Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Zagreb Months Late in Paying Schools' Bills, Says Daily

ZAGREB, 27 Oct 2021 - Zagreb schools are in serious financial problems because the city has been late for months with the payments it owes them as their founder, Jutarnji List daily said on Wednesday.

Due to the budget deficit encountered upon coming to power, the new city administration is evidently at quite a tight stop, and schools are affected, the paper said.

Headmasters have confirmed that the last payment they received from the city for energy was in August to pay the bills for March, for food in September to pay the bills for April, and only this week to cover the material costs of the last month of the previous school year. 

Due to the months-long lateness in the payments, school headmasters fear shut-offs and enforcement procedures. For now, they are using school funds to pay the bills, they say, adding that payments were late in the past as well, but never this late.

"We don't have money even for emergencies... We understand that the city is in a difficult financial situation, but we have a hard time understanding that there is no information on when we will get the money," Suzana Hitrec, president of the Secondary School Headmasters Association, was quoted as saying.

She said secondary school headmasters had met with city officials but were not informed when the payments would become regular.

If some schools have money in their accounts, those are mainly funds for European projects which cannot be used to pay for toilet or printing paper, Hitrec said.

According to estimates, the city should give schools about HRK 10 million a month to pay utility bills as well as for material costs and food, Jutarnji List said.

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Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Zagreb Holding Group Reduces Losses to HRK 60.8m in H1

ZAGREB, 29 Sept, 2021 - The Zagreb Holding Group had a loss of HRK 60.8 million in the first six months of 2021, which is significantly less in comparison to the H1 2020, when the loss amounted to HRK 139.6 million, the group's financial statement released on the Zagreb Stock Exchange on Wednesday indicate.

The Zagreb Holding Group comprises the Zagreb Holding d.o.o., which is completely owned by the City of Zagreb and its 14 branches and 8 companies and institutions.

The Group's total revenue in the first six months of 2021 amounted to HRK 2.02 billion, which is 7% more year on year, whereas expenditure amounted to HRK 20.8 billion or 3% more.

Revenue from business operations amounted to HRK 1.96 billion, or 7.4% more y-o-y, as a result of economic recovery.

The most significant growth in the Group's revenue was generated in the energy sector and the supply and distribution of gas, primarily through expanding new distribution areas and an increase of 11% in the delivery of gas supplies.

At the same time, material costs and the cost of services increased by HRK 28.2 million or 3%.

The Group's results are still largely impacted by losses in the Čistoća - city waste collection service which registered a loss of HRK 85.7 million in H1.

At the end of June, the Group had 7,765 employees. Personnel costs in H1 amounted to HRK 611 million or HRK 12 million more than last year.

The Group's investments reached HRK 146.5 million, with an additional HRK 26.2 million invested in the construction of public premises.

 There were 7,765 employees on the group+s payroll at the end of June.

(€1 = HRK 7.489688)

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

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

New Members of Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Centre Steering Board Appointed

ZAGREB, 28 Sept, 2021 - Zagreb Deputy Mayor Danijela Dolenec told a news conference on Tuesday that the city had relieved of their duties former members of the Steering Board of the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Centre, and appointed three new members, including new Board chair Gordana Keresteš.

Dolenec said that Keresteš was a full-time professor at the Department for Developmental Psychology of the Zagreb Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and that the other two new members of the Board were Andrea Jambrošić Sakoman, a psychiatrist from the Vrapče Psychiatric Hospital, and Lora Vidović, former Ombudswoman and head of the UNICEF Office Croatia.

"The new Steering Board, which will meet shortly, has the task to formally accept the resignation tendered by Centre head Gordana Buljan Flander, appoint the Centre's acting head and call applications for its new head," Dolenec said.

Asked if he would promptly replace the Centre's Steering Board if the editor in chief of the H-alter web portal, which was banned by a court injunction from reporting about the Centre, were not a member of the We Can! platform, Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević of the We Can! platform said that he would.

"Of course I would, this is about the event itself, the court decision and the very act of seeking a court injunction to ban media from reporting about the Centre's work and its director in the future. It has been condemned by all political actors in this country, from those in power to those in the opposition," Tomašević said.

He added that it was an act of common sense to condemn the court injunction by replacing the Centre's Steering Board, thus sending the message to all city-run institutions and companies and offices that they were liable to public criticism and had to answer to it with arguments.

The former head of the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Centre, Gordana Buljan Flander, resigned last Thursday following negative reactions to her demand for a court injunction to stop the H-alter website writing about her and the Centre.

The injunction by Zagreb Municipal Court judge Andrija Krivak came after the nonprofit website in the past few weeks ran a series of articles by reporter Jelena Jindra problematising the work of the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Centre and its head.

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

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Zagreb City Authorities Cut Planned Vehicle Procurement by Two Thirds

ZAGREB, 21 Sept, 2021 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Tuesday that instead of the planned procurement of 150 cars, the city administration would procure 50 vehicles for city services and half of these will run on hybrid or electric power.

"We cancelled the previous call for the rental of 150 vehicles which was valued at HRK 4.5 million a year and we will now launch the procedure for the procurement of 50 vehicles and the cost for that will be HRK 1.8 million a year," Tomašević told a regular press conference.

The novelty is that half of those vehicles will run on hybrid or electric power. "In that regard, our administration will promote green public procurement. We want to change the city's vehicle pool and there will be some savings in terms of power used by cars," he said.

Deputy Mayor Danijela Dolenec informed that a task force would be established for the city's finances. She will head that advisory task force that would be set up to help improve overall financial sustainability and plan the city's budget and of its companies.

The five-member task force includes two external members: parliamentarians, Damir Bakić of the We Can party and Boris Lalovac of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

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

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Zagreb City Administration Appoints New ZET Supervisory Board

ZAGREB, 14 Sept, 2021 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Tuesday that the city administration had appointed a new supervisory board of the city-owned ZET public transportation company, which will advertise vacancies for the new management in the coming days.

he new members of the ZET Supervisory Board are Marko Slavulj, Marko Borski and Sanja Stojić.

Tomašević said that ZET cost the city HRK 1.1 billion annually and that the city's contribution was HRK 790 million. He added that an additional HRK 80 million should be secured through a budget revision.

The number of passengers in public transport has been falling and the number of vehicles on roads has been growing. That is not a good trend and should be reversed and that is what we expect of the new ZET management, the mayor said.

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

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević: 11 of 27 Department Heads no Longer in Their Positions

ZAGREB, 27 July, 2021 - Eleven of 27 heads of city departments in Zagreb are no longer in their positions and acting heads will be appointed in their stead from among administration staff, Mayor Tomislav Tomašević announced on Tuesday, saying that this transition will last until the reorganisation of the city administration. 

"It was important to us that some of them no longer hold those positions and that they do not have the authority to sign (contracts)," Tomašević told a press conference while speaking about moves by the new city administration in the last two months.

The mayor said that some of the department heads were leaving while the majority had been reassigned to other jobs. Noting that the transition period would be temporary, he said that a call for new department heads would be issued as part of the reorganisation of the city administration, which takes effect on 31 October, and there would be a revision of job classification for each department. 

Speaking of the pace of post-earthquake reconstruction, Tomašević said that no one could be satisfied with it and that no progress would be possible without a systematic solution at state level.

"We can say what we have done each week for the last two months to speed up the reconstruction process. Since the City of Zagreb is not fully responsible for reconstruction, good cooperation (with the central government) is imperative," he stressed, adding that this would most likely require amending the Reconstruction Act.

Tomašević said that calls for one-off grants to non-governmental organisations would be suspended as of 31 July as part of budget cuts.

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

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Zagreb City Administration to Have 16 Instead of 27 Departments

ZAGREB, 6 July, 2021 - Zagreb's new city administration decided on Tuesday to reorganise by reducing the number of city departments from the current 27 to 16 as of 31 October.

Reorganising the city departments was an important part of the new administration's election platform.

Under today's decision, 11 departments will be shut down and their jobs will be done by other city administration bodies, while some administration bodies will be abolished and replaced with a single administrative body.

"The purpose of the new organisation of the City Administration is to make it publicly accountable and efficient," the new administration said, announcing enhanced public procurement, quality city assets management, enhanced hiring and work organisation, stronger social partnership, and digitalisation.

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

Saturday, 3 July 2021

Mayor: Detained Zagreb Administration Employees Temporarily Sacked

ZAGREB, 3 July 2021 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Saturday, after corruption-related arrests earlier this week, that the city administration employees placed in investigative detention would be temporarily terminated.

He told the press that he had warned about the way in which public spaces in Zagreb were leased back when he was a city councillor, announcing that the City Assembly would now change the necessary decisions and rules.

Tomašević said that one of the new city administration's moves had been to appoint an entirely new commission which decided on the lease of public spaces, adding that the old commission "was very problematic."

Asked if he thought there would be more arrests in the city administration, he said, "I think there will be and I think this is just the tip of the iceberg." He added that the trials should be as brief as possible to see if those arrested were guilty or not.

Zagreb is an open city

Tomašević was speaking to the press at the 20th Zagreb Pride Parade.

"We wish to say as the new administration that Zagreb is an open city celebrating all differences, and that no one can be discriminated against on any grounds, including sexual orientation."

He said this was the first time that a Zagreb mayor was attending Pride. "It took 20 years, too long if you ask me."

Tomašević recalled that he marched in the first Pride as a private citizen, later as a city councillor last year as an MP, and now as the mayor.

He labelled as dangerous some politicians' statements about the LGBT community this week, saying that scoring cheap political points on minorities in 21st century Croatia was pathetic.

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

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

USKOK Investigators Conducting Probe in Zagreb City Administration Offices

ZAGREB, 30 June, 2021 - The Office of Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Wednesday that a preliminary investigation by members of the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor and the Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK) started at the city administration offices at 6 am on Wednesday.

Tomašević said in a brief press release that the new city administration fully supported the independence of state institutions and would continue advocating the transparency of work of the city administration, all city departments, companies, institutions and the related businesses.

Media say HRT director arrested

Several people were arrested on Wednesday morning on the suspicion of corruption, including, according to media reports, the director-general of the HRT public broadcaster, Kazimir Bačić.

USKOK and police have not confirmed these reports, but media say that the suspicion of corruption refers mostly to transactions of the previous Zagreb city administration at the end of 2020 and in the first half of 2021.

Bačić was allegedly arrested over a suspicious contract he signed on behalf of HRT with the Tvornica Žarulja light bulb factory.

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

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

GONG: "Tomislav Tomašević Betrayed Pre-Election Promises"

 ZAGREB, 16 June, 2021 - The GONG NGO said on Wednesday that the newly-elected Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević had betrayed his pre-election promises by appointing members of the Management Board of the Zagreb Holding utility conglomerate without competitions for the posts.

Appointments made without a competition are not the path citizens chose in the elections, wanting a change in the way Zagreb is run, although it is indisputable that the City and Zagreb Holding (ZGH) have huge debts and that it is necessary to act as soon as possible, GONG said in a press release.

The NGO thinks that Tomašević should have kept the promises and standards announced in the election programme if he really wants to change the model of governing Zagreb and after 20 years of Milan Bandić's rule stop the practice of non-transparent employment.

The new model of governing Zagreb, announced by the Možemo! platform, explicitly stated that members of the management board of Zagreb Holding (and other city companies) would be selected in a public procedure, with the obligatory publication of their programme. This has not been done so far, and public calls will only serve to select additional members of the ZGH management and supervisory boards, GONG said.

For years, GONG has been advocating obligatory public calls for the selection of management staff in public and city companies, with adherence to the principle of competence.

We think that there is a high risk of corruption in public companies which have large budgets and a large number of employees, GONG said.

Explaining on Tuesday why he resorted to the direct appointment in ZGH although in the run-up to the elections he and his party (We Can!) promised the appointment of executives and management members of the city-owned companies only through public calls, Tomašević said that the situation inherited from the previous local government forced them to react quickly and the direct appointment was the most responsible solution.

Commenting on ZGH's loss of HRK 305 million, Tomašević said that the current city administration had two options: to keep the incumbent management that obviously failed to put the situation under control or to dismiss them and leave ZGH without management several months for the duration of the selection procedure.

The mayor elaborated that the minimum number of members of the management and supervisory boards of ZGH were directly appointed and promised the advertisement of public calls for the remaining three members in the management board and the remaining members of the supervisory board.

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

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