Should the territory of Croatia be reorganized?
From the very centre of Croatian centralism, near the monument to Josip Jelačić in Zagreb, the MOST association leaders, the Metković Mayor Božo Petrov, his colleague from Omiš Ivan Kovačić, economist Ivan Lovrinović and Miroslav Šimić from Osijek presented their views on the issue of territorial reorganization of Croatia. They believe the current units are too numerous and represent a barrier to economic growth, and propose that the country should have a maximum of nine large territorial units, with a maximum of 400 councillors, reports Slobodna Dalmacija on September 15, 2015.
They did not present any specific proposals since they plan to carry out a thorough, professional and comprehensive one-year public discussion about the issue. “We propose local referenda for population in marginal areas, which would be able to say to which territorial unit they want to belong. SDP and HDZ have never had the will or the courage to carry out the reform of the public administration system, even though it was their pre-election promise many times. Of course, if they were to streamline public administration, there would be a reduction in the number of politicians at all levels of government”, said Božo Petrov.
Economist Ivan Lovrinović warned that more than half of Croatian counties cannot be sustained by their taxpayers, since they have less than 150,000 inhabitants. In addition, twelve counties are below the national average of development and only three exceed this average. “Just three counties can collect 50 percent of their revenues from taxes, while the rest cannot do that”, explained Lovrinović and continued that it is illogical there are some cities, such as Koprivnica, which have larger budgets than many counties. “Koprivnica has a budget of about 160 million kuna, while seven counties have smaller budgets”, said the economist.
The MOST calculated that, under the current territorial model, the 20 counties and the city of Zagreb together have 897 council seats which is six times more than the parliament. In addition to this, there are also numerous city councillors in other large cities, as well as 20 county prefects and 50 deputies and 20 speakers and 40 vice-speakers of various councils and assemblies. There are hundreds of official vehicles, various travel expenses, “hospitality expenses”, as well as financial compensation for those same 897 councillors who are assigned to work in additional three hundred working bodies.
According to the analysis of MOST, seven counties spend on their employees between 10 and 15 million kuna, eight counties spend up to 36 million kuna, the top five counties spend over 50 million kuna, while the top two places belong to the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (76 million kuna) and the Split-Dalmatia County (85 million kuna).