Measures for housing care as a contribution to demographic revitalization of Croatia

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The government on Thursday unanimously adopted a report on an interpellation submitted by 16 Social Democratic Party (SDP) MPs about its performance in the procurement of fighter jets, assessing the claims in the interpellation as unfounded.

"The government conducted this very complex process systematically and responsibly, guided solely by Croatia's national interests, in line with the Defence Act and the Public Procurement Act. The selection of the multipurpose fighter jets was conducted transparently, with clear criteria and equal terms for all interested parties," Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic said presenting the report.

He said no bidding country complained about the procurement procedure. He said the parliamentary defence committee and the Defence Council were included in the process from the start and were informed about the procurement in time and in detail.

Israel's bid cost US$ 475 million. Greece's cost EUR 171 million, although additional costs were not defined, the aircraft were not modernised and total costs could not be estimated. Sweden's bid cost EUR 933 million and total costs were estimated at EUR 1.11 billion. The basic US offer cost $1.553 billion, excluding weaponry and training costs and total costs could not be estimated.

Krsticevic said "it was concluded that Israel's bid would be complete and the most acceptable, including financially." He said Israel provided preliminary approval for the transfer of technical data in the configuration requested so that its bid could be valid.

It was Israel's obligation to obtain the US government's final permission for the delivery of the aircraft in the appropriate configuration and Israel officially notified Croatia that, contrary to the obligation undertaken, it could not obtain permission from the US for the delivery of F-16 Barak aircraft.

Croatia could not influence that and is not responsible, the minister said. "We asked all the necessary questions and received the appropriate guarantees."

He underlined that Croatia had not undertaken any financial obligations and that it suffered no consequences in the procurement procedure. "The government acted with due attention and we didn't ignore the views presented during the procurement procedure," he said, adding that, "with the intention to obtain all the necessary information and examine the procedure and terms of acquiring the transfer, additional consultations were made with the most relevant interlocutors in Israel and the US."

During the whole process, the government showed determination to ensure the best aircraft for the most affordable price.

"Croatia remains a key strategic partner to the US and this won't change. We underline that no action in this process has threatened the long term stability and viability of the Croatian Air Force," said Krsticevic.

The government will continue to seek a solution for maintaining the capability of the fighter jets we developed during the Homeland War, he added.

"It's important that we continue to have good relations with Israel and the US. And when it comes to defence cooperation, we will adopt some decisions at this meeting, which further confirms the continuity and intensity of our cooperation," said Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.

Late last month, the opposition SDP submitted an interpellation to parliament on the government's failure to procure F-16 Baraks from Israel,demanding that the government tell parliament why the procurement had failed.

The SDP wants parliament to establish if Krsticevic and Plenkovic were responsible for the failure and to ensure that future procurement procedures, especially such expensive ones, be carried out transparently and in line with the Defence Act.

The interpellation signatories maintain that the government, notably the Defence Ministry, did not act transparently and with due attention, claiming that they did not take into account Croatia's overall interests and the positions of the US as the third party. Citing Croatia-US correspondence published in the media, they say the US clearly indicated that it was against the procurement as Krsticevic wanted to implement it.

The government decided on Thursday to sell the Czech Villa on the island of Vis to the Philip Vermeulen company, which was the only one to submit a valid and complete bid in the amount of HRK 32.2 million, about 80,000 more than the ask price.

State Assets Minister Goran Maric said at a cabinet meeting that his ministry repeated the tender for the sale of the property last October, asking HRK 32.12 million for it.

He said the buyer committed to build a hotel on the property over 36 months in line with the local zoning plan.

The Czech Villa covers 296 square metres and can be turned into a hotel with 20 beds as part of a property of 3.6 hectares that can be used to build a luxury accommodation facility with a minimum 100 and a maximum 160 beds.

The Philip Vermeulen company was founded in 2004, its stock capital is HRK 20,000 and its business is real estate. Its founder and director is Philippus Vermeulen of South Africa.

Text: Hina