Sunday, 19 September 2021

Parliament Building to Undergo Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 19 Sept, 2021 - The Croatian parliament's building, a heritage building in St. Mark's Square in downtown Zagreb, will undergo reconstruction due to the significant damage sustained in the March 2020 earthquake, a parliament source has told Hina.

Due to the procedures that need to be undertaken before the reconstruction, they could not specify how long reconstruction will last.

The source said that after the Zagreb earthquake, parliament applied for EU Solidarity Fund money intended for the reconstruction of the cultural heritage and was approved a HRK 87.6 million grant.

The National Recovery and Resilience Plan envisages financing the whole reconstruction, including making the building more energy-efficient, from the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility.

After the project documentation is prepared, there will be a public consultation, followed by public procurement.

Last December's Petrinja earthquake, which was strongly felt in Zagreb, only confirmed that the parliament building, which has not undergone major renovations in years, needs to be reconstructed.

The early 18th century two-storey building spreads over 1,900 square metres and has 41 rooms.

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Thursday, 9 September 2021

New Post-Earthquake Reconstruction Program Adopted

ZAGREB, 9 Sept 2021 - The Croatian government on Thursday adopted a new program for the reconstruction of earthquake-damaged buildings in five counties to correct prices of reconstruction work due to a rise in market prices and extend deadlines for the submission of requests for reconstruction.

Also, the status of a legalized property is no longer required for owners to seek grants for temporary assistance and emergency interventions, Construction Minister Darko Horvat said, noting that the changes would help step up the reconstruction process.

The program includes results of a study the purpose of which was preliminary identification of risky geological process, soil liquefaction, and landslides and which was conducted in cooperation with the Zagreb Faculty of Mining Geology and Petroleum Engineering, Horvat said.

Under the new program, owners willing to reconstruct their houses on their own in disaster areas will be able to arrange the making of the design study and project documentation as well as reconstruction work on their own while supervision over finished reconstruction work and payment will be done by the Central State Office for Housing.

The program defines more clearly than before the content of important technical documentation related to reconstruction, the final report by the supervisor engineer, and the written statement by the contractor, and it additionally regulates the necessary elements for all key stakeholders in the reconstruction process and extends deadlines for the submission of applications.

As of now, citizens will be able to seek grants not only for the general design for reconstruction work but also for designs for structural reconstruction and total reconstruction, with the deadline for such applications being extended until 31 December 2030.

The deadline for the submission of applications for grants for the temporary protection of damaged properties has been extended until 31 December 2022 while applications for the removal of destroyed residential buildings, combined residential and office buildings, and office buildings may be submitted until 31 December 2025.

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

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Zagreb Mayor Says Legislative Framework for Reconstruction Inadequate

ZAGREB, 31 Aug, 2021 - Commenting on the situation with post-earthquake reconstruction, Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević repeated on Tuesday that the current law on post-earthquake reconstruction was inadequate and he welcomed plans to amend it.

Tomašević said that it was up to the government to submit a new bill to the parliament and that his We Can! party would try to help shape it through its deputies in the national parliament.

The mayor warned that property-rights relations, properties that had not been legalised and discrepancies between data in land books and those in cadastral maps constituted a major problem.

He said that he would support proposals that the state fully finance the reconstruction process in order to help expedite procedures related to property-rights relations, noting that those relations would not be as important without the co-financing model, and one could embark on "block by block" reconstruction.

Tomašević said that a call for applications for the lease of city-owned flats to citizens whose properties were damaged in the March 2020 earthquake and who were accommodated in a hostel and in housing containers would be published very soon.

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Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Croatian PM Andrej Plenković Satisfied With World Bank Support in Post-Quake Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 15 June, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Tuesday expressed satisfaction with the World Bank's support to Croatia's efforts to reconstruct the areas hit by the 2020 quakes, and with cooperation in projects aimed at facilitating the recovery of the private sector's exporters affected by the corona crisis. 

A press release issued by the government notes that the premier held a meeting with World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia, Anna Bjerde, and a few other WB officials in Government House.

On that occasion, Plenković expressed satisfaction with the cooperation with the World Bank and the support that institution had provided to Croatia in the reconstruction since the earthquakes had struck Zagreb and Sisak-Moslavina County in March and December 2020.

He was quoted as saying that he was satisfied with the permanent cooperation in projects aimed at helping exporters in the private sector to recover from the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

The prime minister in particular thanked the World Bank for its support until now in preparing Croatia's 2021-2026 National Recovery and Resilience Plan. He underscored the importance of fostering further cooperation and the implementation of projects for Zagreb's reconstruction and revitalisation of the Banovina area in Sisak County, the press release said.

In June last year the World Bank approved two $500 million projects to provide urgent support to the government in an attempt to relieve the impact of the tremors that hit Croatia and of the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Bank also provided technical support in preparing a Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment (RDNA 2020), which was an important document to mobilise €683.7 million from the EU Solidarity Fund. The World Bank also provided technical assistance in the RDNA for the earthquake-struck areas in Sisak-Moslavina County.

Bjerde was accompanied at the meeting by World Bank's Country Director for the European Union Gallina Andronova Vincelette, the World Bank's new country manager in Croatia Jehan Arulpragasam, and Special Assistant at World Bank Group Fanny Weiner.

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

 

Thursday, 10 June 2021

Tomašević: Nobody Can Be Satisfied With Rate of Reconstruction in Zagreb

ZAGREB, 10 June 2021 - After his first meeting with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and his ministers, Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said that nobody can be satisfied with the rate of reconstruction in Zagreb and that he expects a new era of cooperation between the city and the state.

Tomašević and Plenković met in Government House and discussed cooperation between the government and the City of Zagreb after the 22 March 2020 earthquake and the situation regarding the city's finances. Finance Minister Zdravko Marić, Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets Minister Darko Horvat and Deputy Zagreb Mayors Danijela Dolenec and Luka Korlaet also participated in the hour-long meeting.

The main topic of the talks, held on the day that the first house with a red label in Zagreb was demolished, was post-earthquake reconstruction.

"We are glad that the demolition of damaged buildings is finally starting. Today three are being demolished, and more will follow in the days to come," said Tomašević.

Admitting that nobody can be satisfied with the rate of reconstruction, he said that the City of Zagreb would from now on be a proper partner so that the process is accelerated, particularly with regard to filling out application forms for apartment buildings.

Horvat and Tomašević announced that they would conduct a working meeting on Tuesday to discuss handling construction waste material as temporary landfills are full, as well as ways to accelerate reconstruction.

Not one decision on reconstruction will be political but based on expertise

"Bulldozers are positioned at three locations in Zagreb and buildings are being demolished," Minister Horvat said and added that the ministry had so far sent 36 decisions for demolition to the Reconstruction Fund and that another 18 decisions would be forwarded this week.

Responding to accusations by the fund's director, Damir Vanđelić, that the ministry was a bottleneck in making decisions related to reconstruction, Horvat said that the problem was no longer the ministry but the Fund itself.

"(Vanđelić) received the first decision for demolition on 20 April and he managed to arrange the first works on 10 June. We are no longer talking about expediting the adoption of decisions but about the implementation of public procurement for bulldozers to appear in the field. That isn't a job for the ministry but for the fund's director," said Horvat.

He added that he would insist on the current reconstruction model and on decisions that were not political but based on expertise.

By the end of the month, the fund will have on the desk some 60 decisions for demolition of the 169 that were received by the ministry. As for the remaining applications, the relevant documentation is being collected and property-rights relations are being dealt with, he added.

He stressed that 3,800 applications for reconstruction that had been submitted in Zagreb had still not been resolved because they involved buildings that did not have legal building permits.

Tomašević stressed that city authorities would contribute to expediting the process of reconstruction by helping citizens complete application forms and conducting quick inspections for damage carried out on the remaining buildings that had not undergone such inspections.

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Thursday, 10 June 2021

Demolition of Private Houses Damaged by Zagreb Earthquake Starts

ZAGREB, 10 June 2021 - The authorities in Zagreb on Thursday started demolishing the first houses, which were given red warning notices due to the extent of the damage they suffered as a result of the 22 March 2020 earthquake.

The demolition started with the removal of a property, owned by the Sunek family, in the northern suburb of Granešinski Novaki.

The head of the post-quake reconstruction fund, Damir Vanđelić, said that the decisions on the demolition of the damaged property and on the reconstruction were within the remit of the Construction Ministry.

He called for the acceleration of the whole process of decision-making and for making joint efforts to step up the reconstruction 446 days after the 5.5 earthquake hit the capital city, killing a girl and causing extensive damage.

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Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Damir Vandjelic: Post-Earthquake Reconstruction Going Too Slowly

June the 8th, 2021 - Damir Vandjelic, the director of the Reconstruction Fund, has spoken out about the length of time the reconstruction process following the earthquakes of 2020 is taking, adding that things need to be streamlined and sped up significantly.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Lepan Stefancic/VL writes, Damir Vandjelic openly stated recently that the reconstruction process after the 2020 earthquakes was proceeding much too slowly and that, when looking at how it began and the speed of those beginnings, he is struggling to believe that it will accelerate. Speaking on the matter for N1, he said that the demolition of three houses according to the requests for post-earthquake reconstruction is starting only this week.

"In order for excavators to come out to the streets, according to the Law on Reconstruction, people need to submit their respective requests to the ministry. The Ministry has 11,100 requests, of which 18 decisions came to the Fund, and a total of 155 acts came from the Ministry.

The difference between 155 and 18 is actually the documentation that we obtain in the administrative procedure for the ministry, meaning the gross area of ​​the buildings, the assessment of the construction and the like,'' he explained.

"On Friday, we signed three decisions on the selection of contractors, and next week the removal of three family houses in the epicentre of the March 2020 Zagreb earthquake, in the Markusevac area, should finally begin. Now there are only three, but 20 are reportedly in preparation,'' he added.

Damir Vandjelic made no bones about his feelings on things going at Croatia's infuriatingly typical snail's pace, and reiterated his position that the reconstruction is proceeding too slowly for Vecernji list.

"Yes, exactly. Over last three weeks we've been getting just two decisions a week. On 19,000 buildings, just two decisions, that just isn't very fast. The processing of peoples' requests needs to be sped up, and I'd even dare to suggest that the Law on Reconstruction should be improved in some segments.

Therefore, the processing of these requests must be done much more quickly, not just two decisions per week. It can be accelerated, here in the Fund we've shown that we can do about twenty procurements a day, so I think it would be alright for them to throw out about 50 decisions a week,'' Damir Vandjelic explained.

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Monday, 19 April 2021

Different Zagreb Earthquake Reconstruction Rules for New Property Owners

April the 19th, 2021 - There are different rules for those who are classed as new owners of property in the capital when it comes to Zagreb earthquake reconstruction, and if you fall into that category and decide to sell your apartment, you could be hit with quite significant costs.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, there are three conditions for co-financing post-earthquake reconstruction in Zagreb - ownership, residence and whether or not the property is the place you actually live in, which will be proven through neighbours and who bills are addressed to if necessary. According to the State Secretary at the Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State, Zeljko Uhlir, those who meet those conditions are to participate in the Zagreb earthquake reconstruction costs of their own properties in the amount of 20 percent. For others, the amount is a significantly higher 50 percent.

The same goes for owners of different types of property: for the first ''section'' which has been mentioned above, they participate with 20 percent, for the others the participation amount stands at 50 percent, but if someone sold their apartment, then the new owner must participate with 50 percent of the renovation costs, and in the case that someone sells their renovated apartment, they will need to return the invested funds or the costs and those associated with it will be passed on to the new owner.

What, in turn, is the difference between Zagreb earthquake reconstruction done yourself and renovation done through the appropriate fund? Can co-owners who don't want that sort of reconstruction be forced to accept it, and how will all of this be affected by the lack of workers, engineers and the rise in price of construction materials? These are all very pressing questions which obviously demand clear answers.

Then there is the question of how non-detached buildings will be dealt with? There are also questions surrounding older owners who aren't accustomed to using the internet and the whole procedure might become too complicated for them to understand. In the framework of the dialogue that has been going on for a long time now, among experts on the topic of reconstruction of buildings after the earthquake, in addition to the above questions, there are a number of those to which representatives of the profession are still looking for answers.

However, as confirmed by a recently held presentation on the basics of Zagreb earthquake reconstruction for members of the Chamber Association of Property, what there is no doubt about is that the renovation process will affect the capital's real estate market in the long run.

It will significantly affect the markets, but mostly people's lives, and therefore it should be approached in an organised manner at all levels. That was the central message of Dubravko Ranilovic.

According to Uhlir, only in the Zagreb area will the rehabilitation of buildings cost as much as the construction of motorways. The primary goal, he claims, is to ensure mechanical resistance and stability with the aim of protecting human health and life, while the secondary point is the urban renewal of the City of Zagreb and its surroundings, and the regeneration of the overall area. Recalling the rule that the EU doesn't provide funds for private property - the owners, in fact, must take care of it themselves, according to him it is malicious to make accusations and lie blame with the owners of old buildings when it comes to maintenance as most were not designed or built to withstand seismic loads, and therefore their restoration is extremely a complex job in which the profession must play a major role.

On the other hand, co-owners can organise and finance the Zagreb earthquake renovation process which refer to their properties themselves, and then demand a refund of the justifiably spent funds, which means that in this case the process may go much more quickly and smoothly, but Uhlir warned that they must pay attention to all of the documentation and that everything goes according to the rules and can be looked back at.

"Of course, the problem lies with the harmonisation of the the position of the co-owners, but it's possible to act legally if there's indeed a threat to life at play. A completely new law in building management is coming soon,'' said Uhlir, adding that the law was made according to the best experiences to date, but unfortunately we still don't have a single contract with a designer, let alone a contractor, ie there are a very limited number of people who understand this sort of construction and who have real life experience in it,'' he added.

The good news that the Secretary of State also put forward is that the deadlines for submitting applications have been moved to the period from 2021 to 2025 so that everyone will be able to submit them, but in conclusion it is worth emphasising his appeal to all not to attempt to fix any earthquake damage yourself, but be sure to contact authorised professionals for your own safety and for that of the buildings.

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Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Croatian Reconstruction Fund Receives Renovation Decisions, Mostly for Zagreb

April the 13th, 2021 - The Croatian Reconstruction Fund has begun work, and the vast majority of decisions on renovations following the earthquakes which rocked the country in 2020 relate to the City of Zagreb.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, the plan for the implementation of the organised reconstruction following the earthquakes, including contracting designers, the preparation of documentation and reconstruction works has all been made available from this week. Given the amount of damage from the earthquakes which struck back in March and December 2020 totalling 127.6 billion kuna and the number of requests that are now open, things will take a very long time to complete.

The total costs of the Croatian Reconstruction Fund in the first three months of 2021 amounted to a staggering 182 million kuna, of which 95 percent was paid out in the form of compensation for damages caused by the devastating 2020 earthquakes. On the other hand, 6433 requests came from the most recently hit Sisak-Moslavina County, 1054 from Zagreb, 351 from Zagreb County, 74 from Krapina-Zagorje County and 5 from Karlovac County.

In the first quarter, the Croatian Reconstruction Fund received temporary solutions for three Zagreb buildings (six more have since been received over recent days), but they require technical and financial control.

It will be implemented by the Croatian Reconstruction Fund and the cases will be returned to the competent Ministry in order to reach their final solutions, but in order to finally act on them, the Croatian Government must adopt another programme of measures that will work to clearly define all of the procedures from building demolition to reconstruction.

What seems to be going quite quickly, according to the director of the Fund Damir Vandjelic, are the payments for emergency interventions, with the staffing of Vandjelic's closest team of associates and the organisation of key services.

The director of the Public Procurement Documentation Service is Sasa Miroslavic, who was the head of the public procurement sector at the Ministry of Health, while the director of the Independent Fraud Prevention Service, Davor Iljkcć, was in the Ministry of the Interior for sixteen years, also as a group leader in the Economic Crime Service.

Miroslavic is in charge of a transparent way of procurement management within the Croatian Reconstruction Fund. The first criminal report on the suspicion of a possible criminal offense of abuse during the emergency intervention, in the amount (unofficially) of 1.5 million kuna, however, has already been forwarded to the State Attorney's Office and will be looked into.

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Saturday, 3 April 2021

Government Increases Financial Aid for Croatian Earthquake Reconstruction

April the 3rd, 2021 - The government has increased the sum of financial aid intended for the Croatian earthquake reconstruction process. Here are the new amounts and procedure details.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the financial aid for the reconstruction/rehabilitation of non-structural elements on property damaged in the earthquake is now being increased from the previous 12,000 kuna to 16,000 kuna. This will regard family homes, residential and commercial buildings, apartment buildings and office buildings.

If such an application for these funds regards a family house without special parts needing other forms of more specialist attention, the increase is 25,000 kuna. In addition to chimneys, the term ''non-structural'' refers to elements of the property and the roof, gable walls, staircases and lifts.

The aforementioned Decision on providing financial assistance for Croatian earthquake reconstruction refers to the repair of property damaged by the earthquakes of 2020 in the areas of ​​the City of Zagreb, Krapina-Zagorje County, Zagreb County, Karlovac County and Sisak-Moslavina County.

All of the funds related to the implementation of this Decision on the Croatian earthquake reconstruction process are provided by the Reconstruction Fund, and are to be paid out based on the decision of the Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property.

The right to a refund

People who have already started to repair the damage to their properties caused by the earthquakes of 2020 on their own have the right to a refund in certain cases. In order to exercise the right to a refund, you must:

Hire a certified engineer to do the repair study
Hire a contractor
Hire a certified civil engineer, or a certified mechanical engineer (for boilers and gas installations)
Keep all of the original invoices
Include a complete application. This relates to Form/Obrazac 5 from the Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property.

This must be submitted by the owner, co-owner, representative of the co-owner, or the manager of an apartment or business building.

The completed request must then submitted to the Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property in Zagreb (Ulica Republike Austrije 20).

The delivery of the completed application can be done in different ways:

In person at the office
By mail
In the relocated offices of the competent Ministry:
Sisak: Ulica Ivana Kukuljevica Sakcinskog 1;
Petrinja: Trg Matice hrvatske 18;
Glina: Trg bana Josipa Jelacica 2;
Hrvatska Kostajnica: Ulica Vladimira Nazora 17;
Lekenik: Zagrebacka ulica 77A

By using the e-Renewal application in the e-Citizens (e-Gradjani) system.

The application deadline is December the 31st, 2021.

Applications for financing the lease of a replacement apartment are also being received.

On March the 12th, 2021, the Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property published a Public Invitation for financing the rent/leasing costs for housing for persons whose property was damaged during the earthquake in the City of Zagreb, Krapina-Zagorje, Zagreb, Karlovac and Sisak-Moslavina counties.

The public call/invitation and application forms for such requests are now available on the website of the Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property.

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