Parl. majority: Amended law to make reconstruction fast, transparent, effective

Zagreb - The parliamentary majority on Wednesday welcomed amendments to the Reconstruction Act as an improvement that would step up post-earthquake reconstruction while the Opposition insisted that they would not expedite the process.

I believe that anyone interested in reconstruction will not have anything against the amendments because they will contribute to a fast, transparent and effective reconstruction process, Nikola Mažar of the ruling HDZ party said during a debate on the bill.


Worthless properties will become valuable

Serb minority MP Milorad Pupovac, too, welcomed the changes. "They are a significant improvement. Not only should reconstruction not last 20 years, it should not last more than three budget years because otherwise, we will fail the test," he said, calling for faster spending of funds made available from the EU Solidarity Fund as budget funds are far from being sufficient and speed is of great importance for the reconstruction process.

Natalija Martinčević of the HSLS/Reformists Group, too, welcomed the simplified administrative procedures related to reconstruction but warned that legalising renovated properties by default could open the door to corruption.

"Illegal properties that are now worthless will become valuable properties," she said, proposing that property owners pay for legalisation themselves.

MP Marija Selak Raspudić of the Bridge group said the bill was a major scam, that the minister himself had admitted that it did not deal with but bypassed problems in the reconstruction process and that it should therefore be rejected.

Of 13,703 requests for renovation, only 511 have been processed, she said, adding that this should result in the dismissal of any minister and noting that Construction Minister Darko Horvat would eventually be sacrificed by the HDZ as the only one responsible for the slow reconstruction process.

"How much will this cost Croatian taxpayers? Is the purpose of the law to remove all legal barriers for the sake of some contractors' private interests? Is the government trying to shift responsibility onto the Reconstruction Fund?" Selak Raspudić wondered.

MP Peđa Grbin of the Social Democratic Party said that he would request an analysis of the effects of the amended law in a year's time.

He noted that some proposals in the amended law were good but that the problem of three different institutions making decisions on the reconstruction process remained the same.

"Minister Horvat and (Reconstruction Fund director Damir) Vanđelić continue to trade accusations on a daily basis instead of working on what should be a generational project," he said.


Law will remain dead letter

MP Anka Mrak Taritaš said that there would be no reconstruction because the proposed laws could not be implemented while Davor Dretar of the Homeland Movement said he feared the law would remain a dead letter.

Miroslav Škoro of the Croatian Sovereignists said he had the impression that the people in charge did not care about legislation regulating reconstruction.

He said that raising the estimated value of goods, services and works requiring the application of rules on public procurement would encourage corruption as would the renovation of properties that had not been legalised, adding that the law would have to be amended again.

Author: Hina