ZAGREB, Dec 16 (Hina) – Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Wednesday said that Croatia was now facing a challenging period in the coronavirus epidemic which has cost Croatia HRK 30 billion so far and that the human casualties and the high number of people infected call for new measures.
“At the moment we are hammering out several proposals for new measures. They will probably be ready on Friday when we plan to present them,” Plenkovic told a press conference after coming out of self-isolation since his recovery from COVID-19.
The Croatian PM said that it was not time to ease the measures and that measures that are to be extended will be presented on Friday and what else can be done to reduce contact and movement of the population and in that way prevent the epidemic from spreading.
He confirmed that the number of deaths and new cases was still high and that at the moment Croatia is experiencing high COVID casualties.
“That means that we need to continue taking measures, to be responsible and to continue tightening targeted measures and to do everything to help the overburdened health system,” said Plenkovic expressing his condolences to all those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19.
€4 bn to maintain normal life and enable the health system to function
The Prime Minister underscored that since the outbreak of the epidemic the government has spent HRK 30 billion through various activities to maintain a normal life and to enable the health system to continue functioning.
He said that progress in registering and approving COVID vaccines was encouraging.
“The European Medicines Agency has moved its deadline of 29 December to a few days earlier which means that, provided that Pfizer’s vaccine is approved, after that member states, including Croatia via its Halmed regulator, will approve the vaccine and the first batch of the vaccine could be in Croatia a few days after that and that is sooner than we have estimated,” said Plenkovic.
Next week the government will adopt a vaccine rollout plan and also a schedule for administering vaccinations in the first six months next year and will explain the benefits of the vaccine to citizens, he said..
Plenkovic also said that the government would discuss measures to support the economy at its session tomorrow, including the continuation of the job-retention grant of HRK 4,000 per worker if a particular business activity has to go into lockdown.
“For those activities that will not be able to work normally, we will continue with the measure of HRK 4,000 per worker in January and February. Based on initial projections we estimate some HRK 500 million for that and about 1.5 billion for active employment policies,” he said.
“True lever for economic recovery and development”
He recalled that in the next ten-year period Croatia has €24.3 billion at its disposal when funds from the new seven-year EU budget, the coronavirus recovery instrument known as Next Generation EU and the European solidarity fund are added.
That is a “true level of economic recovery and development,” said Plenkovic.
In order to absorb €6 billion in grants for recovery from the consequences of the coronavirus from the Next Generation EU, Croatia has to prepare a National Recovery Plan, he said, underscoring that €6 billion had been approved for Croatia in grants which are 11% of last year’s budget.
“Not one EU country has such a high level,” said Plenkovic and added there is €3.6 billion that Croatia has at its disposal in loans at the best possible interest rate, practically with no additional cost.