Zagreb – April 9, 2020 – Glas Poduzetnika, the new Croatian association known as The Voice of Entrepreneurs, has announced its next steps.
After a few days from the foundation, the GLAS PODUZETNIKA Association received the decision of registration in the Register of Associations and can start with work. In the first period, the Association will focus on the remaining demands and implementation of existing measures
“The Association is now registered, and applications are being reviewed so we can confirm the membership to all who applied, counting more than 4,000 people in the first five days. Our long-term goal is to participate in the work of the Economic and Social Council and to be the voice of entrepreneurs, especially micro and small businesses, self-employed and employees in the SME segment”, said Hrvoje Bujas, the President of GLAS PODUZETNIKA. “Glas Poduzetnika is a prestigious representative of practically 70% of the private sector, and we believe that we complement with HUP, which gathers mainly large companies. Associations such as Glas Poduzetnika exist in all major economies—National Small Business Association exists in the USA for 80 years now, Germany has Verband der Gründer und Selbstständigen Deutschland (VGSD), and these organizations have tens of thousands of members. In this major crisis, we all had the opportunity to see that an organization like Glas Poduzetnika is necessary for our society.”
The main objectives of the Association, defined in the Statute, are to promote and protect the interests of micro, small and medium-size enterprises in Croatia and their staff; to identify and encourage measures aimed at improving the entrepreneurial climate in Croatia; the creation of a more appropriate and favorable institutional environment for the development of micro, small and medium-size enterprises; the creation and promotion of business climate; the optimization of the efficiency of the state apparatus with the aim of the long-term sustainability of the economy and providing better services to citizens as well as to improve development and quality of society as a whole. No membership fee will be charged for membership in the GLAS PODUZETNIKA Association, and its activities will be funded from donations and commercial activities. Soon, the Association will also make public a detailed document with short, medium, and long term goals.
Meanwhile, after the April package of measures was published, the GLAS PODUZETNIKA Association has focused its current activities in four areas: the demand for banks and leasing houses to freeze loans and interest for 12 months; the demand for local governments to write off rental payments and utility fees; the demand for the country to cancel parafiscal charges, as well as support for members and the Government of Croatia in implementing measures and resolving open issues.
Yesterday, the Association conducted two interesting surveys among its members. The first survey queried members’ expectations from the Croatian National Tourist Board in the crisis and the following recovery period. The second one was about the opinion of entrepreneurs about what the territorial structure of Croatia should look like in the near future.
First, we were interested in the attitude of entrepreneurs to the vast network of more than 300 tourist boards. Given that tourism is a profoundly affected sector which accounts for 20% of Croatia’s GDP, we believe that opinions related to this topic are of strategic importance. When asked what they expect from tourist boards, up to 82% of entrepreneurs do not have any expectations because they believe that tourist boards are entirely useless. Just over 9% have some hopes and believe that targeted marketing actions should be initiated in accordance with the pools of tourists arriving on their transport. Another 5% think that tourist boards should first be radically reorganized, and 3% of participants are interested in fulfilling the board’s promises to reduce membership fees in the short term. Considering these results, it is clear that the Association Glas Poduzetnika will also have an exclusive responsibility to encourage the public, the Government of Croatia and the competent Ministry to think carefully about how to optimize this crucial business sector and make the most of it since this system of tourist boards does not seem to fit the current situation.
The question of the number of local government units is not new. Experts have for years warned of a massive amount of local government units, which is disproportionately large for the population and even for the size of the country only. The Glas Poduzetnika Association believes that this is the perfect moment to bring this topic to life and to finally make some decisions that can increase the chances of Croatia’s long-term prosperity. Interestingly, the most significant number of participants responded to this survey within a few hours—almost two thousand of them. That shows how important this issue is and how many people believe it should be resolved as a matter of urgency. When asked if they thought the number of counties, municipalities, and cities should be reduced, the answers were very clear. A total of 97% of participants believe that the number of local government units should be reduced. 75% of them think that there should be 4-5 counties and 100 to 200 cities, while the remaining 22% believe that all units that cannot be self-funded should be eliminated. Of the remaining 3%, only 1% believe that the number should continue unchanged, and 2% have several different responses, each of which is negligible. Such results confirm past researches, but more extremely, potentiated probably with the impact of the current crisis. “Given the rarely observed unity in responses, we hope that the politics will also see that it is inevitable to initiate the process of territorial restructuring and optimization of local government as soon as possible,” they emphasized from the Glas Poduzetnika Association.
Remember that the GLAS PODUZETNIKA Initiative started as a citizens’ self-organized group, most of which are small entrepreneurs, after the announcement of the first set of Government’s measures, which the organizers deemed insufficient. The Initiative assembled more than 100,000 entrepreneurs, small business owners, self-employed, and the employees in the private sector in less than 15 days, drawing the media spotlight with its uncompromising requests and appearances. Considering this, GLAS PODUZETNIKA positioned itself as a relevant factor in public discussions aimed to determine Croatia’s new economic direction. Its position was also confirmed by the Government of the Republic of Croatia, having included some of the Initiative’s suggestions in the second set of economic measures, thus confirming Initiative’s undeniable influence. At the request of the Initiative’s members, the GLAS PODUZETNIKA Association was created and received more than 4,000 applications for membership within a few days of its founding.