Croatia’s PM sacks two ministers over sluggish post-earthquake reconstruction

Croatia’s PM sacks two ministers over sluggish post-earthquake reconstruction
Damage caused by the December 2020 earthquake in central Croatia.
By bne IntelliNews January 12, 2023

Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic removed the ministers of construction, Ivan Paladina, and of regional development and EU funds, Natasa Tramisak, on January 11 due to the slow progress in rebuilding earthquake-hit areas.

Two devastating earthquakes hit Croatia in March and December 2020. The December 2020 earthquake that struck close to the town of Petrinja had a magnitude of 6.4 and destroyed much of the town. However, although the authorities have already received more than 3mn requests for renovations, only six houses were built and 84 were under construction. 15 community buildings are also under construction.

At a press conference, Plenkovic announced, as reported by local media, that Paladina has lost his trust as there was insufficient progress in the recovery of the Banija – an area near the capital Zagreb – and Petrinja. He will be replaced by Branko Bacic, the chairman of the parliamentary group of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

Plenkovic said that he proposed Bacic for deputy prime minister as he is one of his closest collaborators and has solid experience.

Tramisak will be replaced by the state secretary in the same ministry, Sime Erlic. Tramisak said at a press conference later on the same day she did not get an adequate explanation on the reasons why she was removed.

“As for Minister Tramisak, she was not the happiest to leave the government, but I understand that,” Plenkovic said.

However, he did not provide an explanation for his decision during the press conference and only said that trust was the most important for collaboration.

Tramisak later wrote on her Facebook page that she was "honoured to have had the opportunity to make a positive contribution to the Croatian state and our people by working as the minister of regional development and European Union funds". We have significantly improved all key indicators regarding the withdrawal of funds from EU funds, which directly affects the quality of life in our homeland.

"My loyalty to the Croatian state is unquestionable, and I will continue to do everything in my power to make Croatia more developed and even better," she added. 

The government previously assessed the direct damage caused by earthquakes in 2020 at HRK41.6bn, of which Sisak-Moslavina County accounts for more than 90% or HRK37.5bn.

It is nearly three years since an earthquake close to the Croatian capital Zagreb destroyed buildings in the city during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown in March 2020. Among the prominent buildings were Zagreb's cathedral and several of its museums

Then in December the same year least seven people were killed in an earthquake that struck central Croatia. The epicentre of the magnitude 6.4 earthquake was in Petrinja, where a 12-year-old girl was killed, and Five more deaths were reported in the nearby towns of Glina and Zazina. The earthquake also caused widespread damage to buildings, which was worsened by a series of aftershocks.