WHAT'S IMPORTANT IN CROATIA? Croatian Prime Minister outsmarted Unions and opposition



Zagreb, 190919.
Banski dvori.
Sjednica Vlade Republike Hrvatske. Na fotografiji: sjednica. Foto: Marko Todorov / CROPIX
Marko Todorov / CROPIX

Prime minister Andrej Plenković at the beginning of the Government session

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There will be no pension reform, but neither the referendum

The Croatian government will lower the country’s retirement age back to 65 from 67 following a protest campaign led by leading trade unions, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday. (more on jutarnji.hr and novac.hr). “By this, we show that we listen to what our citizens tell us. However, some of our citizens want to carry on working beyond the age of 65 and we will make it possible in a revised (pension) law proposal,” Plenković told a cabinet session. It was an absolute shock to all public. Three top trade unions collected a petition of more than 700,000 citizens’ signatures last spring to force a referendum on the government’s decision under the slogan “67 is too much”.

Reactions were quick: Unions expects a referendum to be held on changes to pension eligibility criteria. Employers said that the benefit of conceding to Unions is questionable. Opposition emphasized that government capitulated before the Unions. More on jutarnji.hr.

It is worth noting that the EC was praising that pension reform. Croatian public pension scheme costs almost 40 billion kunas (€5 billion) a year, but that cannot be covered by workers’ contributions and the budget has to finance about 17 billion kunas from taxes annually to cover the shortfall.

It is a very interesting political move. Plenković will escape referendum in the election year, referendum that will realise in his defeat that would enhance opposition in the campaign and give an impetus to his competitors in the party (HDZ). Unexpected move that was a huge surprise for Unions that left speechless and actionless. The opposition was loud, but not articulated. And, what is an excellent idea, a new law will leave opportunity for people who want to work after 65 years. Very good.

A new step to save 3. May shipyard

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković visited the 3. Maj shipyard in the northern Adriatic city of Rijeka on Thursday, noting that by deciding to issue guarantees for the completion of a bulk cargo vessel by that shipyard earlier in the day the government had continued to make decisions important for the stabilisation of the dock and its long-term sustainability (more on jutarnji.hr). He added that efforts would be made "to apply the same logic to Pula and the (ailing) Uljanik shipyard in the coming months." Workers of shipyard applauded when Plenković came to shipyard.

And the government authorised the Finance Ministry to issue a government guarantee to the 3. Maj shipyard in Rijeka for a loan to be taken from the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR) and/or other commercial banks of €26 million to complete the construction of a ship at the dock.

The government was passive during the Uljanik crisis, and then it, again surprisingly, decided to save 3. May. And now is opening the possibility of implementing the same strategy to Uljanik. If this plan succeeds, it can be on one side hard punch to the opposition - SDP is very strong in Rijeka and IDS in Pula - and on the other, another proof that this government is taking care about shipbuilding industry. Again, one year before the elections. And the process of saving will go on for quite a period.

Russians are the majority in the executive board of Fortenova Group

"As former non-executive members of the Board of Directors Kelly Griffith and Daniel Michael Böhi have resigned, the next assembly will decide on the proposal to appoint Paul Bastone and Alexander Torbakhov to the Board of Directors of Fortenova Group (former Agrokor, biggest food-producing and processing company in Croatia) for a term of three years”, goes the press release. According to novac.hr, after these nominations will be approved, Russian Sberbank will have four members in the executive board and another Russian bank - VTB - one. The executive board has ten members.

It is almost curiosity that Ivica Mudrinić is named as representative of workers on board. He is a former minister in Croatian government, former CEO of Croatian Telecom (he was leading process of privatization and entering of Deutsche Telekom - DT - as biggest owner), later was posted in Bonn to work in DT. He is not employed in Fortnenova Group. More on novac.hr.