Plenkovic made leaking information an act punishable by law last month, and it’s proved wholly unpopular
Index writes that the Promocija plus agency recently conducted some research for RTL regarding the announcement of changes to the Criminal Procedure Act and the Criminal Code. These alterations to the law would make the leaking of information a punishable act, and a survey was conducted from March the 1st to the 3rd on a sample of 1,300 respondents with a standard error of plus or minus 2.7 percent and a confidence level of 95 percent.
Most respondents have indicated that they don’t support criminalising the leaking of information from investigations, which is the government’s plan. The majority, i.e. 51.4 percent of respondents are against this idea, while 34.5 percent support it.
14.1 percent didn’t know or didn’t want to answer. Among those who are in favour of making the leaking of information a punishable act, as expected, are HDZ voters (55.6 percent of them support it), followed by those who vote for HNS (80.6 percent of them support it), those who would vote for the Suverenisti (64.5 percent) and Bandic’s party (59.1 percent).
While the Prime Minister is making little to no effort to hide that he is bothered by the political damage that results from the disclosure of information from investigations, the respondents see this very reason as the main trigger for changing the law. 51.1 percent of respondents think this is the sole reason for the idea. At the same time, 13.1 percent of them think that the reason is the protection of the rights of all persons involved in investigations, and even the protection of the investigative procedure, which is what 10.1 percent of respondents think.
People believe that the biggest victims of such a change would be journalists
Only 4.9 percent of respondents believe that the main reason for changing the law is the independence of the judiciary. According to Prime Minister Plenkovic’s announcement, leaking information from judicial investigations will become a criminal offense, and the goal, as stated, is to prevent information and details from investigations from being released to the media.
The prime minister claims that he isn’t trying to stifle any media freedom, but the main victims of this kind of judicial maneuver are precisely journalists, and this is what almost 37.5 percent of respondents believe. 8.9 percent believe that judges and court officials will suffer, and 8.4 percent of the survey participants believe that the public itself is the main victim.
President Zoran Milanovic says that the Croatian public is ”drowning in corruption” and that the current situation is worse than it was during Ivo Sanader’s reign
Milanovic is no stranger to simply blurting out whatever he thinks, with little to no regard for anyone he might offend, and the arguments between him and PM Plenkovic have become somewhat iconic. He has taken another swipe at Croatian politics as run by Plenkovic and stated that the Croatian public is ”drowning in corruption” and in a ”worse state than when Ivo Sanader was in charge”.
“When someone comes and tells me that they’re ending their cooperation with the president of the republic [in reference to Plenkovic allegedly saying that to him], who was elected democratically, then that’s a clear violation of the Croatian Constitution, I’m surprised that that person is still the prime minister, and that someone in the parliament supports that. Let’s take a good look at ourselves because Plenkovic is now violating the constitution,”
Milanovic then went on to quote a list of names and positions within either the government or within society that he believes Plenkovic arranged for his own benefit, and even dragged members of his family into it all.
”You people are absolutely drowning in corruption, this whole situation is worse than the one Ivo Sanader caused. At least he only stole for himself,” Milanovic stated, before continuing with more quite jarring statements about Plenkovic being arrested in Brussels.
Government session closes with the abolition of health insurance contributions for pensioners and VAT amendments
The amendments to the VAT Act proposed by the government at the most recently held session have resulted in the retention of lowest VAT rate yet on gas and some other energy products, and the amendments to the Contributions Act have abolished additional health insurance contributions payable by pensioners.
Amendments to the Law on VAT
According to Plenkovic, the government is proposing changes to the VAT Act, which will see it retain the VAT rate of five percent on deliveries of natural gas and heating from thermal stations. This includes fees related to these deliveries, as well as for deliveries of firewood, pellets, briquettes and wood chips even after March the 31st of this year.
“We’re continuing with the reduced rate of VAT on gas, pellets, briquettes, wood chips, and we’re going to extend this measure for another year. In this way, we’re successfully enabling everyone to be supplied with these types of energy sources on time and at the lowest possible rate,” Plenkovic said.
“We support pensioners”
When it comes to changes to the Law on [Health Insurance] Contributions, the proposal is to abolish the payment of an additional contribution for health insurance, which includes about one million pensioners, to whom the said contribution will be paid at the expense of the state budget. This will refer to around 32,000 such individuals.
“We support Croatia’s pensioners, and another 32,000 of them will keep what they have been paying so far as part of their regular pension,” Plenkovic said.
Freedom House says corruption continues to represent a very serious problem for Croatia
Political rights and civil liberties are generally respected in Croatia, but corruption and discrimination against certain minorities remains a very serious and real concern, Freedom House stated in its 50th annual report on the level of freedoms across the world.
Compared to last year, Croatia lost a point and now has 84 – 35/40 for political rights and 49/60 for civil liberties. Civil and political rights are generally respected in Croatia, but corruption in the public sector remains a serious problem, according to the Freedom House report.
As key events last year, they cited the arrest of various big names from the world of Croatian politics, the staggering INA affair and the fulfillment of the conditions for Croatia’s entry into the Eurozone and Schengen despite these issues. The American non-governmental organisation warned that Roma, Serbian nationals, ethnic Serbs and members of the LGBTIQ+ community continue to face discrimination. It also noted the presence of far-right groups and people who promote discriminatory values in public spaces as a legitimate concern.
Irena Weber, the Croatian Employers’ Association (HUP) president, talked about price increases and about Croatia’s lack of competitiveness economically
Irena Weber from the Croatian Employers’ Association (HUP) commented on various economic topics for N1 television, from tax policy to government measures to unjustified price increases and the issue of non-working Sundays.
HUP’s salary taxation model
HUP has proposed an increase of salaries through tax relief in such a way that the non-taxable part of an individual’s salary rises from 533 euros to 663 euros and that the tax bracket of 20 percent is reduced to 15, and that 30 percent of the income tax is applied only to salaries greater than 50,000 kuna. The amount that local self-government units would lose would be compensated by the introduction of a 10 percent tax on apartment rent. Commenting on the HUP initiative, Finance Minister Marko Primorac said that it was not particularly well thought out.
“The idea was to draw attention to the fact that the income tax burden in Croatia is very much an issue, while, on the other hand, income from other sources is practically not subject to taxation. The intention was to point out that in this country, in which we continuously swear by education, work and similar, work is heavily taxed while we have a large number of people who don’t participate in payng income tax whatsoever,” said Weber.
“The idea is to start discussing all of that. We’re arranging a meeting with the Minister of Finance and we need to open this topic properly because there is a large amount of unfairness in the distribution of the tax burden from labour in relation to property tax. With this kind of tax burden on labour, low productivity and the like, we’re quite uncompetitive as a country,” she added
She also pointed out that the government has relieved the tax burden on wages in several rounds already, but also that this increase coincided with strong GDP growth. “Croatian GDP grew by over 20 percent, which is an excellent result even in European Union terms, but that also coincides with the increase in income into the budget.”
When asked how much employers raised prices, Weber says: “The domestic labour market continually lacks the staff, employers are fighting to get their hands on every possible worker, there’s a real struggle. The problem of labour shortage is also being solved by importing labour from abroad, which isn’t efficient either. The State Bureau of Statistics (CBS) announced that wage growth stood at 9.3 percent. We have information from our survey that HUP members increased the wages they pay out by over 15 percent, and yesterday morning we had a meeting with the trade unions, the merchants had raised their wages by over 20 percent. We really must keep raising wages.”
“There were no unjustified price increases”
Weber and other HUP members support the continuation of the government’s measures to limit energy prices. However, she believes that the issuing of fines for retail chains and others in the trade sector that didn’t send the government a list of their products and their prices for the so-called ”white lists” will not come to pass: “I think all of that was nothing more than speculation.”
She added that inspections carried out showed that almost no irregularities were found even in several hundred checks. “In addition, the CBS published data on price growth in January and February – 1.3 percent in the beverage, food and tobacco sector, which confirms that there was no unjustified price increase there. Retail chains played perhaps the most significant role in the conversion of the euro as an important channel.”
“It’s not pleasant for me to see any kind of jump in prices either, but we need to look at the bigger picture, inflation is a global problem, we know how the prices of energy, the cost of labour, the price of packaging, and raw materials have risen. With such a price shock, it’s logical that the price of the final product also rises. I think that prices will start to stabilise,” added Weber.
At the end, she commented on the government decision on non-working Sundays: “We cannot support any ban. HUP is against any restriction of the right to work. This is not the time for that.”
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