Petrinja Earthquake Slams Brakes on Sisak-Moslavina County Investments

Lauren Simmonds

Updated on:

Copyright Marc Rowlands
Copyright Marc Rowlands

As Vedran Marjanovic/Novac writes, the catastrophic Petrinja earthquake stopped investments in their very tracks in the affected areas of Sisak-Moslavina County. This includes those co-financed from European Union funds carrying a total value, according to local leaders, of close to one billion kuna.

One of the largest ongoing EU projects in the Banovina region is, for example, the improvement of the water and communal infrastructure of the Petrinja agglomeration which is co-financed by the European Union from the Cohesion Fund, worth 431 million kuna, and as the Minister of Economy and Environment Tomislav Coric stated that the Petrinja water supply system was damaged in the earthquake in about a hundred places, the question is whether Petrinja can request additional EU assistance to repair the damage to the agglomeration and complete the project?

Brussels isn’t the right address

”The European Union, ie the European institutions based in Brussels, aren’t a direct address to which the beneficiaries of EU funds in earthquake-affected areas can now turn in an attempt to gain financial assistance for the repairing of damage, nor are they the right doors to knock on to request assistance to complete such projects if they are not completed yet. The Croatian state, ie the bodies in the management and control systems of the European Structural and Investment Funds are the places to go. Such are the corresponding rules and procedures,” said Ariana Vela, the director of the consulting company Avelant and the president of the Board of the EU Projects School. She noted that the rights and obligations of beneficiaries of EU funds in the event of force majeure, such as earthquakes, are regulated by grant agreements, although, in her view, not to a sufficient extent.

”Therefore, it would be best for the competent authorities, in cooperation with the beneficiaries, to first determine the damage caused to EU projects that are in progress and, if they have sufficient funds in their budgets, to finance the repair of the damage and bring those projects to their pre-earthquake condition, and the compensation of these funds in terms of sources of funding can be requested from the EU Solidarity Fund, in compliance with certain rules and meeting certain preconditions,” she pointed out.

In the case of the Petrinja agglomeration, the project holder is the city utility company Privreda d.o.o. which, back in 2016, signed a contract with the Ministry of Agriculture and Croatian Waters, and was provided co-financing from the European Union worth 245 million kuna. The state participates in the project with 100 million kuna, Croatian Waters with 44 million kuna, and the rest is dealt with by the city utility company.

The Petrinja agglomeration project, which was supposed to renovate the water supply network in order to, among other things, reduce water losses in it and build a wastewater collection and treatment system, was set to be completed this year. According to available information, even if the Petrinja earthquake had not occurred, the big question is whether the Petrinja agglomeration project would be completed by the end of next year anyway.

Extra money

In any case, having in mind the propositions that Ariana Vela drew our attention to, the state and Croatian Waters will probably have to engage significant additional money in order to complete the Petrinja agglomeration project.

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