Minister: Construction sector going through golden era

Photo /slike/Opcenito/2024_06_19_image-1.jpg

(Hina) - Construction Minister Branko Bačić said on Thursday that the national construction sector was going through a golden era, marked by high growth rates, and that with the continuation of smart policies, it would continue to be very busy.

Addressing a conference organised by the Croatian Chamber of Civil Engineers, the minister said that growth rates in the construction sector had been high since 2016, owing largely to money from EU funds, and he noted that of the €25 billion available in the current decade, a large part would pass through the hands of Croatian contractors.

Of the €25 billion, €14 billion will be provided under the EU's multiannual financial framework and €11 billion under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, he said.

Bačić noted that the Croatian economy in Q1 2024 grew at a rate of 3.9% and that the construction sector had made a major contribution to that growth.

In Q1, the volume of construction work in Croatia grew by 14.5% compared to the same period of last year, with the construction sector accounting for 25% of the 3.9% growth rate, he said.

The minister noted that now was the golden era for the construction sector, that many projects were in the pipeline and that with the continuation of smart policies, the construction sector would be very busy.

At the end of 2023, there were 147,000 workers in the construction sector, around 12,000 more than the year before but there is a labour shortage, which is possibly the biggest challenge, along with the need for competencies.

Bačić recalled that demographic revitalisation was one of the government's priorities, with housing policy playing an important part in it, noting that a national housing policy plan would be made to help young families obtain affordable housing.

Asked if his ministry was following European strategies concerning transport networks, Bačić said that it followed very much the European regulations, adding that in 2023 the decision on the Trans-European Transport (TEN-T) network was amended. Until then, Croatia was on two corridors and now it is on two more - the Baltic-Adriatic and Western Balkans-East Mediterranean corridors - to be incorporated into the national physical planning system and transport strategy.

It is up to us at the competent ministry to do our best so that those transport corridors become a reality quickly, he said.

He added that the decision would enable the financing of 420 kilometres of new railways and the upgrading and reconstruction of eight ports and six urban hubs in Croatia.

We are following and participating in the preparation of new EU policies regarding transport infrastructure, as well as green policies, decarbonisation and digital transformation, he said.