Saturday, 24 July 2021

Ministar Ćorić Takes Part in Sea Clean-up Drive on Brač Island

ZAGREB, 24 July, 2021 - The Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Tomislav Ćorić, took part in an environmental drive on Saturday, cleaning up the seabed at one of the most famous tourist destinations in Croatia - Golden Cape Beach at Bol on the southern island of Brač.

It is one in a series of drives that will be held along the Croatian Adriatic coast by several diving clubs to protect the sea and nature from pollution and reduce the negative impact on marine habitats, the Ministry said in a statement.

"People are still not aware enough that the nature around us is the only one that we have. It is unbelievable how much waste people throw into the environment and the sea, even though there are legal and simple ways of waste disposal available. Of everyday items, one of the biggest polluters is single-use plastic packaging, which we have reduced to the maximum by the new Waste Management Act," Minister Ćorić said.

He called on people to think of their future and protect the environment for the sake of the generations to come, praising the participating organisations and individuals for helping keep the environment clean.

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Thursday, 22 July 2021

Ćorić: Common Day of Rest is Needed More Than Ever

ZAGREB, 22 July 2021 - Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić said on Thursday that the focus of amendments to the Commerce Act would-be workers and their families, noting that in the present time of growing alienation a common day of rest was needed more than ever.

Ćorić was speaking at a round table on non-working Sundays, held at the Croatian Catholic University. Participants agreed that a non-working Sunday was a "civilizational issue" that should be regulated by law, adding that it would not affect retail shops' sales, while some called for a further reduction of the 16 working Sundays annually as proposed by the government.

Ćorić said that the government would develop a new legal framework to regulate Sunday work in dialogue with the Church, universities, trade unions, and employers, making it a day for workers, their families, and friends.

Croatia is part of the western civilization, fostering the Christian tradition of keeping Sundays free of work, and these principles are embedded in European social values and constitute the social teaching of the Catholic Church, he said.

Ćorić said that people have the need and right to work, but they are increasingly becoming slaves to work. He cited the results of a survey showing that more than half of the respondents think that working on Sundays is a dysfunctional social phenomenon, while as many as two-thirds prefer jobs with non-working Sundays at the expense of lower pay.

This indicates that we are still a society that appreciates humane values, care for people and their families and that it has given the government the mandate to protect human dignity and social justice, the minister said.

MP Marijana Petir rejected claims by retail chains that their turnover is highest on Sundays and that they will make losses. Citing data from the Tax Authority, she said that the highest retail sales are generated on Fridays and that retail chains see the highest turnover on Saturdays.

Many studies have confirmed that Sunday work adversely affects workers' health, causing emotional exhaustion and continued stress, Petir said. As a minor exception, she said that farmers should be allowed to sell their products at markets and fairs on Sundays.

The chairman of the supervisory board of the KTC family-owned supermarket chain, Ivica Katavić, said that family shops should not be open on Sundays either, not even in the tourism sector. In 2018, his company decided not to work on holidays so that people can be with their families, and last year it decided to stay closed on Sundays. There were fears of what would happen with their revenues, but it turned out that their revenues were four percent higher in 2020 than in 2019.

The leader of the Croatian Independent Trade Unions, Krešimir Sever, noted that Switzerland, whose tourism revenue is three times as high as Croatia's, closes its shops at weekends.

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Thursday, 22 July 2021

An Additional €1m for Businesses in Quake-hit Sisak-Moslavina County

ZAGREB, 22 July 2021 - The government on Thursday decided to set aside an additional 7.6 million kuna for grants to micro and small businesses in Sisak-Moslavina County to help them to cope with the consequences of the 29 December devastating earthquake.

Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić recalled that on 29 January the government had decided to allocate ten million kunas for the support provided to the quake-affected businesses.

He said that as many as 872 applications had been sent since then and of them, more than 600 were eligible for funding.

The ministry established that the initial amount of the money would not suffice and therefore the allocation for grants for this purpose was today raised by an additional million euros.

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Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Economy Minister Ćorić on EC Plan to Reduce Gas Emissions

ZAGREB, 21 July, 2021 - Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Ćorić on Wednesday spoke of an informal EU meeting of environment ministers in Slovenia on new legislation on climate and the European Commission's recommendation to reduce greenhouse emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990.

He explained at a press conference that this refers to 12 legislative proposals from various areas that are being considered by EU member states in reference to the set objectives.

Ćorić said that this was an important step towards strengthening the EU as a leader in the fight against climate change.

Tax on carbon is a novelty - legislation is very ambitious

Ćorić explained that the new legislation envisages a carbon tax that should protect production in the EU compared to countries that export to the EU but are not encompassed by EU standards and mechanisms.

We are aware that if nothing is done in the next ten years, the potential costs of the damage could be much higher than the costs of transforming economies, he said.

With reference to financing that transformation, Ćorić said that Croatia has more than HRK 60 billion available over the next ten years to be spent in various commercial segments to reduce carbon emissions.

He underscored that the new legislation is very ambitious and a step towards Europe's economic transformation.

Price hikes to be eased with absorbed funds

He said that transition is a huge challenge and is being disputed by some but that it is also a huge opportunity for economies like Croatia through generous allocations of EU funds.

He recalled that Croatia's energy sector has a very small portion reliant on carbon, considering the significant share of hydro-power and potential for renewable sources.

Referring to the announcement for the construction of a new block at the Krško Nuclear Power Plant (NEK) in Slovenia, Ćorić said that that project could take up to a decade to be achieved, adding that Croatia has still not been officially informed of that project.

He recalled that obligations existed under international conventions for projects of that nature with a cross-border impact. Croatia has been advised of extending the lifespan of NEK to 2043.

He underscored that NEK is a stable source of energy and believes that it will continue to be so. He added that his ministry is interested in seeing more formal proposals to see whether Croatia would enter into a partnership with Slovenia regarding the construction of a new block at the Krško plant.

He added that Croatia was monitoring the situation with the Paks Nuclear Power Plant in Hungary because Croatia imports 30 to 45% of energy needs from abroad, depending on the hydrological situation.

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Thursday, 8 July 2021

Over 95% of Entrepreneurs to Receive HGK Fee Waiver Under New Law

ZAGREB, 8 July 2021 - The government on Thursday sent to the parliament a draft bill on the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) whereby the mandatory membership fee will be waived for more than 95% of entrepreneurs in Croatia, Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić said.

The bill envisages three categories of members.

The first group includes members who can apply for the fee waiver if they meet at least two of the following three criteria: their total assets do not exceed HRK 7.5 million, their annual revenues do not exceed 15 million kuna, and/or the number of people on their payroll is below 50.

The second category comprises those who surpass at least two of the above-mentioned criteria, however, they do not surpass the following three criteria: assets of 30 million kuna, their annual revenues do not go beyond HRK 60 million and the number of their employees is up to 250.

The third category includes those who surpass two of the requirements set forth for the second category.

Category 1 members will be exempt from the mandatory membership, however, they will pay additional services and products of the Chamber, as specified in the HGK price list.

They will be offered the possibility to pay voluntary membership aimed at stimulating the modernization of the workings of the chamber.

Members from Category 2 and 3 are supposed to pay the mandatory membership fee and the fee will be defined for each category on an annual basis.

The current legislation regulating the HGK was adopted in 1991. Under that law, the lion's share of members, that is 96.7%, pay a monthly fee of 42 kuna and have access to most of the services and products provided by the chamber.

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Saturday, 12 June 2021

NGO Says Croatia Again Shows Lack of Ambition in Fight Against Climate Change

ZAGREB, 12 June, 2021 - Despite efforts by 11 EU countries, energy ministers have not managed to say 'No' to the extension of fossil fuel subsidies for some cross-border energy projects and by supporting this, Croatia has once again demonstrated a lack of ambition in fighting climate change, the Green Action NGO has said.

EU ministers on Friday agreed to extend EU support for some cross-border gas projects despite efforts by 11 countries and the European Commission that had clearly said that such funding should be discontinued in line with climate goals. The Council reached agreement on a revision of the regulation on the trans-European energy grid, thus accepting a compromise text that will extend subsidies for gas projects.

"(Economy and Sustainable Development) Minister Tomislav Ćorić did not attend the meeting but a representative of his ministry endorsed that weak text and Croatia has thus once again confirmed a lack of ambition in the fight against climate change," the NGO warned.

The agreement was not endorsed by Germany, Spain, Austria and Luxembourg.

"Even though the world is on fire, too many member-states still want to extend the use of fossil fuels like natural gas," the Green Action says.

The agreement defines the way the European Commission picks priority projects of common interest which then get EU funding and environmental permits faster. That is how the LNG terminal on the island of Krk ended up on such a list of priority projects, despite opposition from the local community and public at large, the Green Action says, noting that natural gas would probably continue to dominate new projects.

"Even though we should redirect all subsidies to clean renewable energy sources, we will continue paying for unnecessary gas infrastructure and gas pipelines that transport gas mixed with small quantities of hydrogen. The European Parliament must now take a firm stand to end EU subsidies for all fossil fuels," says the Green Action.

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Friday, 26 March 2021

Grant Agreement Signed For Composting Plant in Metković

ZAGREB, 26 March, 2021 - A HRK 12.5 million EU grant agreement for the construction of a composting plant in the southern town of Metković was signed on Friday by Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Tomislav Ćorić and the director of the local Čistoća waste management company, Tomislav Jakić.

The project, which will be implemented as part of the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Cohesion 2014-2020, is worth more than HRK 24 million, of which 50% is co-financed by the EU.

Ćorić said that the composting plant would serve Metković as well as Opuzen and neighbouring communities.

The plant's annual capacity is 5,000 tonnes and it guarantees that biodegradable waste in the River Neretva valley will be managed in the best way possible, said the minister.

Dubrovnik-Neretva County head Nikola Dobroslavić said that Metković was the most advanced local government unit in terms of waste management.

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Friday, 19 March 2021

Advantages of Euro Currency Significant but Economy Needs to be More Flexible

ZAGREB, 19 March, 2021 - Croatia will enter the euro area on 1 January 2023 at the earliest, and introducing the euro has a number of advantages but for those advantages to be greater the economy needs to be more flexible, including with regard to the labour market, a conference heard on Friday.

The conference, focusing on the introduction of the euro as the official currency in Croatia, was organised by the students' association Financial Club.

Croatian National Bank (HNB) Governor Boris Vujčić said in his opening remarks that Croatia cannot enter the euro zone before 1 January 2023.

"Whether Croatia will enter the euro area on 1 January 2023 or a year or two later, depends on when it will meet the nominal convergence criteria," said Vujčić, recalling that in July 2020, Croatia entered the European Exchange Rate Mechanism II (ERM II), a sort of waiting room for the euro.

He explained that the ERM II envisaged a minimum two years of participation in it so that a candidate aspiring to join the euro area can meet the nominal convergence criteria (Maastricht criteria). On the other hand, if it does not satisfy the criteria, which refer to the stability of the exchange rate, prices and interest rates, the budget deficit and the level of foreign debt, a country can remain in the ERM II indefinitely, Vujčić said.

He recalled a survey indicating that citizens fear that with the introduction of the euro the standard of living will deteriorate and prices will increase. However, surveys in countries that have already introduced the euro indicate that prices increased by 0.23 percentage points on average in the year when the euro was introduced, mostly for everyday goods such as coffee. Prices of such products are relatively lower so their increase could have been relatively high due to rounding off.

"That left the impression in public that prices increased more than they did," explained Vujčić, underscoring that the standard of living did not fall in any country that introduced the euro but rather it improved.

Ćorić: Biggest advantage to companies exporting to euro area

Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Ćorić said that it was clear that citizens would not start living better on the first day of introducing the euro, however, what points to better prospects was the fact that the macro environment in the euro area was free of risks that non-member countries were faced with.

The risk premium in all countries that entered the euro area has dropped, said Ćorić, noting that that was something that in normal circumstances should  bring benefits to Croatia, such as reducing yields on long-term security instruments and lower interest rates on commercial and consumer loans.

Considering, however, that we live in "fairly radical economic times," and a period of very low interest rates, the effects which countries that entered the euro area some ten years ago had would be somewhat lower, however, they would still be significant, he said.

The advantages are potentially biggest for export-oriented companies considering that the exchange rate risk will be eliminated, he said.

Ćorić said that the project for euro introduction was not an end in itself but was primarily a very good tool for Croatia's long-term economic growth and development.

Mačkić: Flexibility of labour market, final goods and services market

President Zoran Milanovic's economic adviser, Velibor Mačkić, conveyed the president's message saying that it was necessary to discuss the benefits and potential harm of Croatia joining the euro area.

Mačkić believes that Croatia has not developed its own institutions sufficiently and that that poses a problem. "The country needs a different economy, a much more flexible economy, to be able to benefit more significantly from the monetary union," said Mačkić.

He added that the labour market and the market of final products and services need to be more flexible.

Mačkić underlined the importance of an efficient fiscal policy and of the reform of the tax system which Mačkić believes needs to change from "a consumption-based to income-based tax system."

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Thursday, 18 March 2021

Minister Tomislav Ćorić Visits Recycling Yard Worth HRK 3 Million in Novi Marof

ZAGREB, 17 March, 2021 - A recycling yard worth HRK 3 million and co-financed by EU funds has been constructed in Novi Marof, and during his visit on Wednesday, Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić said that the northwestern part of Croatia has progressed more than other parts of the country in terms of waste management.

The recycling yard in Novi Marof was co-financed from the Cohesion Fund in the amount of more than HRK 2.5 million, while the entire project is worth over HRK 3 million.

Novi Marof Mayor Siniša Jenkač underscored that the recycling yard was a continuation of the policy of efficient and responsible waste management in that northern Croatian city.

"In addition, the remediation of our landfill Čret is currently in its final phase, and it cost a total of HRK 17.5 million, including 30 years of monitoring," he said, adding that they had also procured waste sorting containers.

The remediation of the Čret landfill was co-financed with HRK 13.3 million of EU funds.

According to Jenkač, when it comes to total financing with European money, about HRK 40 million has been invested in waste management in the area of Novi Marof.

(€1 = HRK 7.6)

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Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Croatia Marking World Wildlife Day

ZAGREB, 3 March 2021 - World Wildlife Day, observed on 3 March, is this year dedicated to forest ecosystems and the related species.  

Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Tomislav Ćorić has said that the survival and wellbeing of people depend on forests and that everyone is responsible for their preservation.

"In Croatia forests cover around 45% of the land territory, and they are natural to a large extent. The species in as many as 95% of forests in the country are natural and autochthonous, which is rare not only in Europe but globally as well," the minister said, pointing to the great importance of forests and warning against their unsustainable use.

He recalled that in order to stop global deforestation, the European Commission in 2019 published the communication "Stepping up EU Action to Protect and Restore the World's Forests", and that as part of its strategy for the preservation of biodiversity in the period until 2030, the EC had prepared an ambitious plan to restore nature, including a plan to put 10% of land areas under strict protection, as part of which all the remaining primeval forests in Europe will be mapped and protected.

In 2021, a special EU strategy for forests will be put forward, in line with the EU's biodiversity and climate neutrality ambitions, and it will include an action plan for the planting of at least three billion new trees in the EU in the period until 2030, in line with ecological criteria.

Zagreb ZOO: Red list contains more than 15,200 animal species

Zagreb ZOO traditionally marks World Wildlife Day to raise public awareness of the importance of preserving plant and animal species.

It warns that the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species currently contains more than 15,200 animal species, including 38 species that have become extinct in nature and that survive exclusively thanks to human care.

Two of those species can be seen at Zagreb ZOO - the scimitar oryx and the Socorro dove, the zoo has said.

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