Tuesday, 4 January 2022

Croatian Enterprise Owner Find for Not "Calibrating" Old Wooden Metre

January the 4th, 2022 - Just when you might think things are beginning to move in the right direction, a Croatian enterprise owner gets fined for 4,500 kuna for failing to ''calibrate'' an old wooden metre. We'd love an explanation as to how that would ever, on any planet, be possible.

As totalinfo.hr writes, on the Voice of the Entrepreneurs Association's Facebook page called Measures and Reforms for Croatia 2.0, you can read a variety of comments about how often small Croatian-owned businesses are punished unfairly for next to nothing or even for quite comical situations that you'd expect any normal inspector to overlook entirely.

What is even worse is that business owners are immediately and usually without question punished with fines without prior warning, accompanied by the requirement that any shortcomings be eliminated within a certain period of time - or else.

The best evidence of this is the announcement by Ljiljana Ivkovic, a Croatian enterprise owner, who stated the following shocking statement on the aforementioned Facebook page:

“I owned a store. The inspectors came and fined me, a 3000 kuna fine for the company to pay and a 1500 kuna fine for me to pay as the responsible person, because my wooden metre rule I used to take measurements had ''passed its expiry date'', I hadn't calibrated it for two years since I'd bought it. I'll write more about the saga that surrounding the ''calibration' of the old wooden metre rule on another occasion because it would take too long to explain it all. There's a complicated procedure involved if you don't calibrate it on time.''

Vesna Duvancic, another member of the group, asked a valid question: How on Earth does one calibrate a wooden metre? God...

The answers which came in following Vesna's question were both funny and creative, imagining how one has to pay visits in person to various special offices just for that purpose, much like one has to do when it comes to just about anything else imaginable in this country.

There were many more comments following Lilijana's rather remarkable wooden metre situation, and many of them pointed out how she as a Croatian enterprise owner, as well as many others, exist solely to feed thousands of "uhljebs" and how it is really unacceptable to take money from small business owners in such a horrendous way.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Friday, 8 October 2021

Associations Call for Lifting Restrictions on Work of Night Clubs, Bars

ZAGREB, 8 Oct 2021 - The Voice of Entrepreneurs association and an association of owners of night clubs and bars have called for lifting restrictions on the work of such establishments, which is now limited to midnight, noting that many operate illegally despite the restrictions on working hours.

The two associations warn that the national COVID-19 response team "has been insisting, without real and science-based arguments, on the decision to restrict the work of night clubs and bars until midnight" while some coffee shops and restaurants are turning into night clubs despite epidemiological restrictions and operate illegally.

"We have been witnessing media reports about illegal parties in Zagreb while many indoor clubs and bars remain closed. The ban on the work of night clubs and bars is the reason why thousands of young people travel to neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia as there are no such restrictions there, prices and VAT are lower, and there is no tax on consumption. There are no restrictions on the work of night clubs and their visitors do not have to show COVID-19 certificates or get tested," the two associations say.

They call on the national COVID-19 response team to lift the current restrictions on night clubs as they encourage illegal work while young people are still not getting vaccinated at a desired rate.

For more on business, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Petrinja Container Business Centre Breathes Life into Post-Quake Town

September 30, 2021 -The New Life Centre is a Petrinja container business centre offering locals the chance to go back to their businesses as the town still awaits the completion of its post-earthquake reconstruction.

The container settlements of Petrinja, the aftermath of the December 29 earthquake, are certainly not a cheery place to live as the locals await the reconstruction of their Central Croatian town to be completed.

The reconstruction process isn't over just yet, but the spark of hope for a new, better life after a tough year can be seen with the opening of the New Life Centre.

''The New Life Centre is a cluster of new, painted containers that have been stacked for months in Petrinja's neighbourhood of Sajmište,'' as described by Miroslav Šantek, the author for the local website PS-Portal. The first traders, workers, and craftsmen have already settled in, happy for a taste of near normality.

PS-Portal states that this idea was suggested by the Voice of Entrepreneurs Association (Udruga Glas Poduzetnika) to the then-mayor of Petrinja, Darinko Dumbovic.

''The idea was accepted, and then work on the infrastructure began. But, in typical Croatian fashion, there are always setbacks. The obvious lack of money slowed down the progress. Then came new town administration and new mayor Magdalena Komes who cooperated with the Croatian Government and got 30 million kuna to continue the construction of the centre,'' explained PS-Portal.

The deadlines, however, have been breached and it is uncertain when the Petrinja container business centre will actually be finished.

Nonetheless, business owners who could no longer wait for the complete conclusion of construction set up their businesses and started to work as the state aid dried out, and they wanted to go back to making a living for their families.

As PS-Portal continues, yesterday's opening morning was cold, but there was joy on that small square of container settlements. Citizens of Petrinja can now enjoy the offer of a big international cosmetic chain, but also smaller shops, a pizzeria, and grill diners run by local entrepreneurs.

Despite the lack of a grand opening due to ongoing construction works, Mayor Komes still visited and talked to entrepreneurs who started their businesses. She explained that the increase of construction material and the lack of construction workers are the reason for delays in the Petrinja container business centre's completion.

''Numerous Petrinja-based entrepreneurs lost their space to work after the earthquake. They worked in containers or in the few rental spaces one could find in the almost destroyed town. This modular centre is designed as a space for everyone who has lost theirs,'' writes Glas Istre.

The December earthquake in Petrinja, as well as the March earthquake in Zagreb, caused lots of problems for the residents of these areas. As TCN previously wrote, after a whole year of slow reconstruction progress, Croatian PM Andrej Plenković promised to speed up the reconstruction processes in September. Back in July, several education institutions got financial support for reconstruction, while museums, such as the School Museum in Zagreb, still awaits help.

The dreadful experience of the earthquake in Sisak, Zagreb, and Petrinja also woke up Croatian artists, such as Miroslav Arbutina Arba. You can see his photos of the Sisak earthquake in the Zagreb Contemporary Art Museum exhibition until October 10.

Not too far from Petrinja is Lonjsko Polje Nature Park, and you can learn more about it in our TC guide

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

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Associations Say National COVID Team Unjust Towards Night Clubs, Bars

ZAGREB, 19 Sept, 2021 - The Voice of Entrepreneurs and the Night Clubs and Bars Association say it is pointless that night clubs and bars are not allowed to stay open after midnight and that this decision by the national COVID-19 crisis management team is unjust, notably now that almost all of the EU has lifted restrictions on them.

Night clubs and bars have paid the highest price of the pandemic, the two associations said in a press release on Sunday.

The national team is not considering allowing night clubs to stay open without restrictions, provided that COVID rules are complied with, as though they are the only ones to blame for the insufficient vaccination rate in Croatia and rise in infections, the statement said.

The associations said that if night clubs were allowed to operate indoors without restrictions, with the use of COVID certificates, that might encourage young people to get vaccinated.

By ignoring the constitutional right to work, the activity of night clubs and the hundreds of night club owners and their families are being marginalised, the press release said.

Despite the government's job-retention aid and compensation for fixed costs, night club and bar owners cannot avoid closures and bankruptcies, it added.

Every individual must take responsibility for their health, the associations said, adding that by not allowing night clubs and bars to work in order to protect people who refused to get vaccinated, the national COVID team was bringing into question the purpose of vaccination.

They said they had not worked for 18 months and asked Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to try and live nine months without pay.

They told the national team to immediately open night clubs and bars, provided that COVID rules were complied with, or take responsibility for the ruin of the entertainment industry.

For more on COVID-19, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 9 April 2021

The Voice of Entrepreneurs Association: Proposed National Recovery Plan Will Destroy Chance of Recovery

ZAGREB, 9 April, 2021 - The Voice of Entrepreneurs association considers that the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, as proposed by the government, will destroy the chances for economic recovery, and calls for a radical change in the document.

In order for the National Recovery and Resilience Plan to have a greater impact, priority should be given to investments in the private sector, the association said in a statement issued on Friday.

Entrepreneurs think that the plan will not direct enough funds to small and medium-sized enterprises and that that will have a negative impact on the entire economy.

Unlike other countries, they add, Croatia does not intend to direct most of the funds from the recovery plan to the business sector and the most affected companies, sectors and citizens.

The current recovery and resilience plan relies mainly on state and local government projects and projects with low and long-term returns, and in some cases negative returns, which is contrary to the general goal of rapid recovery, the association said.

It is true, they add, that the plan envisages distributing 54% of the funds for the business sector and 46% for reforms in the public sector, but the 54% intended for the business sector includes investments in public companies that have so far demonstrated low efficiency, such as wastewater projects, waste management, road and transport infrastructure construction.

The National Recovery and Resilience Plan is thus not aimed at helping the private sector and encouraging the competitiveness of the Croatian economy, the association of entrepreneurs said, stressing that the existing plan is not oriented towards rapid recovery of domestic demand, investment in high return projects and technological innovation.

They call for prioritising private sector investment and focusing on high return projects.

Last week, the government presented the National Recovery and Resilience Plan for 2021-2026, which contains project proposals in six areas, worth a total of HRK 49.08 billion.

Of that, 54% is intended for projects in the business sector, 15% for education, science and research, 12% for building reconstruction, 10% for public administration and justice, 5% for health care and 4% for the labour market and social protection.

Digitisation and green energy transition feature in all six areas in the document.

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

Friday, 26 March 2021

Voice of Entrepreneurs: Government Has Not Helped Travel Agencies

ZAGREB, 26 March, 2021 - The Voice of Entrepreneurs association warned on Friday of the difficult position of travel agencies in a year of the pandemic, during which they had lost over 90% of revenue, adding that the government had done nothing to help them.

"The media say that travel agencies have received billions of kuna in aid from the state, which is simply not true. Also, (Education) Minister Fuchs and (Tourism) Minister Brnjac are asking travel agencies to find the money to return vouchers given to passengers, and a new law is being mentioned, under which the agency is obliged to give its clients a refund within 15 days. However, it isn't said that travel agencies have on average lost over 90% of revenue over the past year," the association said in a press release.

It added that the owners of travel agencies could not get loans to refund their clients, that they were forced to sell their own real estate to cover the expenses and that they had not received a single penny of help from the state or any other institution.

The only aid they received is HRK 4,000 monthly grant for workers, but for every employee, the employer has to cover the additional cost of transport and other fixed costs, for which no solution has been found to date, the association said.

It said that fixed costs had not been covered either, and since they were closed, agencies could not cover all the costs.

Travel agencies "were not closed by the decision of the national civil protection team, but their operation is completely restricted by government measures," the association stressed.

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

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Entrepreneurs Welcome Relaxation, Urge Government to Adopt Economy Bailout Plan

ZAGREB, 11 February, 2021 - The Voice of Entrepreneurs association said on Thursday it was glad the government had agreed to most of its demands, but added that much stronger steps were needed to save thousands of firms and employees, asking the government and the Economy Ministry to urgently present an economy bailout plan.

The association welcomed the fact that as of 15 February, gyms, fitness centres, betting shops, casinos and foreign language schools will be allowed to reopen and bars to sell coffee and other beverages to go.

However, that is not enough and the government keeps ignoring the event industry, occasional passenger transport, travel agencies and many other activities which have been closed for almost a year, the association said in a press release.

Many micro, small and medium businesses will fold because the government has not adopted adequate economic measures since the start of the epidemic, the association said, demanding compensation of at least HRK 100,000 per business with a minimum 60% drop in turnover as well as that all businesses with a major drop in turnover be reimbursed for their fixed costs.

Measures are being adopted only for job-retention, while business costs are much higher and credit lines and grants are difficult to obtain, the association said.

Association president Hrvoje Bujas said that if the government had the money to buy fighter jets and energy group MOL's stake in INA, it should have the money "to adequately compensate entrepreneurs."

The association said that although restrictions were being eased, the criteria were still not equal, noting that gyms were allowed to reopen but sport centres and dance schools were not, as were casinos but bars and restaurants with outdoor terraces were not.

It urged the government and the national COVID-19 response team "to finally align all the measures and adapt them to the current situation."

Saturday, 6 February 2021

New Voice of Entrepreneurs Association Protest on February 26 if Nothing Changes

February 6, 2021 - The Voice of Entrepreneurs Association protest gathered at least 5,000 people on Wednesday in Zagreb, according to estimates. Executive Director of the Voice of Entrepreneurs Association, Dražen Oreščanin, announced the continuation of similar actions if nothing changes, most likely at the end of February. 

Index.hr reports:

"At the end of the month, on Friday, February 26, we will again organize a protest at Ban Jelačić Square if the epidemiological situation improves and discriminatory measures against entrepreneurs continue. We are also asking the government for fair compensation for closing facilities because all they give us now is only 25 to 30 percent of the revenue we have lost. In contrast, Germany and Austria's governments, for example, give their entrepreneurs compensation of 70 to 75 percent of the lost revenue and thus save them. This does not only apply to cafes, which are closed, but also in activities such as the event industry, occasional transport, travel agencies, and tourist guides, which can work but due to the measures, they have practically no one, which puts them in a challenging situation," explains the executive director of the Voice of Entrepreneurs Association, Dražen Oreščanin.

He adds that entrepreneurs are asking the government to finally adopt a "corona traffic light" based on which it would be determined which epidemiological measures are being adopted in which conditions. He notes that something like this should be adopted at the regional level, which would enable entrepreneurs and citizens to prepare for certain measures.

Oreščanin emphasizes that entrepreneurs are not against epidemiological measures, but they are against their selective application, so some entrepreneurs are denied the right to work.

"We do not interfere in epidemiological measures; we respect them. We also called at the protest that all those gathered adhere to epidemiological measures. However, we demand that the government treat us all equally and that we all have equal rights," Oreščanin said.

He also criticizes the government for insufficient communication with entrepreneurs and calls out the Voice of Entrepreneurs for politicking, which he strongly rejects. Entrepreneurs, he says, are on the brink, and their situation is deteriorating. In such conditions, they have no choice but to take to the streets and warn of problems.

"We expect the government to start behaving like governments in democracies finally. Instead of communicating with us, it tries to discourage and discredit us and throws spins to portray us as enemies of the Headquarters and the state. But that's not the case, the government doesn't communicate with us," points out Oreščanin.

But all this comes at a price, and in the crisis, which continues this year, the state treasury will hardly have enough money to feed all appetites. Especially if it turns out that the recovery will go much slower than expected.

In such conditions, economic analyst Damir Novotny warns that the straw of salvation for Plenković's government should be provided by money from EU funds. But, he says, the government will have to work harder for that. First, it should quickly adopt a program to use Union funds and speed up its withdrawal, rather than procrastinate, as before.

"Croatia has a lot of money at its disposal, allocated by Brussels, a total of over 20 billion euros, and that money should be used. The government must not bureaucratize and delay but should adopt a plan for using that money. That money can save us from social collapse because the implementation of the projects financed by it will stimulate economic growth and demand for labor," Novotny explains for Index.

Novotny also sees a chance to hire an increasing number of unemployed in the reconstruction of Zagreb and other areas affected by the earthquakes. Reconstruction projects will require a lot of manpower and various profiles.

He also says that he does not expect major social unrest in Croatia for the time being. Still, he also warns that the continuation of the corona crisis also means the collapse of some companies, which will result in higher unemployment. The domino effect could also be social unrest.

"If the crisis continues, there will be social problems," Novotny said.

However, Croatia should also start working on the challenges that await it even after the corona crisis. Namely, it is already clear, Novotny points out, that it will take years for tourism to return to the levels before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, and companies will have to survive in that period as well. He also believes that several activities, including catering, should work on digitally transforming their business. Besides, companies should no longer be put in a position if they have not accumulated enough capital for future crises.

"Changes in the structure of the Croatian economy can be expected. The importance of modern industry and construction will increase, and the role of tourism and catering will decrease. Also, we will have to try to attract more foreign investment," Novotny concluded.

To read more about COVID-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Thursday, 4 February 2021

My First Protest: What I Learned at UGP Entrepreneur Protest in Zagreb

February 4, 2021 - Organised by the Voice of Entrepreneurs Assocciation (UGP), a protest against what are allegedly discriminatory epidemiological measures was held yesterday on Ban Jelačić Square in Zagreb. Through loud chanting, thousands of people supported the abolition of parafiscal levies and mandatory membership fees. They even demanded the departure of Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić. However, as I talked to the protesters, I realised those were not the only reasons people showed up on Zagreb's main square yesterday. Here's what I learned at yesterday's UGP entrepreneur protest in Zagreb.

As I was at a protest for the first time, I expected it to be more organised, moreover due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But since I can’t compare this protest to any other, I just continued to watch what happened.

IMG_20210203_100024.jpgProtesters with the banner saying "Let us work" / Donatella Pauković

In the first few minutes, after the first speaker started to talk, it was clear to me that the protest was not only about entrepreneurs being deprived of work during the coronavirus pandemic, but a lot of people used the opportunity to gather and show their dissatisfaction with many other problems that Croatia faces.

"Why can't Croatia be economically strong?" read one of the most significant banners of this protest, which indicated that Croatia has all the conditions to be a prosperous country, but it is not. The epidemiological measures owing to which entrepreneurs (most of them caterers) are at risk were clearly just a trigger for expressing dissatisfaction that goes much further.


Banners saying "We are entrepreneurs, and you?", "It's enough", "Entrepreneurs are partners, not a burden!", "Why Croatia?" / Donatella Pauković

A historic day?

I met a young and energetic guy. Is he a young entrepreneur, a caterer? I wondered. I was interested in what brought him to the protest.

"I came to say that I don't agree with the direction in which this country is going. I don't agree with the Government's economic and social policies. I don't agree with what the Government, the ruling majority, and the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), led by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, are doing," said 21-year-old David Lisica, a computer science student at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing in Zagreb.

He doesn't plan to leave Croatia. However, he wants us all to build Croatia together, and I identify with him. Therefore, one of the motives for his coming to the protest was the hope for a better tomorrow.

"I think it's bad politics and I think I have the right to say it. I'm not here to cause destruction but to say that something is wrong. When something is wrong, it should be said that it is not right, and it should be changed," this young student clearly pointed out.

He was bothered by the discrimination towards entrepreneurs and the private sector, which has only been deepened by this coronavirus crisis. In addition, he couldn't believe that there was so much contempt for the opposition by the ruling party, and he considered it shameful.

That's why he made a banner saying "Andrej, it's enough." As David said, the famous banner, seen on many photos from the protest, will even be included in the historical material of the Croatian History Museum!


Student David Lisica with his banner "Andrej, it's enough" / Donatella Pauković

According to some estimates, the protest gathered five thousand people, if not more. Given what Croatia needs, said David, every protest that has been organised in Croatia so far has attracted too few people.

"We don't need a rebellion, a revolution. No anarchy, no demolition! We need people who will say 'It's not right - change this and that!' Economic policy, uhljebljivanje, mandatory membership and contributions to the Croatian Chamber of Commerce and the Tourist Board – we do not need that. Entrepreneurs and craftsmen should not be whipped with parafiscal levies – these are not taxes, they are levies," David says, pointing out that it would be fine if that money would be invested in something useful, but it isn't.

I watched the gathered crowd. Both older and younger people were all protesting. At one point, social distancing fell into the background and then I got a little scared for my health. I was surrounded by people shouting, and some of them didn’t even wear masks, against which the organisers explicitly warned, but without much success. Luckily, I quickly got out of the way.

Expectedly, there were even some drunk people, using the situation to relax at least a little and thus experience the "old normal." Gathering at the protest was even an opportunity for some to see each other after a long time, which, understandably, they took advantage of. So, for example, maybe some fellow caterers from Slavonia and Dalmatia finally saw each other and chatted.

Apart from chanting and whistling, applause even broke out for a man breaking through the crowd with a tray in his hand, offering protesters coffee to go in cups designed specifically for the occasion. "It's enough," read the inscription on it.


Symbolic coffee to go with the inscription saying "It's enough" / Donatella Pauković

'Instead of law, justice must be introduced'

When those gathered had already begun to disperse, and the most persistent continued to protest, my attention was drawn to a sympathetic and seemingly accommodating man with a large banner. However, what he told me has specially taken me aback.

Tomislav Vukorepa, an entrepreneur from Šibenik, besides coming to Zagreb to support all entrepreneurs who are in a very difficult situation, came to point out one big problem.

"We lost five citizens in a shooting in Šibenik, our citizens of Šibenik," Vukorepa began his story, explaining his banner that read "Pleković, enough of the harrowing, kill me now."


Entrepreneur Tomislav Vukorepa with his banner "Plenković, enough of the harrowing, kill me now" / Donatella Pauković

"I wrote this because the direct cause of the shooting in Šibenik, in which five people were killed, is a catastrophic judiciary. Who knows how many more such cases are 'cooking' in the whole of Croatia! We have to open our eyes because there's no point in being brutally warned in such a way every now and then. Something urgently needs to change here. Instead of law, justice must be introduced. And that’s a big difference, because the one who is stronger always takes the right to himself and oppresses the one who is weaker. Therefore, justice and truth should come to power in Croatia," Vukorepa said.

He believes that it's time for the citizens of the whole of Croatia let it be known that this is not the way to go.

"Those in power should listen a little better to what the citizens tell them, because this country exists because of the citizens, not because of them," concluded Vukorepa, whose business of sound systems for concerts and festivals has died out in the last six months.


UGP entrepreneur protest in Zagreb / Donatella Pauković

As I have already said, and in the few minutes of talking to this man I confirmed, this was not only a protest against epidemiological restrictions, but also against a system in which the voice of the little man is hardly ever heard.

After two hours on the main Zagreb square, I thoughtfully left the protest. What seemed at the beginning to be an inarticulate presentation of views on the current situation in Croatia, actually proved to be well-founded. What seemed like a protest against the impossibility of drinking coffee for hours, which is the Croatian national sport, has, unfortunately, a much deeper foothold.

I realised that if you want to warn someone about something, a protest is one of the few places where someone will hear or notice you, if you have a banner with a good inscription. You might end up in the headlines as well.

All in all, the real effects of the Croatian entrepreneurs' protest in Zagreb will only be seen in the coming months. We're waiting for new steps to be made by those in power, hoping that this time the majority will be satisfied. And that we will soon be able to sit down and have coffee somewhere, which may, at least for those few hours, ease our souls.

To read more news from Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Bujas and Oreščanin: Why Should You Come to Zagreb Protest? Because There are Two Croatias

February 3, 2021 - On Wednesday at 10 am, a protest of entrepreneurs and caterers will be held at the main square in Zagreb. Voice of Entrepreneurs President Hrvoje Bujas and Executive Director Dražen Oreščanin on why you should attend the Zagreb protest. 

The Voice of Entrepreneurs Association initiated the action. It was planned to warn of the inequality of epidemiological measures and insufficient economic measures for companies affected by the corona crisis. It gained an extra dimension after the repression of several entrepreneurs and caterers who opened their premises in protest on Monday, culminating in the detention of gym owner Andrija Klarić.

Index.hr asked the key players of Voice of Entrepreneurs why they think people should come to Ban Jelačić Square on Wednesday at 10 am.

Oreščanin: The main reason for coming to the protest are the statements of Plenković and Ćorić
UGP Executive Director Dražen Oreščanin says that the key reasons in recent days have been given by the Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and the Minister of Economy Tomislav Ćorić.

"I think the main reason why every citizen should come to the Square could be heard in recent days from Prime Minister Plenković and Minister Ćorić. The way they talked about UGP, a citizens' association, and the way they talked about political opponents shows that they have no understanding of what democracy is and that they have no understanding of the people, to whom power belongs in democratic regimes."

"We don't know if we should laugh or cry; we can understand their statements as a threat."
He once again referred to the statements of Ćorić and Plenković.

"One does not know whether they should laugh or cry at their accusations. Minister Ćorić's statements last night during Otvoreno and Prime Minister Plenković's statements can be read as an open threat. The first concrete action to show that the threat is serious is the arrest of gym owner Andrija. It is a serious derogation from democratic principles; we as a nation must fight for our rights," Oreščanin said.

"We are fighting for a country of happy citizens that will not be held hostage by politics."
"We are fighting by absolutely legal means for the rights of entrepreneurs, employees, all citizens, and for Croatia 2.0, a country of happy citizens that will not be held hostage by politics," he added.

Several thousand people are expected to protest.

"Over 3,200 people signed up on Facebook, over 1,200 through official registrations, and at least 800 caterers and about 200 people from Rijeka should arrive. It is realistic to expect from 1,000 to 5,000 people, and maybe more," says Oreščanin.

An appeal to all who come to protest
He appeals to everyone who comes to the Square to adhere to epidemiological rules and general rules of conduct.

"It is necessary for everyone at the Square to adhere to epidemiological measures and for everyone who will make a statement to be polite, to express their opinion in a dignified manner. It is essential to keep in mind that people may be involved as provocateurs even after these threats from the top authorities. That is why we appeal to people not to fall prey to any provocations," he noted.

"Andrija Klarić said he would come and invited everyone to come."
He said that the detained gym owner was also coming, who was released last night.

"Andrija Klarić said that he would come and he invited everyone to come, we will help him in the legal battle," said Oreščanin.

"We believe that it will be the day when the government will finally start listening to the citizens and working in the interest of the citizens."

He sent a clear message ahead of the protest.

"Our message is in the entrepreneurial sense that there must be no discrimination, that people should be fairly compensated and that measures should be fair, but it is also broader than that. The message to Plenković is that we are not a small group of instigators; there are people in this country who have the right to rule. In democracies, the government is there to serve its people, not to humiliate, insult and drive them into pens like sheep. We believe that tomorrow will be the day when the government will finally start listening to the citizens and working in the interest of the citizens," Oreščanin concluded.

Bujas: It is crystal clear that staying at home or acting on Facebook has not achieved anything all this time
Index also asked the President of the Voice of Entrepreneurs, Hrvoje Bujas, the same question - why does he think that people should come to the protest at Ban Jelačić Square?

"It is crystal clear that nothing has been achieved by staying at home or acting on Facebook all this time. We have not received any adequate economic measures or a clear plan when it comes to epidemiological measures.

We demand that others who are on their knees and who have a large drop in traffic be compensated, but also that the implementation of all this is far, far more efficient. It is up to two, two and a half months late with the compensation of 4,000 kuna, which is actually paid to the employees," Bujas said.

He said that their message was much broader than economic measures for the corona crisis and aimed at changing Croatian society for the better.

"All of you who dream of a fairer Croatia - come to the square."
"We are looking for key reforms; we can't say it doesn't matter because we are all very concerned. Let all the people who come to the Square say what they think, we will set up a camera, and everyone will have thirty seconds to say what they have. Let the government see that there is a Croatia that is thrown to its knees that does not know what will happen tomorrow. We expect from the government a clear plan for vaccination and measures, which we never received, and we expect reforms.

All of you who want to hear a clear plan, who are looking for efficient economic measures, who dream of a fairer Croatia, come to the Square," Bujas said.

He says they have been treated as enemies by the authorities in recent days.

"It is not clear to me why Plenković tolerates Ćorić, who is the main reason for the failure of the negotiations."
"The Voice of Entrepreneurs has been giving a hand to those in power since day one, which is normal if we want to achieve some changes, but we cannot be manipulated, and it bothers them. I can even publicly praise most ministers, except one - Tomislav Ćorić. He never answered our email, he did not want to be found, and de facto interrupted the negotiations that were going in the right direction. My question is why Plenković tolerates Ćorić. I can't figure it out. We remain persistent in demanding Ćorić's resignation. We are looking for a man who can give a solution, not deepen the crisis. The direct culprit for the termination of negotiations and for our taking to the streets is Minister Ćorić. In a way, we are also endangering our health, although everyone at the Square will adhere to all measures. I received a positive rapid test for COVID-19, and I will certainly not come to the Square tomorrow to endanger anyone's health, but that is the only reason I will stay at home. I call on everyone who comes to adhere to epidemiological measures and to be responsible people; I understand the frustration, but let us show an example of how to behave in a public space and how to keep healthy," Bujas told Index.

"There are two Croatias. In one Croatia, people go to the stock market, and in the other, everything is fine, and salaries are still rising."
But he says that doesn't mean people at the protest shouldn't say what they think.

"Say everything that is on your mind because they obviously live in another Croatia, where everything is fine. There are two Croatians. In one Croatia, people go to the stock exchange, and in the other, everything is fine, and salaries are still rising. Why don't they hear that there is also that Croatia where everything is not right, where people are on their knees? Who are we insulting when we tell the truth? " Bujas wonders.

"Any repression at the protest would be the twilight of democracy."
He hopes there will be no problems with the police at the protest, which reacted rather repressively on Monday when some entrepreneurs and caterers opened their facilities in protest.

"Any repression at the protest would be the twilight of democracy; these are people who want to say everything they think."

Mate Janković: Why will I be at the Square? Because I don’t want to play under these rules anymore
The famous chef Mate Jaković, who has been cooking in Banija with other volunteer chefs in recent weeks, also announced his arrival at the protest.

He explained why he was coming to the protest.

"Why will I be at the Square on Wednesday at 10.00? It has nothing to do with Covid or the measures. The business climate in this country was bad before Covid. We were backward, corrupt, and a bad society before, and there is a huge chance that we will stay that way after Covid. That's the main reason I'm coming. Nothing in my life has motivated me enough to go out on the road and express dissatisfaction, but grumbling on Facebook is no longer an option. I can no longer stand by and act like I don't care because it's just not true. I've had enough. I'll either try to change as much as possible, or I'll go to another country and build my life there. But under these rules, I don't want to play anymore," Janković wrote.

The protest announcement 
The Voice of Entrepreneurs Association previously published an announcement of the protest in which it explained its reasons for the protest.

"If entrepreneurs and workers are banned from working, which is a constitutional and human right, they should be adequately compensated. Why is Croatia not a country equal for all, for those in the public and those in the private sector? Why are entrepreneurs second-class citizens who are not cared for by their government? It is time to hear the voice of the people, the voice of reason, and the voice of entrepreneurs! We invite all entrepreneurs, craftspeople, employees, and citizens to join us. Each of them will say, from 10 am on the Square, one by one, and through live stream: Enough is enough! Enough bad crisis management! It is enough that entrepreneurs and employees in the private sector are second-class citizens. Why is Croatia not a country of equals?" reads the beginning of the protest announcement published by the Voice of Entrepreneurs.

"The Government of the Republic of Croatia and the National Civil Protection Headquarters have been destroying micro, small and medium enterprises for months with inconsistent, discriminatory, and bad decisions. Many entrepreneurs have had their constitutional right to work revoked without any compensation. Unlike many European countries, Croatia has not taken a single step to compensate entrepreneurs. If the right to work is prohibited, it should be adequately compensated. However, the Government of the Republic of Croatia does not seem to want to understand that. Entrepreneurs care about their health and respect the government's decisions, even when they are illogical and discriminatory. But this action is a painful cry with which we want to say: The Government of the Republic of Croatia, you have forgotten those who feed you. Recall, job preservation measures are helpful for workers, not for companies. Fixed costs will be reimbursed in just two months to those who are formally closed, while for all others, some of which have a drop in turnover of more than 90 percent, no one cares, not even our Ministry of Economy. If this continues, there will be no jobs to be saved at all," they write.

They added that they had enough of the highest taxes in Europe.

"Well, we have had enough of the injustice that entrepreneurs have suffered since the beginning of the crisis, we have had enough of the highest taxes in the European Union, we have had enough of double standards, and we have had enough of discriminatory decisions. We believe that we have everything we need to be a prosperous and competitive country. Still, it is time for the Republic of Croatia's Government to listen to experts and entrepreneurs finally.

For these reasons, we are organizing an action to show that citizens are dissatisfied with the poor management of the crisis and to make their voices heard. Entrepreneurs and their employees in times of greatest crisis seek help to survive from a system that they have been financing for decades and in which they are paying billions of kuna. It is time for that same system to start taking care of them in an adequate way.

We see the crisis as an opportunity to reset a system that has not served society for years. It is also time to abolish the hundreds of parafiscal taxes that burden the citizens of this state. Also, we believe that now is the opportunity to abolish the payment of mandatory membership fees in the Croatian Chamber of Commerce and the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts, which are just another in a series of taxes for entrepreneurs," the statement said.

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