Minister Horvat says organised post-earthquake reconstruction to start in early spring

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​(Hina) - Construction Minister Darko Horvat said on Friday that the organised post-earthquake reconstruction of Zagreb and Krapina-Zagorje and Zagreb counties would start in early spring and that EU funds for that purpose should be paid already around December 1.

"A certain number of projects are nearing completion and we will start with them. I am optimistic that organised reconstruction will start already in early spring," Horvat said after a meeting of an expert group in charge of EU reconstruction grants.

The minister said that requests for the payment of close to HRK 80 million worth of finished reconstruction work had arrived, adding that of around 130 facilities in the education system requiring reconstruction, 119 had been repaired.

Horvat dismissed as insinuation claims that one was stalling with reconstruction and that nothing was being done in that regard.

The Fund for the Reconstruction of the City of Zagreb, Krapina-Zagorje and Zagreb Counties has been formally registered today, Horvat said, noting that the fund will primarily be in charge of the process of reconstruction of privately-owned houses and apartment buildings.

He said that more than HRK 250 million had been secured from the state budget for the Fund's work and that at the moment there was sufficient funding for organised reconstruction in Zagreb and the two counties in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

The rest of the European money will arrive when the triage is completed and when the European Commission, European Parliament and European Council reach agreement, Horvat said, noting that this could happen around December 1.

18-month deadline to justify money spent

Once the EC pays the entire amount for reconstruction work, totalling €683.7 million, an 18-month deadline starts running during which the amount spent will have to be justified, he said.

The deadline for the establishment of a mechanism to supervise how the money is spent is November 15, Horvat said, adding that a decision on the matter would be ready by the government session next Thursday, when implementation bodies in the competent ministries would be determined.

After the government session, the relevant documents will be sent to Brussels and information on their verification or necessary correction will arrive soon, meaning that a formal decision will arrive by December 1, after which payments will be made into the state budget. The finance minister will then distribute the HRK 5.1 billion for reconstruction work among government departments, said Horvat.

At a recent session the government approved the establishment of the Fund for the Reconstruction of the City of Zagreb and Krapina-Zagorje and Zagreb Counties, appointing Damir Vandjelic its temporary director.

PM Andrej Plenkovic said that the signing of the agreement on the Fund's establishment marked the formal beginning of reconstruction work in Zagreb following the March 22 earthquake.