Sunday, 24 March 2019

What has happened to the Adriatic Sea in Dubrovnik? These photos were sent to us by a reader and show the incredibly low tide in the Bay of Pile just outside of the Old City walls.

Although there is a slight tide in the Croatian Adriatic, around 1 metres difference, this photo shows a rather surprising low tide.

The Bay of Pile, which was the background of the Battle of Blackwater Bay in the popular Game of Thrones series, is normally throughout the summer the location of many kayak and water sport attractions. We feel that they would have problems offering a service without a sea.

pile no sea 2019

Standard & Poor's on Friday raised its sovereign credit ratings on Croatia to 'BBB-/A-3' from 'BB+/B', putting the country's rating after six years back into the investment category owing to an improved situation in the budget and economic recovery.

The BB+/B rating describes a country's debt securities as speculative investment, while BBB-/A-3 is an investment category.

In December 2012, S&P downgraded Croatia's rating to a non-investment category. The outlook now is stable.

Improved fiscal metrics

"The upgrade reflects Croatia's improving fiscal metrics, underpinned by its recent economic recovery thanks to tax-rich domestic demand, but also fiscal consolidation measures implemented by the authorities. "The general government has run primary fiscal surpluses since 2015, including of 3 percent of GDP on average in 2017-2018, with public debt as a share of GDP declining by 10 percentage points between 2015 and 2018.

"Risks to GDP performance, public finance, and financial stability emanating from the bankruptcy of Croatia's largest food retailer Agrokor have abated. We also view the likelihood of fiscal slippages--from the payment of state guarantees against Uljanik shipyard's debt liabilities--as reduced," S&P says.

Economic performance solid and balanced

"Croatia's recent economic performance has been solid and balanced. Growth has been accompanied by recurring current account surpluses, driven by buoyant tourism-related inflows, allowing net external leverage to reduce severalfold to just 13 percent of GDP in 2018.

"The stable outlook balances the potential for a reform-driven faster income convergence with wealthier trading partners against risks emanating from external uncertainties.

"We could raise the ratings over the next two-to-three years if Croatia's economic growth proves resilient to Europe's cyclical slowdown, allowing continued convergence with EU average income levels and possibly aided by removing structural impediments to growth. If public debt reduced faster than we currently anticipate, this could also prove positive for the ratings.

"We could lower the ratings if we observed a material economic downturn, possibly driven by a significant weakening in the external environment, which would reverse recent fiscal gains. An emergence of higher-than-expected contingent liabilities could also put pressure on the ratings if such liabilities caused a sizable fiscal drain or a drag on the economy.

"External debt has declined amid ongoing export growth and persistent current account surpluses. Recent fiscal improvements also support the ratings," S&P says.

Growth moderating

After in 2018 Croatia's economy grew by 2.6 percent, S&P expects economic growth to moderate to around 2.5 percent on average in 2019-2022. "The government has implemented tax and pension reform this year, but demographic trends will continue to weigh on the public purse."

"Croatia's economy has seen resilient growth since emerging from recession in 2015. In its flagship tourism sector, tourist arrivals have almost doubled since 2010 to around 20 million visitors in 2018.

"While tourism-related revenues amount to almost 20 percent of GDP, manufacturing as well as other services such as transportation are also important contributors to GDP," S&P says, noting that personal consumption will remain strong, helped by rising employment and wages as well as tax reforms.

Investment growth

"Investment should benefit from increasing EU fund absorption, public infrastructure investments such as the Peljesac bridge, soaring construction activity generally, and the effects of recent tax reforms.

"Net exports will detract from growth in 2019-2022 as domestic demand pulls in imports. Goods exports already started decelerating in 2018, which could worsen if there is a sizable and protracted slowdown in key trading partners such as Italy or Germany."

"Croatia has made progress on important structural reforms. The third round of taxation reform took effect in January 2019, among other things reducing the VAT rate for certain items. This, in turn, is set to stimulate disposable incomes, while reduced labour costs for employers could support investment

"According to preliminary estimates, Croatia posted a general government surplus in 2018 for the second year in a row. This was supported by higher tax revenues but also expenditure savings, for example on the interest bill."

"The 2018 fiscal results could have been even better if the government guarantee for the struggling Uljanik shipyards had not been activated," says S&P.

Public debt on downward path

S&P analysts estimate that the net general government debt will decline to just below 60 percent of GDP by 2022 from the 75 percent peak in 2015.

They also estimate that inflation will be contained at about 1.5 percent on average over the coming two to three years.

They note that Croatia will be chairing the Council of the EU in the first half of 2020 and that it hopes to join the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM II) that same year.

Since early 2018 the country's rating or outlook have been upgraded by the world's three leading rating agencies, with S&P now having raised the country's rating to the investment category.

Fitch is keeping Croatia's rating one grade below and Moody's two grades below the investment category, with Fitch describing the country's outlook as positive and Moody's as stable.

Those fatal words, that fatal sentence, drifted in the air for a few seconds, until it was repeated again like an echo bouncing around the inside of Minčeta. “I think it’s time we painted the house again.” Were my ears deceiving me? Had the P-word been mentioned? Yes!

We have had a few disasters on the painting front before and this time I wanted, no needed, to avoid another one. We’ve somehow managed in the past to buy pink paint, to buy enough paint to keep Jupol in business for a decade, to buy façade paint and to cover everything, from the sofa to the TV, in white paint.

I remember all those years ago when the only colour you could buy was white. It is a simpler time. Everything was bright white. Now there are shades of this, hues of that and all of them have fancy names.

We plumped on “Curry 50.” For a few reasons. Firstly, it was an easy name to remember. It was also my favourite food. And, probably more importantly, it was a nice colour. It seemed like a strange name for a paint colour, it wasn’t exotic or even that descriptive. And yes of course I asked if they had a Curry 49, but I was met with a blank expression from the shop assistant. Experience is the best teacher. So far more important that the paint was the protection so that, as it had done several times in the past, the paint didn’t fly everywhere and colour my dogs “Curry 50.” Reels of Tape and some kind of huge nylon sheet that looked like a serial killer would roll it out before chopping up his victims.

How nice it is to work with your hands sometimes. Maybe I should have changed my profession and become a stonemason or carpenter, although I would need some serious training. It’s always the hardest to work with people. A big lump of stone of a plank of wood doesn’t complain or have a million excuses. So there I was in front of the first blank wall, if I was an artist a blank canvas, but an artist I am certainly not. I had covered the whole room, in mean the whole room, with plastic sheeting. A serial killer could go wild and CSI wouldn’t have a clue afterwards.

The first dunk of the roller in the paint and I aimed at the ceiling. I say aimed because when the roller hit the ceiling the majority of the paint flew off and landed right over me. The only thing in the room not wrapped up like a salami in a plastic coating was me. I fleetingly considered rolling in the plastic sheeting, like a huge condom around me, but instead went for the natural approach and stripped down to shorts and a T-shirt. “At least the paint will be easier to wash off me than all my clothes,” I said to me already laughing wife. It seems that we spend a lot, or maybe too much, of our decorating time laughing. Dressed for the beach I slopped the paint up on the ceiling again. Yes, I got sprayed but at least this time most of it hit flesh. Paint just has a magnet, or an affection, for me. Every time I looked up a blob of paint would find my head. I wonder if Michelangelo had the same problem when he was painting the Sistine Chapel.

He was just going in to put the final touches to Mary and Christ and a dribble of paint rolled from his brush and into his eye. A few hours later and the first room was painted, and although there was a fair amount of paint of the sheeting, and of course all over me, it didn’t look too bad at all. I’m not likely to get a job painting other people’s houses or even painting the white lines in the middle of the road, but the first room had turned out above my low expectations. And like I said there was a strange relief about painting, about working with my hands for a change. I could switch off and just concentrate with what I was doing.

As one of Michelangelo’s colleagues, Leonardo da Vinci said, “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.” Strangely enough I went away for some relaxation whilst painting the rooms (and myself.)                       

The Brexit situation is, to say the least, fluid. And many British travellers looking to spend their summer holidays on the beaches of Europe this year have a whole range of concerns regarding their rights in the future, whether in the case of a deal or a no-deal. And of course for the millions of UK nationals who call the European Union home they also have worries on their status in the future.

One of the biggest concerns is undoubtedly their healthcare rights in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

In light of these concerns the UK government has released some fresh advice for UK travellers in the case of a no-deal Brexit. This latest, and updated advice, was published on the official website of the UK government and gives important guidelines for UK nationals looking to travel to Europe after Brexit and the moves they need to make to protect their healthcare.

Here is the advice for the UK government in full:

Healthcare advice for UK travellers in the event of a no-deal EU Exit

Updated advice for UK travellers on the continuity of reciprocal healthcare arrangements in the event of a no-deal EU Exit.
Leaving the EU with a deal remains the government’s top priority and would give all UK nationals the stability and certainty to prepare for our new relationship after EU Exit. However, the government must plan for every possible outcome, including no deal.

All UK nationals who are planning to reside in, travel to, work or study in the EU or European Free Trade Area (EFTA) states (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) are strongly advised to check the country-specific guidance on GOV.UK and NHS.UK about healthcare arrangements if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

The Department of Health and Social Care has been working closely with EU member states and EFTA states to protect existing healthcare arrangements for these and other groups. However, it is not possible for the UK government to guarantee access unilaterally to healthcare abroad.

Actions for UK nationals

Visitors to the EU

The government always advises UK nationals to take out travel insurance when going overseas, both to EU and non-EU destinations. UK nationals, including those with pre-existing conditions, planning to visit a country in the EU/EFTA on exit day should continue to buy travel insurance.

Any questions regarding individual travel insurance policies should be directed to the relevant insurance companies or refer to guidance published on the Association of British Insurers (ABI) website.

Residents in the EU

Substantial numbers of UK nationals will already be eligible for or enrolled in local health services, because of their residency, benefits or employment status. There is no reason to think that a no-deal scenario will affect these arrangements where EU countries offer equal access to healthcare.

UK nationals resident in the EU are advised to register their healthcare entitlement with their local authorities, if they have not already done so. This may mean that they will need to join a social insurance scheme and contribute as other residents do. Others will need to buy private healthcare insurance.

The UK government’s offer

In order to continue to support the healthcare needs of UK nationals, we have made an offer to EU member states and EFTA states to maintain the existing healthcare arrangements, in both a deal or no-deal scenario, until 31 December 2020.

This would mean that we will continue to pay for healthcare costs for current or former UK residents for whom the UK has responsibility who are living or working in or visiting the EU.

We have brought forward legislation to enable us to implement new reciprocal healthcare arrangements.

Although we are hopeful that EU member states will accept our offer, as a responsible government we have developed a multi-layered approach to minimise disruption to healthcare provision for UK nationals currently in or travelling to the EU:

  • some EU member states have prepared their own legislation for a no-deal scenario. Spain has publicly committed to healthcare access for resident and visiting UK nationals
  • the UK and Ireland are committed to continuing healthcare access within the Common Travel Area
  • the UK has already agreed with EFTA states to protect citizens’ rights, including healthcare
  • the UK will fund healthcare for UK nationals who have applied for, or are undergoing, treatment in the EU prior to and on exit day, for up to one year
  • we have published country-specific guidance on GOV.UK and NHS.UK
  • UK nationals may use NHS services if they return to live in the UK
  • those who have their healthcare funded by the UK and are resident in the EU on exit day can use NHS services in England without charge when on a temporary visit
  • the ABI has advised that travel insurance policies will cover emergency medical treatment costs that could have been reclaimed through European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs)

If EU member states do not agree to extend the existing healthcare arrangements before exit day, many of the arrangements for access to healthcare in the EU would change for UK nationals. Healthcare arrangements in many member states would revert to those that apply to the rest of the world.

In a no-deal scenario, UK nationals may no longer be able to use their EHICs when travelling to the EU.

The national humanitarian campaign ‘’Day of narcissus’’ will be held on Saturday, March 23rd. On that occasion, in front of the church of Saint Blaise, from 10 am to noon, the Cancer League Dubrovnik and its Club of Oncology Patients organizes the campaign of narcissus sale and sharing of leaflets and brochures. The money collected in this action will be invested in the purchase of a modern ultrasound device for the Dubrovnik General Hospital.

Everybody are invited to show solidarity and empathy to those that really, really need it!

The best Bosnian football player of all time, Edin Dzeko, captain of the Bosnia and Herzegovina national team and Roma player, will invest in coffee shop in Dubrovnik.

That was confirmed to Poslovni dnevnik by his longtime friend and Dubrovnik business partner Miho Obradovic, who explained that Dzeko will make a smaller investment in a coffee shop in the Lapad area.

-We are friends for 12 years and this is our first joint investment. It will not be an elite bar, as it is mentioned in some media, but a classic coffee shop. The works are finished and it should be open in 15 days - said Obradovic for Poslovni dnevnik.

Dzeko is certainly not a stranger in Dubrovnik, he often visits  and has a group of close friends in the city. He is also an owner of the villa in the Lapad area from 2015. 

From 21st to 23rd of March, Dubrovnik hosts one of the largest medical conferences in Croatia this year. The third world congress on 3D / 4D ultrasound in gynecology and obstetrics is held at the Valamar Lacroma Hotel and is celebrating the 30th anniversary of clinical 3D ultrasound in this medical field.

The chairpersons of this conference are the distinguished Croatian doctor and academician Asim Kurjak, who is also the director of Ian Donald's ultrasound school in Croatia and Professor Eberhard Merz, director of the Ian Donald School in Germany. Two renowned doctors and scientists have gathered in Dubrovnik a world medical and scientific elite from around fifty countries of the world with the intention of presenting and discussing the latest research and knowledge in this modern and highly advanced technology during the three days.

The congress is held under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Croatia Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic.

In 2018 a total of 9.9 million Kunas worth of food was donated to Croatian charities, which was down almost a million Kuna when compared with 2017.

The Croatian Tax Office collected data on the amount of food donated to Croatian charities as part of an action which will be launched in Brussels to mark the most generous companies. However, the data collected shows that donations have dropped significantly and even more worrying is that around 380,000 tonnes of food is thrown away every day, the vast majority by households.

The biggest donators of food in Croatia in recent years have been the supermarket chain Konzum and the dairy producer Dukat.

With summer rapidly approaching its high time to plan your Dubrovnik vacation. And what better way to relax than to find a stress-free island in the sun and roll out the beach towel.

We have chosen our “Top Five Dubrovnik Island Getaways” to give you all some handy ideas on where to island-hop this summer. With over 1,000 islands dotted along the Croatian coastline you’ll be spoilt for choice, but here are a few ideas.


Gundulic Square is busy: the renewal of the part of the pavement and archaeological research below the square is ongoing. Renovation works are worth 315,320 kuna and are performed by the contractor of the City of Dubrovnik for reconstruction of pavements in the historical core - company Gradevinar Quelin d.d. from Dubrovnik.

In order to avoid the disruption of everyday life of the Dubrovnik citizens, the works are divided into phases. At this stage of the work, about 100 square meters of sidewalks are open, and after the research has been carried out, the pavement will be repaired in such a way as to try to preserve as many old panels as possible, in accordance with the Dubrovnik Conservation Department guidelines. Works on this part will be completed by April 21nd, and the next works on renewal are scheduled for fall, after the end of the tourist season. In 2019, the City of Dubrovnik provided 800,000 kuna for renovation and restoration of pavements in the old city center.

Below the square are the remains of buildings dating back to the history before the great earthquake in 1667, the front wall of the street and the early paving, which was also found during the previous reconstruction of the part of the square in 2015. The pavements were of brick, structured like the fish bone, which are medieval street levels in Dubrovnik. The street was facing north-south.

In the part that is currently being sanitized, there were residential buildings before the earthquake. In the excavations is the currently visible Austrian canal from the 19th century, as well as the contours of the front wall. It is expected to find economic facilities that were on the ground floor of the Dubrovnik drainage channel near the Ranjina Palace. Excavations work up to one meter deep, and archeological research will take another ten days.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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