ZAGREB, May 25, 2018 – Local government representatives and the Payment Agency in Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development on Thursday signed agreements valued at 470 million kuna for 102 local government projects from Measure 7 – Basic services and village renewal in rural areas – of the EU Rural Development Programme.
The funds will be used to build 57 new kindergartens, 18 community centres, 12 firefighting stations, and two tourist information centres as well as to finance 13 projects for landscaping public spaces in rural areas. The aid being provided accounts for 80% to 100% of total acceptable costs or between 15,000 and 1 million euro.
Agency director Matilda Ćopić recalled that the projects were made available to communities of up to 5,000 residents and were advertised in April-May 2017.
She said that the total value of the projects was 528 million kuna. Ćopić announced that a new call for project applications would be advertised early June providing 500 million kuna in aid – 350 million kuna of which will be earmarked for the construction, reconstruction and equipping kindergartens in rural areas.
According to Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolušić, the new round of projects should result in the construction or reconstruction of 95 to 100 kindergartens.
Prime Minister Andrej Plenković underscored that the signing of the agreements very clearly showed the benefit of Croatia’s membership of the EU. “We are sending a message of balanced regional development in Croatia, particularly of our smaller communities where any investment in the infrastructure, whether it be for kindergartens, firefighting stations or community centres or other infrastructure projects, means job creation… and enables people who have homes and families there to stay there,” Plenković said.
He stressed that the policy of balanced regional development had been part of his government’s activities over the past year and a half. “We are dedicating special attention to Slavonia, but that doesn’t mean that other counties aren’t just as important. We will endeavour to make sure that these measures also help in the demographic revival of the country,” the prime minister said.
Tolušić expects a large number of the projects for which agreements were signed today to be completed by spring next year. He said that he considered the situation in rural areas to be better now than a few years ago.
Tolušić added that in October 2016, rural development projects signed amounted to 328 million kuna whereas today they amount to 5.15 billion kuna.