvano Hrelja (HSU) whereby beneficiaries with the lowest pension will also be allowed to work four hours without their pension being reduced.

Beneficiaries receiving an old-age pension, early retirement pension, disability pension due to inability to work, or family pension who exercised their right by 31 December 2013 are entitled to the lowest pension in case of part-time employment.

That way, Hrelja explained, the material circumstances of those beneficiaries would also improve and they would be encouraged to join the world of work even after retirement.

The amended law enters into force on 1 August.

Farewell to plastic cotton buds, straws...

By a majority vote (with 75 votes in favor, two abstentions, and 43 votes against), the parliament adopted the Waste Management Act. When it enters into force, eight days after its publication in the Official Gazette, it will ban the sale of single-use plastic products, including plastic cotton buds, straws, cutlery.

As of 2022, a marketing ban on lightweight plastic carrier bags will be implemented, with the exception of very lightweight plastic carrier bags, and as of 3 July 2024 a marketing ban will apply to products with a plastic lid or stopper.

According to the new law, the state and counties, including the City of Zagreb, will be obliged to draft a waste management plan, an obligation they have not had so far, but local government units have.

The parliament also amended the acts on volunteering, on water, and on the establishment of the Hydrocarbon Agency.

It sent the bill to the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, on renewable energy sources and high-efficiency cogeneration, as well as some others, for a second reading.

For more on Croatian politics, both local and national, make sure to bookmark our dedicated politics section and stay in the loop.

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.

 

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

MP Jeckov: There Are Definitely No Segregated Schools in Croatia

ZAGREB, 7 July, 2021 - MP Dragana Jeckov of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) said on Wednesday that there are "definitely" no segregated schools or exclusively Serb schools in Croatia, let alone a segregated state education system.

Jeckov made the statement in parliament following statements in the media by "quasi-reformists of minority education," primarily the one conducted in the Serbian language and Cyrillic script.

"Certain myths need to be debunked," she said, including the one that Serbs in Croatia have separate schools and that they are being taught from textbooks from Serbia, based on the so-called Serbian programme.

"In Croatia, there are definitely no segregated schools, there are no exclusively Serb schools, let alone schools that are segregated from the state education system," said Jeckov.

The truth is that students go to school within the same building, that they usually go in the same shift, that they have extra-curricula activities together. The only difference is that members of the minority community are taught in their mother tongue and only if their parents decide so.

"Model A is used by the Italian and Hungarian and Czech minorities and they enjoy their minority rights to a greater extent than Serbs because their schools are registered as minority schools, unlike those for Serbs," she said.

She said that the Serb minority is not asking for more than others but it hasn't achieved the level of rights that others have, and that there is no alternative to education in the mother tongue and script.

MP Stipo MIinarić, of the Homeland Movement (DP) retorted that she was not telling the truth.

"Schools are segregated. Children are segregated from kindergarten age to secondary school. That is not good for Vukovar, the Serb community, the Croatian people, for anyone. Why are children being segregated?" he asked.

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.

 

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Croatian Parliament to Vote on Budget Revision on Friday

ZAGREB, 17 June 2021 - The Croatian Parliament is expected, among other things, to vote on the budget revision on Friday, after the opposition put forward about one hundred amendments.

The government's representatives rejected all the amendments put forward by opposition groups.

The government has stuck to its plan for budget revenue to be increased by HRK 3 billion to HRK 150.3 billion and an expenditure increase of HRK 9.4 billion to HRK 167.4 billion.

It is estimated that the budget deficit will increase by 2.9% to 3.8% of GDP.

The budget has been revised due to the consequences of the COVID epidemic, primarily due to problems in the health sector and debt to wholesale drug suppliers after all legal means have been exhausted to settle the debt with the reallocation of budget funds.

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

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

President Zoran Milanović: To Encroach on Human Freedoms, Necessary to Have Decision of Parliament

ZAGREB, 16 June, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday at the forum "Human Rights in the Coronavirus Crisis" that encroaching on the intimate space of human freedoms required a decision of the parliament, which he would have let it make if he were prime minister during the crisis.

Milanović said at the forum at the Faculty of Law that "in this crisis, we are not talking about human rights but about fundamental human freedoms."

"My right to breathe, to sneeze, to walk, to move - that is my human freedom. In order to affect that deeply intimate space, it is necessary to have a decision of a representative body," Milanović said.

In his presentation, he referred to Articles 16 and 17 of the Constitution and said that the coronavirus situation had met the conditions for declaring a state of emergency.

"Article 17... refers to a state of emergency, imminent danger of war or a natural disaster. It doesn't matter if this virus, and a virus is a natural fact and attacks a living organism, originated as a fact of zoonosis or was released by the Chinese or escaped from the laboratory, it makes no difference. That is a serious matter. It puts lives in danger. If that doesn't meet the conditions (for declaring a state of emergency), nothing does," Milanović said.

He added that if the coronavirus crisis had happened during his term as prime minister, he would have let the parliament vote in the relevant decisions, which would result in greater public trust, instead of having a COVID-19 response team do it.

Everything we watched for a year and a half was surreal, he added. He praised the fact that the vaccine was produced so quickly, adding that everything else was wrong.

Ombudswoman: Citizens had numerous complaints

According to Ombudswoman Tena Šimonović Einwalter, during the pandemic citizens had questions and complaints related to passes, self-isolation, access to health care since family doctors were not available to them and their examinations were cancelled, and they also sent questions related to the right to work, that is, to work from home or work in the office.

In the past few months, the ombudswoman has been receiving questions about vaccination and in the past few weeks, about COVID passports.

She also said that the frequent changes in the anti-epidemic measures and vague recommendations had led to an increase in dissatisfaction and fear among citizens, which had further undermined trust in institutions.

The ombudswoman said that there were solutions and that her report for 2020 had been discussed in the parliament, and now she hoped that the recommendations would be implemented.

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

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Number of MPs Allowed to be Present in Parliament Chamber Increased To 71

ZAGREB, 8 June, 2021 - Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said on Tuesday that the number of MPs allowed to be present in the Parliament chamber at the same time would be increased from 41 to 71 following an improvement in the epidemiological situation.

A total of 77 persons may be present in the Parliament chamber at the same time. Given that government representatives and administrative staff are always present, we have agreed that 71 MPs can sit in the Parliament chamber at the same time, while others will be sitting in other rooms," Jandroković told the press after a meeting of the Parliament Presidency.

The Croatian Parliament has 151 seats.

He noted that wearing face masks would continue to be mandatory. MPs will be allowed to take off their mask when speaking from their seat or addressing the chamber from the lectern from behind a plexiglass shield.

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.

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