Škoro: Zagreb Has Lost Its Way in Poor Management Over Last 20 Years

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Presenting the main points of his election platform, Škoro said that it is opposed to the management style of the late mayor Milan Bandić and that he is offering change.

He said that before announcing his candidacy, the Homeland Movement had talked with other potential candidates, adding that they might have supported the ruling Croatian Democratic Union’s (HDZ) Damir Vanđelić had he been nominated and allowed to present his program.

“I am offering the citizens of Zagreb my knowledge and experience in public affairs and business. In this campaign, each of us candidates must prove their competencies. My professional career is easily verifiable and includes managerial experience and the creation of added value. I am a trained civil engineer, but I also hold a Ph.D. in economics and management,” Škoro said.

He said that Croatia’s demographic, economic, financial, and educational indicators and the public healthcare system’s state were disastrous. “If the citizens give their confidence to the HDZ or the SDP (Social Democratic Party) and their satellites, they will only help the unstoppable decline to ruin. On the other hand, for change to occur, there are two options: the leftist, activist narrative propagated by people without work experience, and the entrepreneurial narrative of the center-right Homeland Movement, which is based on experience, competence, prudence, respect for the tradition and legacy of our nation.”

“We cannot build our future on activism. Also, none of us is a superman, and that is exactly how the candidate of the We Can! platform is being portrayed. Figuratively speaking, if a tree needs to be cut down, we will cut it down and plant dozens more wherever possible. At the same time, activists will tie themselves to that tree because they don’t see beyond that and cannot offer other solutions. I don’t want to belittle anyone, but there is a huge difference between us in how we see the management model and the city administration’s role. I am confident that the citizens will be able to see this distinction in the election,” he added.

Asked about his election platform, Škoro said that he would present it this week. The program addresses finance, economy, entrepreneurship, utility infrastructure, traffic, education, healthcare, pensioners, young people, demography, waste management, and post-earthquake reconstruction.

“First, we will have to conduct due diligence of the city’s finances. We think that the city’s properties should be used more efficiently, rather than being sold at any cost, and businesses’ incentives should be higher. Also, there is no reason for local tax in Zagreb to be the highest in the country, and it can be reduced over a period of time by several percentage points from the present 18%,” he said.

Speaking of the city’s budget deficit, Škoro said that “a budget surplus of at least HRK 800-900 million” could be achieved over a period of four years. 

“Over a period of four years, the City of Zagreb can close down the Jakuševec landfill. Instead of paying HRK 25 million for plastic waste disposal, it can earn HRK 100 million from managing such waste. Zagreb has a problem with transport infrastructure because a railway line cuts it east-west. The railway should be either elevated or lowered and become the backbone of the city’s transport system. The City of Zagreb has lost its way in poor management over the last 20 years. It must be put back on the right track. We will do that and will rebuild it together,” Škoro said.

Asked why he had pledged kindergartens free of charge given that the average monthly salary in Zagreb is the highest in the country, Škoro said: “Because the city can afford free kindergartens for children and free public transport for pensioners. That is our money. This is not just a promise. I will deliver on it. In the budget for a city the size of Zagreb, several dozen million kunas means nothing. The City of Zagreb must remain socially sensitive. We must raise the level of social sensitivity because this money belongs to the citizens.”

An election victory in Zagreb requires between 150,000 and 170,000 votes. Asked if he counted on the support of the 90,000 voters who had backed him in the presidential election and how he was going to attract the remaining voters, Škoro said: “We are running in this election as a team who will be able to take charge of the complex functioning of a complex city which is neglected and burdened with countless problems. This team comprises professional and competent people who will be a guarantee of that.”

Škoro said that he would use the time leading up to the election, scheduled for 16 May, to visit every neighborhood in the city and present his platform. 

“Indeed, I won over 90,000 votes in Zagreb in the presidential election, and that is my asset which the citizens recognize, despite those who want to label me as an election loser. To start from nowhere, alone against all, and achieve such a result is a major feat. I have already mentioned the 16 seats in the national parliament that we won in the middle of the coronavirus epidemic and lockdown. The Homeland Movement could have participated in government had we agreed to obey unquestioningly and consented to shameless political trade-offs. We want reforms and changes, and that is not possible with the prime minister and his coalition government who put the interests of the Brussels administration before the interests of their own country and people,” Škoro said.

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