A Week in Croatian Politics – Healthcare Woes, Laws and Building Permits

Lauren Simmonds

Updated on:

Photo: Milan Sabic/PIXSELL
Vili Beros
Vili Beros

Lovro Kuscevic’s former adviser is now the head of the Conflict of Interest Commission

Index reports that Aleksandra Jozic Ilekovic has become the new president of the Conflict of Interest Commission, and the previous chief, Natasa Novakovic is leaving that body. The above was decided via a secret vote of the Croatian Parliament.

Jozic Ilekovic received the votes of 78 deputies, her opponent Natasa Novakovic, the former president of the aforementioned commission, received 50 votes, while Nike Nodilo-Lakos and Ines Pavlacic failed to receive a single vote. Novakovic didn’t compete for the position of a member of the Commission, which is why she’s totally leaving that body.

Before joining the Commission, Jozic Ilekovic held a number of different positions, for eight years she was a member of the State Election Commission (SEC), adviser to the Minister of Justice, senior administrative inspector of the Ministry of Justice, and deputy head of the Government Office for Legislation. In addition to all of the above, Jozic Ilekovic spent two years as an adviser to no less than Lovro Kuscevic, Andrej Plenkovic’s former minister and political secretary of HDZ, who is (rather unsurprisingly) a multiple-time USKOK (Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime) suspect.

She allegedly showed leniency in cases involving members of the government

We mustn’t forget that Lovro Kuscevic was indicted at the end of the year before last, having been accused of a series of embezzlements regarding some land on Brac from the time when he was in charge of the Municipality of Nerezisca, and he was also accused of preventing evidence coming to light.

In her four years already spent with the Commission for Conflict of Interest, Jozic Ilekovic showed what has been described as ”exceptional leniency” in cases involving members of the current government.

This third convocation of the Commission will have weaker powers than the previous two, led by Dalija Oreskovic and Natasa Novakovic, and will also have a worse composition. Namely, Jozic Ilekovic is the only member of the current composition who is remaining within the Commission, while all the others have left that body.

Vinkovci’s local administration is trying to avoid saying whether or not it granted Minister Mario Banozic a permit for the construction of a house there

Defence Minister Mario Banozic (HDZ) is currently in the process of building a house in Vinkovci. Index toured the parcel and found in the land registers an allegedly clear statement that there’s no construction permit issued for it.

Andrea Topic reports that in order not to make a mistake and immediately conclude that Banozic is building his house there illegally, Index contacted the City of Vinkovci, more precisely the Administrative Department for Spatial Planning, Construction and Environmental Protection, which is the office that deals with issuing building permits. On Friday morning, Index sent an inquiry asking for information on whether construction is being done illegally on that lot.

But instead of providing a concrete answer like “yes, it’s being built illegally, we didn’t issue permits to the investor”, or writing “no, everything is being done according to the law”, the head of the office, Davor Mecanovic, decided – just five minutes before the end of his during working hours might we add – to copy and paste an excerpt from the Construction Act, send that, and then ignore any calls.

Here is the answer to the very specific question asked of the local authorities:

“Regarding your request about the issuing of a building permit and data on said building permit, we refer you to Articles 115 and 120 of the Construction Act” before going into further details specified by those articles, which I won’t go into now. They’re readily available for those who want to read them, and it seems a strange, around-the-houses (quite literally in this case) response to a very straightforward question.

It should also be added that an inquiry was also sent out to the State Inspectorate. Maybe the City of Vinkovic will reveal the secret of Banozic’s construction permit to them instead.

SDP wants Health Minister Vili Beros to step down from his position following recent scandals

SDP recently cited the tragic case of Lina Budak, a lawyer from Zagreb, who is claiming that she wasn’t told that she had cancer for seven months. They are calling for the dismissal of Minister Vili Beros, who has been silent for two months now about the Budak case.

“We’ve been saying for a long time now that the healthcare system is falling apart, all because of the incompetence of Minister Vili Beros. The latest case in which an unfortunate woman was diagnosed with a malignant disease long after the acceptable time limit in which she should have found out further confirms this.

Ministers of health in HDZ Governments systematically ignore serious problems, they shift responsibility to other bodies and ignore all of the warnings, both from healthcare workers themselves and their patients. How many more situations like that of Mr. Matijanic and Mrs. Budak are needed for Minister Beros to realise that his policy of inaction is irreversibly leading to the collapse the once powerful Croatian healthcare system?” asked SDP.

“Cancer treatment outcomes are catastrophically bad, patients end up entering the system too late…”

“Less than two weeks ago, we warned of all the difficulties related to the treatment of oncological diseases across Croatia: treatment outcomes are catastrophically bad, patients are put into the system too late, making their prognosis even worse, and the treatment is much more expensive.

The Republic of Croatia has all the necessary documents to improve its level of oncology care, but Minister Beros isn’t doing anything to improve it. Indeed, on the occasion of World Cancer Day, he said that he’s painfully aware of the problems being faced within the oncology care system. Unfortunately, being “painfully aware” is insufficient comfort for all cancer patients, as well as for the healthcare workers trying to treat them.

The Croatian healthcare system is financially completely destabilised, and that’s even without mentioning the lack of staff and continuous staff issues within a system in which an HDZ membership card is more important than expertise. Let’s remind you that during the first year of Vili Beros’ administration, public hospitals had a deficit of around 682 million kuna, and the total liabilities at the end of 2021 amounted to around 11.8 billion kuna. The mismanagement of the healthcare sector’s finances just keeps on being repeated every year, and it seems that this is the only concrete health policy they implement,” SDP writes.

“The time has come for Vili Beros to step down”

“The time for Minister Beros to step down came along time ago, and his media appearance recently only proves that he’s completely incompetent for this position. The damage that HDZ has done to the healthcare system is absolutely enormous and will be felt by an increasing number of people every single day.

Healthcare cannot be managed by the enthusiasm and altruism of hard working medical professionals who continually try to replace the organisational mess by running around and putting out fires. It’s perfecrtly clear who is responsible for the mess – Vili Beros and HDZ,” concluded SDP’s Health Council.

Croatian Parliament passes a new Law on Reconstruction, years after the Petrinja earthquake of December 2020

With a majority vote, the Croatian Parliament successfully passed the new Law on Reconstruction, which should simplify and speed up the reconstruction of the areas affected by the earthquakes (yes, those from back in 2020), with objections from part of the opposition to the reconstruction process carried out so far. 99 parliamentarians voted for the new Law, according to which the Reconstruction Fund and the Central State Office are attached to the Ministry of Spatial Planning, Construction and State Property, 15 were against, and 16 abstained from voting entirely.

HDZ’s amendment was accepted, which simplifies the procedure for removing destroyed buildings that have lost their mechanical resistance and stability to such an extent that their restoration is not possible, and reduces the number of participants required during the procedure for removing said destroyed buildings.

Before the vote on the Law on Reconstruction, part of the opposition repeated its objections to the previous renewal and to the Law itself. “Until now, there’s been no political will for the reconstruction to take place, it simply wasn’t Andrej Plenkovic’s political priority,” said Sandra Bencic. She believes that the new Law finally provides a normal framework for the reconstruction to be carried out if there’s political will to do so.

“Now there can be no more excuses, the only thing that can stop the reconstruction is the prime minister himself and you who hold the majority for him. If we see that the reconstruction isn’t going forward, you must all resign,” Bencic told the ruling party. “Four ministers, four laws, and you treat people as if they were mere potatoes,” said Anka Mrak Taritas, who also added that the new Law could be called a law of self-renewal or self-deception, or of mere temporary care.

Predrag Stromar (HNS) said that the Law is extremely necessary and will speed up all processes. “The funds at our disposal of one billion euros need to be spent urgently,” he pointed out.

Marija Selak Raspudic (Most/Bridge) told the authorities to stop renewing the law and actually start restoring people’s homes in the affected areas. Nikola Grmoja called on the opposition not to lend their hands to such a law again. “It’s bad enough that we’re treating the people of Banovina this way, but this government and the majority are simply not able to restore Banovina,” Grmoja said.

A new approach to reconstruction and a simpler procedure

With the new approach to reconstruction, people will be paid the entire amount needed for the renovation or construction of a replacement house before the works on it begin. The creation of an analysis of the current state of the necessary renovation, the obligation to create a removal project for family houses, the technical and financial control of the project, and the need to meet special conservation conditions for structural renovation of buildings within a cultural-historical unit have now all been abolished.

The model of replacement of ownership rights instead of renovation and construction of replacement houses has been introduced, and the circle of persons with the right to renovation has been expanded to include relatives, spouses, common-law partners and life partners. The Agency for Legal Traffic and Real Estate Brokerage has been given the authority to build multi-apartment buildings and acquire real estate for temporary accommodation

Those affected will be given financial assistance for the removal of all destroyed buildings, including auxiliary and commercial ones, as well as assistance for project development costs. A more efficient and appropriate public procurement process is being introduced, and the highest prices for services and works will be determined by bodies that will be decided by the government. The transparency and visibility of the renovation process will be strengthened by creating a complete interactive online GIS application.


For more on Croatian politics, make sure to follow our dedicated section and keep an eye out for our Week in Croatian Politics articles which are published every Friday.


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