Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Digital Croatia: Best Large ''Digital'' Cities Zagreb and Rijeka

Just how close are we to a real digital Croatia? The answer is unclear and as varied as ever, but some Croatian cities have shown promise with some rather impressive and encouraging results.

As Novac/Gradonacelnik.hr writes on the 23rd of April, 2019, although more and more cities are gradually digitising their business and investing in smart city solutions, and some of the most advanced have almost completely switched to doing solely digital business, generally speaking, Croatian cities are only in the very early stages of the much needed digital transition, just as Croatia is, as a country, at the very bottom in Europe in terms of the digital readiness of general society and the economy.

As the methodology for ranking cities in terms of digital readiness is only at its very beginning even at the European level, stories and analysis of the "smart city" concept development here in Croatia are still very much based on individual experiences, examples and projects.

That is why, in order to gain a real elementary insight into the digitalisation of Croatia's services and the communication of the country's many city administrations with citizens, experts from Apsolon, a consulting company specialising in digital business development, has undertaken the very first major study of the ''digital readiness'' of twenty of the largest cities across Croatia. This study, according to project manager and smart management director at Apsolon, Ivana Novoselec, is the basis for the further development of research tools and methodology that will track the development and progress of Croatia's cities on an annual basis.

In its study, Apsolon divided the cities into three categories - large (Zagreb, Split, Rijeka, Osijek), middle (Zadar, Velika Gorica, Slavonski Brod, Pula and Karlovac) and smaller cities (Sisak, Varaždin, Šibenik, Dubrovnik, Bjelovar, Kaštela, Samobor, Vinkovci, Koprivnica, Đakovo, Vukovar.)

The digital readiness index at Apsolon was set based on several criteria - the availability of e-services (the number of administrative services and their digitalisation rate in Croatia), the availability of site service information and the development of unified services for making payments in the city, then came the availability of city data, the level of citizen participation in decision making and communication channels between the city administration and citizens, ie, the availability of data and time in which citizens receive answers to their various questions. At this stage, Apsolon hasn't entered into the internal processes in Croatia's city administrations, but rather focused on what services are offered to the city's citizens and how long such things typically take.

After this type of indexing and ranking, the title of the ''digitisation champion'' among the Croatian cities was awarded to the City of Rijeka, thus confirming its status as the best city in the Smart City category which it won last year. Apsolon pointed out that the City of Rijeka has achieved the greatest advances in the systematic raising of the quality of its services, but also the opening of data and communication channels to citizens.

"Rijeka as the most advanced city in Croatia in terms of digitisation and is characterised in particular by the emphasis on openness and communication with its citizens. Its administration is oriented towards clear communication (a very clear centralised e-services approach with well-organised access to all automated services and available forms), openness and participatory management," said project manager Ivana Novoselac.

In many categories, especially those relating to the functional aspects of digitisation (advanced digital services, e-citizen connectivity, etc.), Rijeka is followed closely by the City of Zagreb.

The city of Pula is the most advanced middle-size city in Croatia, which also presents its services and available information to its citizens in a systematic and very detailed way, raising standards in terms of transparency and interaction with citizens, and is certainly a champion among cities with between 50.000 and 100.000 inhabitants.

In relation to the criteria relating to specific functional and technological solutions, Karlovac, Velika Gorica and Zadar follow. For the City of Karlovac the large number of available administrative procedures on its website and responses to citizens' inquiries are generally quick made it stand out from the crowd.

Among the small cities in Croatia, there is no distinctly dominant digital champion, but according to research findings in different aspects of digitisation, Dubrovnik, Samobor, Sisak, Koprivnica and Varaždin appear to be the most successful ones, according to this research. Among the prominent representatives of this category, Dubrovnik is strategically trying to profile as Smart City and has a high quality City Card, e-Visitor platform, is very active on social networks and it continuing to develop innovative application solutions. When it comes to the number of digitally available services, Koprivnica ranks above all.

Samobor, which is particularly active on social networks and is the category winner for social networking, has a very comprehensive and interactive website which separates the site accordingly and has adjusted all of the information for citizens and for visitors, as well as separating foreign visitors from domestic ones.

It should also be noted that Bjelovar is extremely proactive in the field of the digitalisation of its administration, it is working on applicative transparency solutions as well as on internal digitalisation processes. What is particularly commendable is Bjelovar's focus on the digitalisation of its internal processes.

Make sure to follow our dedciated lifestyle page for much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Novac/Jutarnji/Gradonacelnik.hr

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Croatian Success Stories: Family Business Dream Becomes Reality

Can one succeed in doing business on Croatian territory? Yes, one certainly can.

Asteria, a Croatian family company started by Dubravka and Veronika Vuković in the village of Banova Jaruga near Sisak in the continental part of the country, marked its first anniversary of being in business at the end of February 2019.

As Marta Duic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 6th of April, 2019, this mother and daughter team successfully run their business which involves producing sleepwear, and the combination of Dubravka's long-standing experience in the textile industry and Veronika's knowledge gained about entrepreneurship at the Faculty of Economics in Osijek proved to be a winning combination.

"The two of us have always managed to create something together, and last year we had the chance to share that with the world. Our desire is to offer women quality sleepwear, ours is a different look than what is currently on our market, and that's why we decided to go with sleepwear. We want women to feel comfortable but at the same time feel elegant and confident in our clothes,'' explained Veronika Vuković.

Some of the Asteria branded underwear products include classic pyjamas, nightgowns, nightgowns, combos, dresses, kimonos and bathrobes, and fashion accessories such as sleeping masks and cosmetics bags.

"After the initial calculations, we started with the creative part and started working on the first models, there were a lot of attempts, a bunch of models from different fabrics, we played around with it all and tried out what would be the best, and we also asked our acquaintances to see what they liked the best, and soon after, we decided to take advantage of the self-employment incentives and open up an obrt (a type of company). At first, we needed some time because we knew only some of the very basics and not much more, and the biggest challenge were the Croatian state institutions and the vague information we received. We now understand the way they work and it's easier for us to talk to them,'' stated Vuković, reminiscing on Asteria's very beginnings.

The fabrics are mostly purchased from Italy and Germany and from some Croatian companies, and they're both [both domestic and foreign companies] responsible for the designs.

''Our products have been on the market for nine months now, and the web shop has been open for seven months. Special attention is paid to the design of the clothes and the selection of the fabric used in production, and each piece is manually sewn. I can say that we're getting better and better at it. When we started, no one knew about us and yet everything went easily.

Today, customers are already familiar with us and know where to look for our products, and on our web shop every month we have more orders than we had during the previous month. Customers often come back with some positive feedback, and we're particularly happy when they send us a picture of how they wear their clothes and how the clothes look on them,'' said Veronika Vuković, who prepares and delivers the items within four working days. In addition to Asteria's web shop and social networks, their products can also be viewed and purchased at their workshop in Banova Jaruga. Vuković noted that they aren't planning to open a classical type of store, at least for now.

"The type of clothes we make are made by almost nobody in the whole of Croatia. Although there are several Croatian companies that do sell sleepwear, it isn't similar to ours and is primarily different when it comes to the type of fabric being used.

Although these companies and foreign companies selling sleepwear are our competition, we're constantly working on being different to them and to make ourselves known for the variety and the quality of our products. As our greatest achievement, I would point out that customers have begun to recognise our products and recommend us to their acquaintances,'' said Vuković, noting that their current greatest efforts are investing in their proper positioning on the market as high quality garment manufacturers, as well as the expansion of their assortments and the entering into new markets.

"We're still not going to give too much away, but what I will say is that we're preparing stylish dresses, blouses and skirts in daytime, business and evening combinations, everything that a woman needs, and we want to focus more on sales in the EU and in the rest of the world in the future. They're much larger markets than our Croatian market here, and we believe our products have great potential,'' Vuković concluded.

Make sure to follow our dedicated Made in Croatia and business pages for much more on Croatian businesses, Croatian products and services, and Croatian success stories.

 

Click here for the original article by Marta Duic for Poslovni Dnevnik

Friday, 8 March 2019

Croatia and Serbia Water Polo Prepare for Sports Spectacle in Sisak

The Croatia water polo team welcomes Serbia on Tuesday, March 12 as part of the Europa Cup.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Minister Hopeful about Future for Sisak Oil Refinery Workers

ZAGREB, January 3, 2019 - Environment and Energy Minister Tomislav Ćorić said on Thursday, while commenting on the business transformation of the INA oil company, that the government was insisting that as many Sisak oil refinery workers as possible should be retained.

He dismissed claims that he and State Assets Minister Goran Maric disagreed on the issue of the Sisak refinery.

"What Minister Marić said in 2016 and what we have been saying all long is that INA should be a vertically integrated company. We believe that modernisation of INA's refining business has no alternative and an investment of between 3.5 and 4 billion kuna that will be made in that regard is necessary," Ćorić told the press outside the government headquarters.

"There are no differences of opinion between us. It was necessary to insist on maintaining employment in Sisak-Moslavina County. Marić's statement should be viewed in a wider context. The question of the refining business in 2016 and in 2018 is not the same," he added.

Marić said in 2016 that he would not allow the closure of the Sisak oil refinery because of its importance for the local economy. "I would sooner leave politics than allow its closure," he said then.

Under its business plan for 2019, INA will concentrate its oil refining business at the Rijeka refinery, while the Sisak refinery will be converted into an industrial centre focusing on other activities.

Ćorić said that the Sisak plant was currently operating at about 30 percent of its capacity, while the Rijeka refinery was operating at 70 percent. "Croatia needs INA as a strong energy company. It needs an efficient and successful INA that will be competitive and profitable," he added.

Asked what would happen with workers at Sisak as part of INA's business transformation, Ćorić recalled the conclusions of the business plan adopted at the end of last year, under which between 40 and 50 percent of workers at Sisak would remain in the plants that would continue operating.

As for the rest of the workers, a comprehensive redundancy programme has been prepared by the management and they will also have an option of working in other business areas of INA, the minister said.

More news on the INA oil company can be found in our Business section.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

City of Sisak to Pay Hefty Sum After Woman Falls Victim to Stray Dogs

The police failed to determine the owner(s) of the dogs, but the witnesses said the animals were wandering around the streets of their own accord for at least one month before the event itself. The City of Sisak will now have to pay up for the damages incurred.

As VLM/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 3rd of January, 2019, the City of Sisak will have to pay 43,420 kuna in compensation to Sisak woman Ljubić Rendulić-Holzer, who in September 2014 fell victim to the antics of stray dogs in the centre of Sisak, in an incident in which she fell to the ground and suffered numerous injuries to her feet and head.

The City of Sisak now has to settle a little more than 11,000 kuna in court costs on top of that, as was decided upon a few days ago by a judge at the Sisak Municipal Court, Andrea Vasiljević.

Ljubica Rendulić-Holzer, who is otherwise a judge at the County Court in Sisak herself, suffered injuries while talking to a friend in the street. Not far from her, three stray dogs without any supervision or control were playing. During whatever game the dogs were playing, they collided with her, knocking her down and causing her to hit her head and hurt her foot.

Emergency services took her to hospital where medical help was provided, after which the event was reported to the police. She continued to suffer from injuries caused by the incident at the end of March 2015, and had to go through as many as 60 physical therapy sessions.

The City of Sisak stated in its defense that the dogs cannot be determined as strays, and that if they were, damages would have to be sought via Sisak's veterinary station, which, at that time, had a contract with the City of Sisak on dealing with apparently abandoned and stray animals. However, the photograph taken by the victim's wife shortly after the attack clearly shows the scene of the event, in which three dogs of medium size without collars are involved, this was confirmed by witnesses as well.

The police could not determine the owners of the dogs from the photograph taken by the victim's husband, but witnesses claim that that same pack of dogs had been wandering around freely for about a month before the incident took place.

The court therefore ordered that the payment of damages be paid by the City of Sisak because it was determined that the city itself retains the right of supervision and control of the services provided by the Sisak veterinary station, and since the dogs had been wandering around for more than a month prior to the event, it is apparent that Sisak's city officials hadn't done their job properly. Therefore, the city budget has to pay a total of 43,240 kuna to the woman for physical ailments, psychological damage, loss of earnings, and medical treatment costs.

Otherwise, problems like this caused by dogs are quite common in Croatia and in neighbouring countries, although this was not a direct attack by dogs.

Make sure to stay up to date with our dedicated news page for more.

 

Click here for the original article by VLM for Poslovni Dnevnik

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Sisak Refinery Closure Criticised by Opposition

ZAGREB, December 22, 2018 - The MOST party said on Friday that by "stalling and abandoning plans for INA's buyout, the Plenković cabinet is making it possible for Hungarian oil and gas group MOL to blackmail Croatia into the announced closing of the Sisak refinery."

Asking Prime Minister Andrej Plenković what his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban had blackmailed him with, MOST wonders in a statement what "Croatia will get if Plenković has allowed Hungarians to close the refinery in Sisak and let them enter Petrokemija's management. They will soon start exporting INA's gas to themselves and who knows what else is in the offing? Isn't the price of Hungary's merciful blackmailer involvement in the LNG terminal, whereby Plenković is showing his commitment to the EU by seeking a future office in the Commission, too high?"

MOST further says that Prime Minister Plenković has personally appointed the Croatian members of the management of the INA oil company (jointly owned by Croatia and MOL) but that they are not representing INA's interests.

In the shareholders agreement on INA, MOL has undertaken to be a strategic partner but it has taken over INA's market and turned the company into an oil retailer, MOST says, claiming that Hungary is protecting its interests in a sovereign way while the Croatian government is incapable of organising a tender to buy back MOL's stake in INA.

SDP president Davor Bernardić visited Sisak to meet with Predrag Sekulić, unionist and spokesman for Sisak refinery workers, for talks on the current situation in the refinery following a decision by the INA oil company to stop refining oil in Sisak.

INA, which is owned jointly by Croatia and the Hungarian oil and gas group MOL, announced on Wednesday that it would concentrate its refining business in Rijeka, while the Sisak refinery would be converted into an industrial centre focusing on other activities.

"Had Plenković stuck to his pre-election promise of two years ago and restored Croatian ownership of INA, the Sisak refinery would not be facing closure. This government has not done anything in that regard and will be remembered for making the workers of Uljanik, 3. Maj and the Sisak refinery jobless," Bernardić said.

The SDP leader also wondered if the closure of the Sisak refinery and possible dropping of an indictment proposal against MOL executive Zsolt Hernadi had been agreed at recent talks between Plenković and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in exchange for Hungary's withdrawal of an arbitration lawsuit against Croatia in the INA case.

More news on the INA-MOL case can be found in our Business section.

Friday, 21 December 2018

Sisak Oil Refinery Workers Confused by Reports about Closure

ZAGREB, December 21, 2018 - The news that production at the Sisak oil refinery will be closed, although expected, disquieted workers on Thursday, and their spokesman Predrag Sekulić said they were "confused by the absence of a clear reaction from the government."

The arguments given by the INA oil company in favour of discontinuing production at Sisak are unconvincing and unilateral, he said, adding that workers are not surprised by the news.

"This is just a confirmation of our claim that the acquisition of INA by the Hungarian energy group MOL was a hostile takeover. We, however, are confused by the absence of a clear reaction from the government, whose representatives have said several times that they will push for the continuation of production and survival of the Sisak refinery," Sekulić told Hina.

He said that the union and workers were meeting on Friday to discuss their further steps.

INA announced on Wednesday that it would concentrate its refining business in Rijeka, while the Sisak refinery would be converted into an industrial centre focusing on other activities.

If the Sisak refinery is shut down, it will lead to further emigration and dying out of the local economy and other sectors, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said in Varaždin on Thursday.

Asked if she could join in efforts to deal with the planned closure of the Sisak oil refinery, which could also be seen as a matter of national security, Grabar-Kitarović said that she would become involved, in line with her constitutional powers, because she was not authorised to make any decisions in that regard.

"I will definitely be in talks with both the Croatian and the Hungarian side with a view of keeping the refinery running because those jobs really need to be saved. Otherwise we will face further emigration and dying out of the local economy and other sectors," she said.

Varaždin County Prefect Radimir Čačić, who met with the president, said that the MOL oil and gas company had been planning for a long time to close down the Sisak oil refinery and that there was a conflict of legitimate Croatian and Hungarian interests in that case.

The Sisak refinery is part of INA, which is owned jointly by the Croatian state and the Hungarian oil and gas group.

"Under the initial agreement, Hungarians could in no way close down the refinery. Moreover, they undertook to upgrade and develop it further. The terms of those initial agreements have evidently been changed and the incumbent government lacks the strength to prevent the closing down of the plants," Čačić said, adding that the closure of the refinery was more a matter of the loss of a vital type of production than a matter of job loss.

"Most of the workers will probably get decent severance packages, retire or... there will be a switch to alternative production – the processing of the already processed oil products and their storage. The number of workers will not be reduced significantly. This is first and foremost about the loss of strategic production, that's the problem," said Čačić.

More news on the INA-MOL case can be found in our Business section.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

INA to Close Down Sisak Refinery

ZAGREB, December 20, 2018 - Energy Minister Tomislav Ćorić commented on Thursday on oil company INA's business plan for 2019, saying it was about an investment cycle that would lead to the necessary modernisation of the refining business and that the transformation of the business in Sisak was the path INA should take. The plans call for the closure of Sisak refinery.

Responding to questions from the press ahead of a cabinet meeting, Ćorić said the company's management and supervisory boards had supported a plan to transform the business in Sisak. "I think INA should first and foremost become a business case and less a subject of politicisation."

Asked if that meant the end of refining in Sisak, Ćorić said the transformation of the business there had been analysed by management and that it was "simply the path INA should take."

INA plans to concentrate its refining business in Rijeka, while the Sisak refinery would focus on other activities, the company said on Wednesday.

Asked about Hungarian energy group MOL's withdrawal of a suit it brought against Croatia before a Washington district court, Ćorić said the suit was groundless as all of MOL's receivables from Croatia were paid over a year ago.

More news on the future of INA can be found in our Business section.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Future Waste Management Center in Eastern Croatia to Make Region Healthier

The Šagulje Wast Management Center is the joint project of Brod-Posavina, Požega-Slavonia, and part of Sisak-Moslavina County in Eastern Croatia. 

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Segestika-Siscia Archaeological Centre to Open in Sisak

The proposals for the development of the Segestika-Siscia Archaeological Centre have been presented in Sisak. There are four proposals which have been submitted as part of the public competition announced by the town authorities, and the expert jury decided that the best proposal is the one designed by Sara Jurinčić, Aleksandar Matijašević, Dino Mišković and Tatjana Barišić-Antolić, reports Lokalni.hr on November 17, 2018.

The town authorities announced the public competition for the purpose of obtaining the best possible urban planning and architectural solution for the Segestika-Siscia Archaeological Centre, which will serve as a basis for drafting the project documentation for the reconstruction of the centre building.

“Two years after we bought the building for two million kuna, we have reached the stage that the Ministry of Culture will fund the drafting of the project documentation. We have published a public competition which produced the best solution and it is nice to see that our vision will finally be realized.

171118 Archaeological centre 2

In this way, Sisak will get an archaeological heritage interpretation centre like no other in Europe, not only because it will be energy efficient but because it will bring together all the segments, from the research on the site from the presentation of the findings. Across the road from the centre is one of the most important archaeological sites in Croatia.

The archaeological treasures found in Sisak are currently not presented in an appropriate way and this will fix that. The town will get new jobs, experts who will come to our town and explore its archaeological heritage. I am particularly pleased that the winning proposal includes the chimney which will be turned into an observation viewing point. Together with the Ministry of Culture, we will nominate the project for EU funding,” said Sisak Mayor Kristina Ikić Baniček.

The main goal of the winning proposal is to bring the centre closer to the users, said team member Aleksandar Matijašević. “Our goal was not to create a closed building which does not communicate with the surroundings but to create several entry points. The visitors who will come to the centre will be able to see the entire building,” Matijašević said.

171118 Archaeological centre 3

The head of the Sisak Conservation Department, Ivana Miletić Čakširan, pointed out that archaeological findings in Sisak deserved such a project, which is unique in that the interpretation will take place on the archaeological site itself.

Parts of Sisak were built directly on the ruins of the Roman Siscia and the prehistoric Segestika, and the archaeological significance and potential are of such a scale and complexity that partial presentations are insufficient in terms of interpretation of the archaeological area.

By interpreting the Segestika-Siscia archaeological area in the industrial buildings of the Segestica factory complex, the project will interpret the remains of the Roman architecture in the archaeological park and create a multifunctional archaeological centre.

For more news on Sisak and the surrounding area, click here.

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