What Changes has Coronavirus Forced in Croatia? From Schooling to Taxes…

Lauren Simmonds

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 30th of April, 2020, perhaps the Croatian healthcare system and the long waiting lists will be helped in some way by the coronavirus pandemic, because it seems that this virus has forced reforms we have been waiting for for a very long time. For years, changes have been promised by politicians from across the spectrum, but they were actually brought in by something invisible.

Suddenly, one can work from home, all of a sudden, everyone thinks we have too many counties and that this is pointless, suddenly the self-sufficiency of agriculture is a daily issue for everyone. Suddenly, everything can be done online in Croatia, RTL writes.

The state has been promising reforms for a very long time, and there has always been a lack of a piece of paper here and there, as well as a few stamps, which are longstanding symbols of Croatian bureaucracy. And then came the coronavirus pandemic, infecting the old and the young, and bringing about the reforms we dreamed of with it.

“We have five money-related foreclosure services where a user can open a secured account, submit a payment request, or cancel a payment request. They can submit a query or a complaint, anything for which they’d usually come to the counter,” said Andrea Kajtaz, of commercial digital solutions at FINA.

There is almost no need for us to hold a ballpoint pen (which is probably also rapidly running out of ink and no longer has a lid) in our hands anymore either, as coronavirus has made digital signatures a reality. Has the pandemic really, finally given us a digital Croatia?

As of 2017, the Ministry of Health has has a system in place that few have actually used, it was so important to former Health Minister Milan Kujunzdic that, well… it is only just being presented this week. As has unofficially been found out, through that system, a patient will receive a username from a doctor and on the zdravlje.net (health.net) site through which they will be able to renew prescriptions for approved medicines themselves! And that’s not all, according to the findings, patients will not be required to go to the hospital or to a doctor for a discharge letter, but instead they will be available online. This revolutionary for Croatia in 2020.

Admit it, you’re missing those delightful trips to the tax office with your hands full of meaningless papers! Although they have been digitised through the ePorezna system for some time, for many things you have still needed to physically go to the tax office to explain your problem to a completely disinterested employee who is irritated at you for interrupting her Solitaire playing session. That used to be the Croatian reality, at least until the coronavirus epidemic broke out. As many as 20,000 new users have signed up for ePorezna during the quarantine period. Tax deferral requests can also now be submitted online.

”Over 100,000 of these requests have been resolved at this moment in time, with 100,000 applications received. Just over 7,000 of them were rejected, unfortunately, there were double submissions amounting to about 12,000. Based on these requests, the payment of the amount of 1.7 billion kuna has already been delayed,” said Tax Administration Director Bozidar Kutlesa.

E-Passes linked health, police and the economy together, but also let the spirit out of the bottle. It’s crystal clear now – we need fewer counties and municipalities. Croatia has 428 of them and much larger and much richer Germany only has 295. Experts suggest five regional units and the total abolition of some municipalities.

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, suddenly we’re all able to work from home. 69 percent of employees are now working from the safety of their homes now. Before coronavirus came knocking at Croatia’s door, those who suggested working from home were called lazy, and today this is more than acceptable to most Croatian bosses. Admittedly, the Croatian Labour Law doesn’t actually yet recognise this, so employers propose that working from home is also properly and officially made legal in the eyes of the law.

With the first wave of layoffs, there were also big queues in front of the Employment Bureau. And since this is a risky epidemiological situation, the Bureau asked all those wishing to register to submit their request by mail.

What we eat matters. The coronavirus pandemic has once again confirmed that we need to be far more self-sufficient than we are. Croatia produces enough cereals, beef, tangerines and other products to meet its own needs. We have the resources, we just need a plan and the political will.

Students will complete their school year at home, at least most of them. Classes are held online or via television. Who would have ever thought something like that would be possible in 21st-century-hating Croatia? With its masochistic adoration of paper, stamps, signatures, photocopies and the need for the presentation of an ID card before you can even get a conversation, coronavirus has shown that when it comes to digitalisation, Croatia is a country that can, and should.

Make sure to follow our coronavirus section for all you need to know about the pandemic in relation to Croatia.


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