Croatia preparedly faced the emergence of coronaviruses, all services ready and coordinated

Photo /Vijesti/2020/02 veljača/27 veljače/209sjednicaVRH3.jpg

The government on Thursday approved HRK 2.25 million (€304,000) for the Fran Mihaljevic infectious diseases hospital in Zagreb to purchase nine artificial ventilation apparatuses for the treatment of coronavirus infections.

Currently there are 80,000 confirmed cases in the world with a tendency of spreading further and in Croatia so far three people have been confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 with a tendency for that number to increase.

Considering the gravity of the situation with coronavirus, the hospital will conduct an urgent procurement procedure for artificial ventilators.

Health Minister Vili Beros presented a chronology of the coronavirus outbreak in the world and now in Croatia and recalled all the steps the government and Health Ministry had taken in preparing Croatia for the outbreak of the disease.

Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli said that the tourism sector has not felt the effects of the coronavirus and that a significant drop in tourists has occurred only in eastern markets, namely in China and South Korea.

There are currently 24,500 tourists in Croatia, which is three percent more on the year and there have not been any cancellations yet for the peak season.

Cappelli said that the only effect of COVID-19 so far was on conference tourism and a slight decline in bookings, which could have been expected, said Cappelli.

Speaking to the press ahead of the cabinet meeting, Finance Minister Zdravko Maric said that it was difficult to foresee what effects the coronavirus would have on tourism because it was difficult to estimate the extent and how long the virus would last, adding that he was confident the the tourism sector would be able to handle that.

"We highlight tourism, but that isn't the only economic sector and they are all equally important and relevant with their contributions. Tourism has an added sensitivity to global disruptions, I still think that, if there is no significant escalation of the epidemic, our tourism sector will be sufficiently strong and resilient to manage that," Maric said.

Government adopts decree on direct payments scheme for 2019

The Croatian government on Thursday adopted a decree on the financial structure of the direct payments scheme for 2019, for which HRK 2.87 billion was secured.

"That is 6% more funding than for 2018 when this envelope was HRK 2.71 billion," Zdravko Tusek, state secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, said at a cabinet meeting.

He said that such decrees had been adopted since 2013, noting that the government's contribution was decreasing by the year, while at the same time the share from the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) was increasing. As of 2022, the scheme will be fully funded from the EAGF, he added.

Of the total amount of HRK 2.87 billion, HRK 2.35 billion is available from the EAGF and HRK 519.7 million from the state budget.

"A portion of the funding was already disbursed at the end of last year, while the remainder will be paid out in two installments, in February and March and in May this year," Tusek said.

HRK 1.3 billion was disbursed in late 2019 and the next installments will be paid out to farmers for the preparation of spring sowing.

The government also decided to allocate HRK 121 million this year in aid to highly sensitive agricultural sectors, including the raising of dairy cows and breeding sows, the production of tobacco and olive oil, and the preservation of original and protected crop species and cultivars.

Government gives go-ahead for purchase of 11 electric trains

The government on Thursday gave the go-ahead for the signing of a prefinancing and lease agreement between the HZ Putnicki Prijevoz rail company and EUROFIMA for the purchase of 11 electric trains - five for commuter transport and six for regional transport, worth a total of €57.2 million.

HZ Putnicki Prijevoz received offers from commercial banks and EUROFIMA, the European company for the financing of railroad rolling stock. EUROFIMA's offer has been chosen as the most favourable.

EUROFIMA offered a €57.2 million loan at a fixed interest rate of 0.60%, a commission of 0.05% and a cost of 0.59% annually, payable as a single sum after 15 years.

EUROFIMA will finance the purchase of the trains, and HZ will transfer the ownership right to it pending the fulfilment of all commitments by HZ. 

The procurement of new 11 electric trains for the national rail operator will improve public transport services, Transport Minister Oleg Butkovic said.

Croatia expects a positive response from the European Commission for the purchase of 21 new trains, worth HRK 1.2 billion, under the Competitiveness and Cohesion programme.

"With these two procedures we will get a total of 32 new trains for HZ Putnicki Prijevoz, which will modernise and upgrade its rolling stock," Butkovic said.

Text: Hina