”We need to give young people the ability to learn and improve, to be informed about the measures implemented by the EU through EU funds and self-employment,” stated the mayor of Virovitica.
As PD i VL native tim/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 4th of February, 2019, Virovitica is the fourteenth Croatian city in which the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds organised an informative-educational event entitled Regional Days of EU Funds, with the aim of informing the general public about the possibilities of financing from EU funds and strengthening regional development, as well as the possibilities for overall social and economic growth of Croatia which derive from EU fund availability. The event was held at the Virovitica Cultural Centre, which, ironically with the help of the EU funds, is about to be reconstructed soon.
Since Virovitica is mainly made up of agricultural land, its projects are mostly reported by small and medium-sized entrepreneurs and farmers, and according to the latest statistical data, Virovitica-Podravina County is among the best in Slavonia and Baranja in terms of EU cash withdrawal for rural development funds and for micro and small enterprises – up to 3,400 kuna per capita. “EU funds concern everyone, we’re working on public projects in the public sector to set standards, and it’s important to utilise them and improve business,” said Ivica Kirin, Virovitica’s mayor.
National development strategy
Virovitica-Podravina County Prefect Igor Andrović presented some statistical data according to which the VIDRA Development Agency in 2018 carried out 194 projects for small and medium-sized entrepreneurs and farmers, totaling a massive 450 million kuna.
“We’ve started on projects which concern Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem, such as the renovation of the hospital, the construction of a network of entrepreneurial incubators, the construction of a technological innovation centre, the hall for the Viroexpo fair and the energetic renewal of the cultural centre.
This year, we expect the realisation of about 150 projects we submitted last year,” Andrović said, pointing out that with the new division in the four statistical regions, small and medium entrepreneurs in their area as well as in Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac County will receive up to 75 percent of support from the EU funds, as opposed to the previous 45 percent.
State Secretary at the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds, Velimir Žunac, reminded attendees that by the year 2020, the seven-year financial period during which Croatia learned, made mistakes and matured will end, and more opportunities in the next financial period of 2021-2027 will come.
“EU funds are our reality – this county and this city are a good example of how European Union money can be used, as statistics show. In January 2017, Croatia was [withdrawing] under 9 percent of the contracted funds and by the end of last year, that number was more than 62 percent, or 6.6 billion euros of contractuality, we’ve made a significant step forward. In Croatia, 80 percent of public investment comes from the EU and it’s important to maximise its use,” Žunac pointed out.
He announced that the Croatian Government is ready and that the budget is stable for the new cycle and financial period from 2021 to 2027, recalling that the National Development Strategy of the Republic of Croatia is under development up until 2030, with twelve thematic and working groups working intensively.
An interesting panel discussion was then held, entitled “The development of Virovitica through European Union funds”, involving representatives of various institutions as well as local entrepreneurs with experience of using money provided by EU funds. At the very beginning, Mayor Ivica Kirin emphasised that in the near future they want to identify the strategies and priorities that Croatia needs to develop which will create faster and better economic growth.
“We need more staff, especially those who will write projects. At the same time, we must give young people the ability to learn and improve, to be informed of the measures that the state is implementing through EU funds and self-employment,” Kirin said.
The results were presented by Tihana Harmund, Director of the VTA Development Agency, who works for all institutions in Virovitica, companies, institutions, as well as for entrepreneurs and farmers, to whom she offers advice and assistance in writing up and implementing EU projects.
“We have prepared the documentation for all projects, including Pejačević Castle worth 82 million kuna, the improvement of Virovitica’s water and communal infrastructure of 150 million kuna, as well as the renovation of schools, kindergartens and other institutions. For smaller projects, we provided the necessary funds to farmers, entrepreneurs and civil society organisations,” stated Harmund.
Cooperation between the city and the county
”Services and institutions were networked for the preparation of projects, and the cooperation between the City of Virovitica and Virovitica-Podravina County is excellent,” said Neda Martić from the VIDRA Development Agency.
“An entrepreneur can now get a valid building permit in two days, and in addition to being a regional coordinator, our agency is working on strategy and writing up infrastructure projects. We currently have 245 projects related to the economy,” Martić added.
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