Committees give vote of confidence to Branko Bačić as new minister

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(Hina) - After a four-hour debate, the relevant parliamentary committees on Monday supported Branko Bačić as the future Minister of Physical Planning and Construction.

Bačić, who has so far been the whip of the bench of the ruling HDZ party, was presented at the joint session of the Physical Planning and Construction Committee and the Economy Committee by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

The 151-seat parliament will hold a vote of confidence in the ministerial nominees Bačić and Šime Erlić for the posts of Minister of Construction and Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds respectively on Tuesday. In order to be appointed, they need the support of at least 76 MPs.

Bačić informed the parliamentary committees that the first necessary thing is a change of the reconstruction model, which implies the merger and unification of the implementing bodies - the Reconstruction Fund and the Central State Office for Reconstruction and Housing. He warned that in Croatia, reconstruction after the two devastating earthquakes in 2020 is not being conducted according to the same criteria, not even norms.

The second step aimed at speeding up the post-quake reconstruction is the simplification of the administrative process, because now, for example, a person who comes from Korčula to Banovina can get a permit to build a house easier than to rebuild his or her house if they live in Banovina.

Bačić asserted that it is very difficult to create a plan and agenda based on the existing reconstruction system, adding that he was confident that it is necessary to speed up and simplify the submission of requests.

"No one can manage the reconstruction if there is no plan and roadmap for reconstruction, and there is no reconstruction plan. In order to have a reconstruction plan, we must have all the requirements from the field united in one place," he said.

That, Bačić concluded, was the beginning of quality reconstruction, but until they get that, predictions about further reconstruction can be based on what they have in the ministry and what the two implementing bodies are doing.

The nominated minister also said that, if he is elected tomorrow in Parliament, he will reduce the number of participants in the overall reconstruction and the number of procedures by 40 percent, when it comes to structural renovation and construction of replacement houses.

He also advocated a more suitable and transparent public procurement.

Bačić stated that the two main priorities for this year are to spend €1.3 billion from the Solidarity Fund by the end of June, and the most important thing is that most of the 4,500 fellow citizens living in containers be adequately accommodated by the beginning of the next heating season.

He stated that those who will not be able to return to their homes will be provided with suitable accommodation in prefabricated wooden houses.

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