Zagreb - The Croatian parliament amended the Reconstruction Act on Friday, paving the way for simplifying and speeding up the post-earthquake reconstruction of Zagreb and surrounding counties and removing the bottlenecks that have emerged in the reconstruction process.
The amendments were passed by 76 votes in favour, 7 against and 35 abstentions.
As a result, citizens will no longer be required to cover 20% of the cost of structural reconstruction. In Zagreb, the government will cover 80% of the cost and the City 20%, while in the Banovina region, the cost will be fully covered by the government.
It will no longer be necessary to establish property rights which have until now hampered the reconstruction process, and the ban on disposal of rebuilt property and the obligation to register a lien on the property were revoked.
Public procurement procedures will be accelerated and rules will be adopted on the procurement of goods, services and works whose estimated value is lower than EU limits.
It will be easier to demolish buildings and build new apartment buildings.
Owners of damaged blocks of flats, commercial buildings and family homes will be allowed to perform structural reconstruction work on their own while adhering to the law regulating physical planning and construction. They will then be compensated for the eligible costs of the reconstruction.
Owners will also be able to conduct retrofitting above the level of technical regulations as well as integral reconstruction and then claim financial compensation for eligible costs.
All land title applications for properties damaged in the earthquakes will be processed on fast track.
Opposition: Some solutions are good, some problems remain
The opposition said that some improvements have been made, that some problems remain.
The dispute between the Construction Ministry and the Reconstruction Fund, namely between Minister Darko Horvat and Damir Vanđelić, is continuing and it is directly delaying reconstruction, said Peđa Grbin (SDP).
The limits for public procurement have been raised while finance for public buildings has been abolished, which is alarming, added Grbin.
MP Sandra Benčić (Green-Left Bloc) admitted that the amendments added some improvements, but questioned the fact that local government was not allowed to finance reconstruction by taking loans and there were no incentives for self-reconstruction. The greatest risk remains in the area of public procurement, she said.
MP Marija Selak Raspudić (Bridge), said that earthquake damage is estimated at HRK 128 billion, yet only three percent of applications have been resolved.
The Sabor did not uphold a conclusion by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) group which would oblige the government to report to the Sabor every six months on the effects of the post-earthquake reconstruction law.