Friday, 28 January 2022

Deputy Mayor Says Solution to High Corporate Gas Bills to Be Sought with State

ZAGREB, 28 Jan 2022 - Deputy Mayor Danijela Dolenec on Thursday evening commented on Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić's accusing the City of Zagreb and Mayor Tomislav Tomašević of being responsible for markedly higher corporate gas bills in Zagreb, noting that a solution would have to be sought in cooperation with the state.

Ćorić said earlier in the day that 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 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.

"The former management of the City Gasworks' Supply division made a number of bad business decisions that resulted in losses for that company and higher bills for corporate users. In the spring (of 2021) it signed contracts under which already then it sold gas at prices that were below market prices while buying it at variable prices. It created a huge risk and we see the consequences now," the deputy mayor said.

She put this in the context of the global energy crisis, saying that not only Zagreb but other local government units as well were having problems with gas prices and that a solution would have to be sought in cooperation with the state.

Talks are underway and the public will be informed of the results, she said.

Dolenec also noted that one should establish if the unfavourable contracts on gas prices were only bad business moves by the former management of the City Gasworks' Supply division or were harmful contracts for which one should be held criminally liable.

She also said that the city would cover the difference in the gas bill of the soup kitchen in Zagreb's Sveti Duh neighbourhood, which from the earlier monthly amount of HRK 6,000 has risen to 25,000.

"The St Anthony of Padua soup kitchen... provides around 400 meals a day. The city has financed soup kitchens since 2004, and in the budget for this year HRK 700,000 has been earmarked for soup kitchens," Dolenec said, noting that the city would make sure the operation of the soup kitchen was not jeopardised.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 16 December 2021

Ten Water Management Investment Projects Signed

ZAGREB, 16 Dec 2021 - Ten contracts worth HRK 116.4 million were signed on Thursday to finance water management projects as part of the 2021-26 National Recovery and Resilience Plan.

The contracts were signed at the Hrvatske Vode water management company by Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić and Hrvatske Vode general manager Zoran Đuroković.

They said these ten contracts were the first step in utilizing National Recovery and Resilience Plan funds.

The contracts concern the allocation of grants from the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility to finance investment in public water supply and drainage projects. A total of 70 projects were submitted and the maximum amount available for allocation is HRK 800 million.

Contracts were also signed on the national component of co-financing the projects.

One of the signatories is the Pula city waterworks. Their project is the most valuable at HRK 44.5 million, with the grant amounting to HRK 28.5 million. The company's director, Dean Starčić, said the money would be used to reconstruct and construct pipelines.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Saturday, 6 November 2021

Green Activists Demand Shutdown of Plomin Power Plant in Next Five Years

ZAGREB, 6 Nov 2021 - Activists of the Zelena Akcija environmentalist group on Saturday held a performance in downtown Zagreb to demand the closing of the coal-fired thermal power plant in the Istrian town of Plomin in the next five years.

The purpose of their performance was to warn about the failures of the government and Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić in efforts to meet climate neutrality targets.

They claim that the efforts which Prime Minister Andrej Plenković presented during the Glasgow climate summit were insufficient.

Those environmentalists also insist that the closure of the Plomin thermal plant should be shifted from the planned deadline in 2033 to 2026.

The activists raised their voice against nuclear energy from the Krško plant, as they believe that instead of investing in the construction of a new block of the Krško plant, those funds should be used for solar panels on rooftops.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Tomislav Coric Claims Government Doing All to Stabilise Fuel Situation

October the 22nd, 2021 - Economy Minister Tomislav Coric has attempted to reassure the public that the government is willing to do all it can to deal with the situation around increasing fuel prices.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, the government is considering additional measures in case of continued increase in fuel prices after 30 days of direct intervention in the market through the adoption of a decree on the matter, and according to the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Coric, there will be a slightly fairer distribution of responsibilities to come.

According to Tomislav Coric, in the coming weeks, the Croatian Government will analyse the situation, and although they hope to reduce prices, he says, at the moment it isn't expected that this will happen soon, so the concrete actions of Banski dvori are again set to be guided by allowing the price to remain stable and trying to ensure a “fairer distribution of responsibilities that is initially at the disposal of distributors”.

By freezing prices for a period of thirty days, the main aim was for companies and residents to be able to "catch their breath and stabilise their expectations'' in the current situation.

According to Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, distributors' margins are high enough to take on this "first wave" of price increases, which, according to the calculations( for diesel fuels that businesses predominantly use) at today's prices means encroaching on margins of 63 lipa per litre of diesel fuel.

The government's move in the first wave is considered to be correct because it has temporarily stopped a whole series of price increases, according to consultant Davor Stern.

In addition, oil circles are speculating about possible government moves which are yet to come, including the possibility of correcting a systemic injustice without interfering with the tax system by amending the basis for calculating VAT, which would result in lower prices for the end users.

In this sense, if the calculation were done on the price of fuel, and with excise duties from which fees on roads and railways are exempted, such a base would result in a reduction in prices overall.

For more, follow our politics section.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Minister Calls On Croatians To Be Active and Adopt Other Good Habits

ZAGREB, 16 Sept 2021 - On the occasion of European Mobility Week which started on Thursday, Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Tomislav Ćorić called on the Croatians to move as much as possible, to cycle and adopt other good habits and apply them in their daily lives.

"Physical activity is extremely important for our health, and walking, cycling and other sustainable solutions in transport contribute to the protection of the environment, nature, and climate", Minister Ćorić said.

European Mobility Week is European Commission's awareness-raising campaign on sustainable urban mobility and has been taking place every year from 16 to 22 September since 2002 to promote and encourage behavioral changes in favor of sustainable mobility solutions.

The theme of this year's edition is "Safe and Healthy with Sustainable Mobility", chosen in response to the challenges of the new everyday life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development said in the press release.

They called on citizens to maintain their physical and mental fitness, as well as take care of the environment and other people's health when choosing their transportation.

European Mobility Week calls for greater attention to the relation between mental health and urban mobility, which is a topic that gained importance during the pandemic.

Zagreb, Drniš, Zaprešić, Koprivnica, Kutina, Osijek, Rijeka, Pula, Varaždin and Cres take part

"Anxiety caused by traveling in a crowd or unavailability of information on travel details can lead to mental disorders. Therefore, in a pandemic, cities must do even more to create conditions in which citizens can move around safely, comfortably, and sustainably," the press release reads.

Numerous studies indicate that an active lifestyle reduces depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. Thirty minutes of walking or cycling is enough to improve mental health, and this will raise the general mood and quality of sleep, as well as reduce stress, anxiety, and fatigue.

This year, awareness-raising projects on the need for sustainable urban mobility have been submitted by the cities of Zagreb, Drniš, Zaprešić, Koprivnica, Kutina, Osijek, Rijeka, Pula, Varaždin, and Cres. This includes activities for European Mobility Week, the organization of Car-Free Day, and permanent measures through the introduction of innovative transport and traffic solutions.

For more on lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić: No Reason at the Moment for Electricity and Gas Price Hike

ZAGREB, 8 Sept, 2021 - Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Ćorić said on Wednesday that he does not see any reason that would lead to higher electricity and gas bills for citizens.

Asked ahead of an inner cabinet meeting whether electricity and gas bills would increase, Ćorić said that he did not see any reason at the moment for that to happen.

"There is no absolute certainty that that won't occur, however, I do not see any reason for it to happen," he said.

In reference to an electricity price hike for enterprises, Ćorić said that one needs to be aware of the fact that the domestic electricity market is liberalised and functions in line with European and global markets.

"Those enterprises who concluded long-term contracts last year will not feel the price hike in the coming period, however, those enterprises which are doing that now will feel the adjustment on the market," he underscored.

The assumption is that many enterprises have protected themselves against unexpected changes and Ćorić doesn't believe that the price hike for electricity will be as high as 40% as reported in the media over the past few days, however, he added, a certain adjustment in prices will occur.

"This tells us that business conditions need to be stabilised, that is to avoid certain risks, and that can be achieved so that prices are agreed for a longer period," said Ćorić.

Asked whether entrepreneurs who didn't manage to conclude long-term contracts would transfer the higher cost to its consumers by increasing the price of their products, Ćorić said that the price of electricity is one of the key inputs in production which directly results in an increase in the cost of production.

"You either have to decrease your margin or increase the price of your product. That is how the market functions," he concluded, adding that those enterprises which were astute and contracted the price of electricity can now provide more competitive products.

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

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

How Will Croatian Schengen and Eurozone Entry Help Exporters?

September the 7th, 2021 - The country's many exporters are set to have life made that bit easier for them with Croatian Schengen entry on the horizon, further aided by the country finally entering the Eurozone.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Coric recently said that for small and open economies, such as that boasted Croatia, exports are a prerequisite for development and survival.

"The country's GDP has been growing for years now, and of late, exports have been one of the main factors when it comes to economic growth and economic recovery. Exports recorded very good results even during pandemic-dominated 2020. This year, we've been recording a large recovery in terms of exports with 60 billion kuna, which is 11 billion kuna more than in pre-crisis 2019,'' said Coric.

He added that we must be careful in this analysis of the growth of the value of Croatian exports, because part of it is related to global inflation.

Minister Coric also pointed out that the achieved results are due to about 20,000 Croatian exporters who are the largest employers in the country, who also generate the largest share of total income and investments. He stated that both EU and national funds are a major source of funding for innovation and competitiveness of the domestic economy in the wake of the Green Plan.

"I'm aware of the challenges that Croatian exporters have been facing for years, and the Government is making great efforts to overcome bureaucratic obstacles for Croatian businessmen, and especially exporters, for greater growth and exports. By joining the Eurozone in two years, we'll take an additional step forward in eliminating exchange rate risks faced by Croatian entrepreneurs when doing business on our most important market - the single market.

In addition to the above, Croatian Schengen entry will be a benefit for all of the country's exporters because it will simplify and speed up mobility,'' concluded Minister Coric.

For more on Croatian Schengen and Eurozone entry, make sure to follow our politics section.

Sunday, 5 September 2021

Economy Minister Rules Out Lower VAT on Food This Year

ZAGREB, 5 Sept, 2021 - Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić said on Sunday that the Value Added Tax (VAT) on food would not be lowered this year, considering the fact that the economy has just started to stablise since the 2020 crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The reduction of the VAT rate cannot be implemented this year. We have just started to stabilise since the crisis in 2020. Such moves should be considered within medium-term perspectives, that is in one or two years," the minister said in his address to the press while attending his ministry's green campaign "#ZaZeleniSvakiDan" in downtown Zagreb.

The minister expects the stabilisation of the prices on the global market in the coming months and the effects of that trend on the Croatian market after that.

"The stabilisation of chains of distribution is a prerequisite for the stabilisation of price of food and also of construction material," he added.

The minister is hopeful that 2022 would usher in stabilisation, supported by some measures from the field of the monetary policy.

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Tuesday, 31 August 2021

320 Projects Awarded Funding for Investments in Digital and Green Transition

ZAGREB, 31 Aug, 2021 - A total of 842 project applications have been submitted to the public call "Strengthening the competitiveness of companies by investing in the digital and green transition", worth HRK 1.14 billion, and about 320 of them will receive funding, launching an investment cycle worth over HRK 3.6 billion.

At a press conference at the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, Minister Tomislav Ćorić recalled that the public call was open from 30 April to 31 May this year.

The call is intended for small and medium-sized enterprises in the manufacturing and processing industries, with the aim of strengthening their production capacities, and Ćorić pointed out that the source of funding was the REACT-EU instrument (Recovery Assistance for Cohesion and the Territories of Europe).

A number of project applications are from Sisak-Moslavina County, and according to preliminary data, 12 such project applications are worth over HRK 37 million.

The president of the HAMAG-BICRO agency, Vjeran Vrbanec, said that the total value of funding requested by entrepreneurs amounted to HRK 2.5 billion.

Ćorić: Similar calls to be published in coming period

Ćorić said that similar calls would be published in the coming period.

Such calls with a digital or green component will open up a large and necessary space for further strengthening the capacity and competitiveness of the domestic manufacturing and processing industries, he said.

He stressed that the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NPOO) implied continuous monitoring of new projects and support for new investments by Croatian entrepreneurs.

Direct grants from the NPOO to companies for transition to an energy and resource efficient economy will amount to HRK 1.9 billion in the coming period. In addition to that, HRK 960 million will be directed at innovation and digitisation, and HRK 1.1 billion at encouraging investments that are a prerequisite for a circular economy.

Also, financial instruments in the amount of HRK 2.3 billion aimed at investments and strengthening competitiveness will be available through HAMAG-BICRO and the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR).

"So, this is what can be expected in 2022 and 2023," the minister announced.

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Thursday, 19 August 2021

Economy Minister Expects Croatia's Growth in 2021 to be Above 5%

ZAGREB, 19 Aug, 2021 - Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Tomislav Ćorić told the press on Thursday that Croatia's economy would expand by more than five percent in 2021 on the back of excellent results in the tourist sector so far this year.

Considering the trends in the tourist season and results in July and in the first half of August, I can point out that we in the government expect that our forecasts of economic growth of more than five percent will turn out to be correct, he told reporters after the government's meeting.

If the positive trends in the tourist trade continue in the remainder of the season, the growth can be even higher, he said, adding that he is optimistic about that.

After a downturn of 8% in 2020, the Croatian economy is expected to rebound by 5.2% in 2021, according to the government's projections.

Ćorić added that the government had today decided to allocate HRK 30 million for the completion of an entrepreneurial centre in prefab containers in Petrinja.

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

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