Thursday, 19 May 2022

Floraart Opens At Bundek Lake

ZAGREB, 19 May 2022 - The 56th edition of the Floraart flower show was formally opened by Mayor Tomislav Tomašević at Zagreb's Bundek Lake on Thursday.

This year, there are 160 exhibitors with over 100,000 plants.

Mayor Tomašević particularly thanked guests from the Republic of Korea and Korean Ambassador Sung-Wook Hong, for attending the opening ceremony.

Also in attendance was Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković,  who hailed cooperation with Korea.

The minister said that local flower growers, particularly young entrepreneurs in this sector, had been supported under various schemes totalling HRK 15 million (€2 million).

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Mayor Says Sweeping For Bugs at Zagreb Holding Standard Procedure

ZAGREB, 3 May 2022 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Tuesday that sweeping for covert listening devices at the Zagreb Holding multi-utility conglomerate was a common procedure from the catalogue of services related to corporate security, aimed at preventing irregularities and corruption.

Speaking at a regular news conference, he said that corporate security was an integral part of large companies' business operations, notably with regard to major public procurement projects, and that the option "may or may not be used."

"This is also due to the various indictments issued by the USKOK anti-corruption office... so Zagreb Holding's management wants to improve corporate security in that regard as well," he said, adding that possible checks were not related to the leaking of the names of surplus Zagreb Holding employees.

Speaking of plans to carry out a forensic analysis of water pipelines in the context of ruptures in the city water supply grid this and last year, Tomašević said that it was under way and that it was a standard procedure to determine how exactly the ruptures happened and to rule out human error.

He said that there had been no investments in the city water supply grid for 20 years even though 15 years ago Zagreb Holding bonds were issued for that purpose.

Reconstructing the water supply grid will cost at least HRK 2 billion and the process will take seven to eight years, he said.

Asked if citizens should fear gas shortages, Tomašević said that the issue was within the remit of the state, recalling that he had already said that Croatia should reduce its dependence on fossil fuel imports because it was not only an environmental but also an energy security issue.

Tomašević also confirmed that the offices of a dozen local government committees would be repurposed to serve as kindergartens and that there were plans to create 60 jobs.

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Mayor: Waiting For Decision on Stay-at-home Parent Scheme Costs HRK 40 Million a Month

ZAGREB, 26 April 2022 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević has warned that waiting for a court decision on the legality of the amended decision on financial support for stay-at-home parents will cost citizens HRK 40 million a month, after the High Administrative Court on Monday postponed a decision on its legality.

"As of June, each month that we wait for the court to rule on the matter will cost an additional HRK 40 million," Tomašević told a news conference on Tuesday.

He added that the city administration made the decision to phase out the stay-at-home parent scheme five months ago, that it regretted the court had not ruled on the matter and that it hoped it would decide on the merits of the case as soon as possible.

The High Administrative Court on Monday suspended the application of the amended decision on financial support for stay-at-home parents in Zagreb, as a result of which their present allowance will not be reduced as of 1 May.

Stay-at-home parents will continue to receive the present amount of the monthly allowance, equivalent to 65 per cent of the average gross salary paid in the city's enterprise sector, instead of HRK 1,000 (€133) as decided by the City Assembly.

"We are confident that our decision is quite legal. On the other hand, had we not amended the decision (on financial support for stay-at-home parents), it would have been detrimental to the public interest and the city policy that we advocate," Tomašević said, adding that waiting for the final court decision wasn't in anybody's interest.

"Is there another city in Croatia that has an aid scheme for stay-at-home parents? There isn't. Is there such a scheme at the national level? No. Did this government promise to introduce it at the national level? It did, so why hasn't it introduced it?" the mayor asked.

He repeated that regardless of the court decision, the city administration would insist on repurposing city-owned buildings to enable the expansion of kindergarten capacity as well as the construction of additional kindergartens.

"Things should be put into perspective - if the current scheme stays in force, it will cost the same as one kindergarten a month. Citizens should be aware of that," Tomašević said, noting that EU funding would be sought for the construction of new kindergartens.

Deputy Mayor Danijela Dolenec also said that the city would organise the traditional International Workers Day celebration in Zagreb's Maksimir Park on 1 May, inviting citizens to the event.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.


Saturday, 23 April 2022

Zagreb Mayor Offers Help to Quake-affected Areas in SE Bosnia And Herzegovina

ZAGREB, 23 April 2022 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević has offered humanitarian and other assistance to the mayors of Mostar and Stolac after a strong earthquake struck southeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina late on Friday.

Tomašević has spoken by telephone with the Mayor of Mostar, Mario Kordić, and the Mayor of Stolac, Stjepan Bošković, conveying his sympathies and offering help, he said on Twitter on Saturday.

Zagreb itself was hit by a 5.5 magnitude earthquake on 22 March 2020 and has received aid from other towns and cities.

A magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit southeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina shortly after 11 pm on Friday. The epicentre was between the towns of Ljubinje and Stolac.

The earthquake claimed the life of a 28-year-old woman, who suffered fatal injuries after a rock fell on her house in Stolac. Several people were lightly injured elsewhere in the region, and the property damage is being assessed.

The tremor was also felt in neighbouring Croatia and Montenegro. 

In the southern Croatian border town of Metković, firefighters received five calls for assistance in removing damaged chimneys and shattered windows, while elsewhere in Dubrovnik-Neretva County firefighters were called in to help clear rockslides. 

There was no need to involve firefighters from other areas of the county, the Croatian Fire Service said on Saturday, adding that the situation is under control.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

Zagreb Mayor Supports Minister's 5-Point Plan to Step Up Post-Quake Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 19 April 2022 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Tuesday that he supported a five-point plan to step up the post-earthquake reconstruction, presented by the new Construction Minister, Ivan Paladina, on 14 April.

"We welcome these five points because they are in substance what we have been advocating since we came to power (in the City of Zagreb)," said the mayor.

Tomašević declined to comment on media reports on the previous career and the declaration of assets of Minister Paladina and on the media questioning if Paladina was a good choice for this position.

"I have never delved into personnel choices," said the mayor.

Commenting on the city authorities' insistence on the reconstruction of private houses and property, Tomašević said he could not see any reason why substitute family houses can be built in the quake-hit Banovina region and not in Zagreb.

Deputy Mayor Luka Korlaet said he wanted to believe that Paladina had the competencies for the ministerial position he now held.

Korlaet said that a bottleneck in the post-quake reconstruction process is partly in the construction ministry and partly in public procurement advertised by the Reconstruction Fund.

Some 70 buildings are undergoing reconstruction which they are are conducting on their own, he added.

Tomašević informed the press that the city authorities had been provided with HRK 7.5 million (€1 million) in grants to set up 1.4 megawatt solar panels on public institutions as support under a Norwegian financial mechanism.

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Protest Held Against Layoffs at Zagreb Holding

ZAGREB, 29 March 2022 - Some of the trade unions operating within the Zagreb Holding multi-utility conglomerate held a protest rally on Tuesday, demanding the resignation of the management and suspension of the process of identifying redundant labour.

Several hundred protesters, including employees and union leaders, gathered outside the Holding's headquarters, waving union flags and holding banners saying "Down with the ZG Holding management" and "Stop this farce".

The protesters demanded that the workers declared redundant should not be laid off before a reorganisation plan and a new job classification plan were adopted.

The protesting unions had been involved in social dialogue with the management on identifying redundant labour. Unhappy with the process, seven unions from the SSSH union federation withdrew from the negotiations in early February, while the leaders of so-called in-house unions continued negotiating.

The in-house unions and the management agreed a list of 447 staff to be included in a redundancy programme. 

Baldo Kovačević, the leader of one of the protesting unions, said that the whole process had been poorly led because the management negotiated with the "illegitimate body", a negotiating committee comprising seven representatives of the in-house unions and only two from the SSSH. He said the whole situation was bizarre because the same people who for years had been involved in hiring were now deciding on layoffs.

Commenting on the protest, Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said that the social dialogue was constructive and that a majority of the unions were continuing the dialogue while only a minority was protesting.

He said that the original list of 544 redundant staff had been reduced to 447, denying the claims that it included cleaning and security staff.

Tomašević said that identifying redundant labour was part of the process in which the Holding, after operating at a loss for two years, should be put back on its feet so that it could settle its debts next year.

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Zagreb Mayor Calls on Government to Say What More City Can Do to Help It in Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 22 March 2022 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Tuesday, on the second anniversary of the 2020 earthquake, that the city administration was very unhappy with the reconstruction of private buildings, of which the state was in charge, calling on the state to say what more the city can do to help it in the process.

"It is a duty for the city to help in the process but we must also say that our patience, as well as the patience of Zagreb residents, is wearing thin. Let them say what else we can do to help, and we will help," Tomašević said at a regular press conference.

On the second anniversary of the 22 March 2020 earthquake in Zagreb, with no private buildings or houses having been reconstructed, the mayor said that he was "extremely unhappy".

He recalled that the city had set aside HRK 160 million for reconstruction this year.

That is a 20% share with which, under the law, the city is obliged to co-finance the reconstruction of private houses and residential buildings, and the money has still not been touched because the city is waiting for the completion of processes of which the state is in charge, Tomašević said.

Asked where the problem was and who was responsible for the reconstruction of private buildings not having started yet, the mayor said that under the law, it was clear that the reconstruction of private buildings was in the remit of the state - the construction ministry and the reconstruction fund.

In a message to the state authorities, Tomašević said that if the legislative framework was still not good, it should be changed again.

"If the law is not good, change it again. If the reconstruction programme is not good, let it be changed," he said.

If the problem in the reconstruction process is the lack of construction companies, one should publish international tenders, he said.

Asked if there was a forecast as to how many private houses and buildings in Zagreb should be reconstructed by the end of the year, the mayor said that the HRK 160 million contribution from the city had been agreed with the Construction Ministry.

"We set aside the 160 million... because we expected that it was our contribution to some HRK 800 million for the reconstruction of private buildings, which should have been launched and the funds spent by the end of the year," he said.

The city has already invested HRK 250 million into the reconstruction of public buildings, and that money will be reimbursed from the EU Solidarity Fund. Temporary accommodation has been secured for people who after the earthquake were accommodated in housing containers and the Arena Hostel, and the city has reassigned its employees to the ministry and the fund to help step up the procedures, Tomašević said, citing what the city has done so far to facilitate the reconstruction process.

He added that the city had also allocated HRK 41.8 million in aid for citizens whose properties were damaged in the earthquake.

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Mayor Announces Public Consultation on Reconstruction of Zagreb's Upper, Lower Town

ZAGREB, 15 March 2022 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Tuesday that a programme for the city's integral reconstruction, focusing on the seismic retrofitting and integral reconstruction of the Upper and Lower Town districts, that is, the city's historical centre, would be presented on 22 March. 

"Next Tuesday public consultation will be launched on the programme for the integral reconstruction of the city's historical centre. In addition to that, an expert discussion and a set of round tables will be launched to include citizens and experts in the process... in order to use the reconstruction process to revitalise the city's historical centre," the mayor said at a news conference.

His deputy Luka Korlaet said the programme for the integral reconstruction of the city's historical centre would be presented on 22 March, on the second anniversary of the Zagreb earthquake.

"It will be the first long-term strategic document of that kind, providing guidelines for the state, city, private owners and investors on how to carry out not only seismic retrofitting but how to make the city better as a whole," Korlaet said.

He said the document was aimed at defining a new approach to urban development to make the city safer and greener and make its residents' quality of life better, with less traffic jams and lower utility bills.

Point for mass vaccination at Zagreb Trade Fair Centre closed

Tomašević said that after almost a year, the point for mass vaccination against COVID-19 at the Zagreb Trade Fair Centre closed down last weekend.

Between 50 and 100 medical workers worked at the location on a daily basis for the past 12 months, administering close to 480,000 vaccine doses, he said.

"We need to continue to be cautious, and if the current trend changes, we will be ready to respond with mass vaccination capacity," the mayor stressed.

He also announced that the city ZET public transportation company would be offering free public transport for Ukrainian refugees who have a certificate issued by the Ministry of the Interior proving their displaced person status.

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

Zagreb Mobilises Three Facilities for Reception of Ukrainian Refugees

ZAGREB, 1 March 2022 - There are currently 18 Ukrainian refugees at the Plitvice Motel in Zagreb, three accommodation facilities in the city have been prepared for the reception of refugees and additional capacities are being discussed, Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Tuesday.

"A total of 344 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Croatia so far," the mayor said, noting that the city administration was communicating intensively with the competent services regarding the reception of refugees.

Tomašević noted that refugees were arriving and continuing on to further destinations, with many of them finding accommodation with their relatives.

The mayor said that a much bigger refugee wave was expected once organised transport was established.

The city currently has 200-300 beds available for the refugees, which is more than enough for the time being, he said, noting that other services were also available by city health institutions, including epidemiological protection, psychological assistance and general health care.

Thursday, 27 January 2022

Economy Minister Says Mayor Responsible for Unacceptable Gas Price in Zagreb

ZAGREB, 27 Jan 2022 - Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić said on Thursday that Mayor Tomislav Tomašević and his team were responsible for the markedly higher corporate gas bills in Zagreb, and not HDZ personnel, because they failed to procure it at better prices.

Tomašević said earlier the former director of the City Gasworks' Supply division, Igor Pirija, who ran the division until last October, was responsible and that he was HDZ personnel, claiming that he did not buy gas at cheaper prices on time and that Zagreb businesses were in trouble because of him.

Ćorić said Tomašević should do his job and that Pirija was not in the HDZ.

Alluding to Tomašević's past as an activist, he said, "That phase is over, now it's necessary to run Croatia's largest city."

"At one time, Holding and the Gasworks were taken over by the new city administration. (Nikola) Vuković became the head of Holding for a few months. He could have procured the gas whenever he wanted. That procurement would have cost three and a half to four times less than it costs today," Ćorić said, referring to the Zagreb Holding multi-utility conglomerate.

He added that Vuković and his successors were appointed by Tomašević.

The minister said the mayor and his team should assume responsibility for the higher price, find the money, buy enough gas, whatever the cost, and honour the contracts with corporate clients.

He said Tomašević, Zagreb Holding and the team running the City Gasworks assumed responsibility for the Gasworks when they assumed responsibility for the city last May, regardless of who was director until one, two or five months ago.

"A new president of Holding's management board was appointed in June. Talks probably began then with the companies owned by Holding. Someone should have said then that the City Gasworks was short of 600 gigawatt hours of gas to meet corporate needs until the end of April," Ćorić said.

He reiterated that the price of gas at that time was several times lower than today and that the mayor and his team should have acted.

City Assembly vice president Mislav Herman (HDZ) told Tomašević to stop using the City Gasworks's previous management board as an excuse because he had enough time to buy gas at far lower prices.

He said that since Tomašević came to power, there was enough time to contract a new gas price, claiming that on 15 August last year the price of gas was about five times lower than today.

"Instead of making illegal appointments in Zagreb Holding during the summer, he could have been buying gas at then far lower prices so that our corporate clients' bills for December and the period ahead were far lower," Herman said.

He, too, said Pirija was not an HDZ member.

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