Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.
Midweek to weekend, there are 1,300 tourists in Dubrovnik, five percent more than this time last year, according to figures from the eVisitor system.
Alongside domestic tourists, the most numerous are guests from Germany, the United Kingdom, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the United States, Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Ukraine.
The new property declaration of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has been published, stating that his net salary for the position of Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia is €3,262.83. Plenković's gross salary amounts to €4,646.46. The property declaration states that Plenković has no other income.
During this year, his wife used parental leave, so the property declaration states that she had no income, and her employer paid her €300 as a Christmas bonus and €300 as a gift for the children.
As an employee of the Croatian Parliament, she received another payment and earned €8,338.29, reports Jutarnji List.
Plenković owns an apartment in Zagreb with an area of 191 square meters. The value of this apartment is estimated at €346,406.53. He also owns another property in Zagreb with an area of 5.63 square meters, valued at €2,645.46.
Plenković and his wife are co-owners with third parties of a house with a yard in the village of Makoše. The total area is 759 square meters, with the value of the house estimated at €66,361.40. His ownership share is 33.33 percent.
Another property listed in his property declaration is a property with an area of 25 square meters and a value of €156.25 in Stari Grad. Plenković inherited this property from his parents, and it is co-owned.
He also owns a personal vehicle, a VW Passat from 2011, valued at €10,000. He has no other movable property valued at more than €3,981.68.
Plenković has declared ownership of 69 shares in T-HT, with a nominal value of €13.27 per share. He holds government bonds worth €30,000 and has invested €5,000 in treasury bills. His wife has also invested the same amount.
Regarding savings, Plenković has declared €220,000, obtained from income from dependent work and inheritance. His wife has €7,224.78 in housing savings at PBZ Housing Savings Bank.
In a statement yesterday, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković highlighted Croatia's remarkable economic performance in 2023, affirming one of the highest GDP growth rates in the European Union. With GDP growth reaching 2.8 percent, Plenković emphasized this as the twelfth consecutive quarter of growth, showcasing a resilient upward trajectory. Notably, Croatia's real GDP surged by 15.5 percent compared to the pre-pandemic fourth quarter of 2019, marking the EU's third-strongest growth after Ireland and Malta.
Plenković attributed this success to various factors, including robust household consumption, wage growth, and substantial investments from domestic and European sources. He commended the government's effective economic policies, accurately forecasting a 2.8 percent growth rate, significantly outpacing the EU and euro area's projections of 0.5 percent.
He proudly noted Croatia's position as the EU's second-fastest-growing economy in 2023, trailing only Malta, with the highest economic growth in the fourth quarter.
Looking ahead to 2024, Plenković anticipates sustained GDP growth at a rate surpassing the EU average. He credited the government's prudent economic and fiscal policies during the Covid-19 pandemic for fostering economic resilience. Additionally, he acknowledged the contributions of Croatian entrepreneurs and workers, underscoring the government's measures to mitigate inflationary pressures, injecting 7.2 billion euros into the economy, bolstering purchasing power and personal consumption.
Some expected that due to rising interest rates, property prices in Croatia would begin to fall, but that did not happen. For example, the price per square metre of a newly built apartment in Zagreb ranges between three and five thousand euros, with the majority of buyers being Croatian citizens. Economic growth and higher wages are expected to continue driving demand in the real estate market, reports HRT.
"People are evidently willing to pay such prices, but we'll see; my estimate is that this most expensive segment, albeit overpriced, will correct itself. But I don't think there will be a significant price collapse like we had 15 years ago from 2009 to 2015," said Velimir Šonje, an economic analyst.
"When we look at it as citizens, as people who are buying, these are extremely high prices, but we must consider that in Trešnjevka or Knežija, there are a total of 200 properties for sale. And that's the main problem we have in Croatia, which is the supply," says Filip Brkan, owner of a real estate agency.
"The supply is still insufficient and inadequate considering the accumulated demand over these many years. It is necessary for public property to be injected, for a new quantity of products to break the imbalance between supply and demand," says Vedrana Likan, a real estate expert.
Construction has increased since last year. Due to entry into the Eurozone and Schengen, investors are taking a more serious look at Croatia.
"We still feel a significant demand in terms of apartment construction, partly because of people's need to move to better spaces, both because of Croatians who predominantly invest in real estate as a form of savings," concludes Tomislav Kamenski, a construction investor.
A significant drop in prices is not on the horizon, even due to a slight increase in interest rates. Experts note that citizens are more relaxed and more willing to buy than in previous years.
In January 2024, the price of olive oil across the European Union witnessed a staggering surge, marking a 50% spike compared to January 2023. This substantial rise in prices has sparked concerns among consumers and industry experts alike.
The escalation in olive oil costs began in the latter half of 2023, with notable increments observed each month. August saw a significant surge of 37% compared to the same period in 2022. This upward trend continued relentlessly, with September and October witnessing spikes of 44% and 50%, respectively. November 2023 marked the pinnacle, with prices soaring by a staggering 51% compared to November 2022. While December showed a slight slowdown, the prices remained substantially higher, with a 47% increase compared to December 2022.
The inflation rate for olive oil, spanning from January 2021 to January 2024, illustrates a substantial and consistent rise over the years. This data, represented in a line chart, underscores the concerning trajectory of olive oil prices within the EU, reports Eurostat.
Photo - Eurostat
Furthermore, in January 2024, all EU member states reported a surge in annual inflation rates for olive oil. Portugal led with the highest increase, recording a staggering 69% surge compared to January 2023. Greece followed closely with a 67% increase, while Spain reported a 63% hike.
In contrast, some EU countries experienced comparatively smaller price increases. Romania recorded the smallest rise at 13%, followed by Ireland at 16%, and the Netherlands at 18%.
The significant surge in olive oil prices raises alarm bells, with consumers in Croatia particularly affected by a notable over 40% increase in prices. This sharp rise underscores the pressing need for closer scrutiny and potential interventions to mitigate the impact on consumers and the broader economy.
The Deputy Mayor of Dubrovnik, Jelka Tepšić, yesterday received the inaugural visit of the Ambassador of Sweden to the Republic of Croatia, Her Excellency Anna Bode, who has held this position since August last year.
They discussed the challenges facing tourism in Dubrovnik, and Deputy Mayor Tepšić briefed Ambassador Bode on the measures of the Respect the City project, through which Dubrovnik has managed to change the perspective in the international public regarding overtourism.
"This year, we expect a very successful tourist season. We are implementing Respect the City measures, controlling cruises, working on sustainability, and the latest GSTC destination assessment for the City of Dubrovnik in 2023 confirms that we are on the right track, reaching as high as 86 percent," Deputy Mayor Tepšić also said.
Ambassador Bode also provided information that there are currently 50 Swedish companies operating in Croatia, which also strive to work on sustainability principles.
In addition to the embassy in Zagreb, Sweden has honorary consulates in Dubrovnik, Split, and Rijeka. Also present at the meeting in the Dubrovnik City Administration was Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Sweden in Dubrovnik, Tonći Peović.
A leap year occurs every four years, adding an extra day to the calendar to synchronize it with the solar year. This extra day, February 29th, is known as Leap Day.
The reason for leap years is to account for the discrepancy between the calendar year (365 days) and the time it takes for the Earth to orbit the sun (approximately 365.25 days).
Without leap years, over time, our calendar would fall out of sync with the seasons. Leap years are characterized by having 366 days instead of the usual 365, with February having an additional day.
This phenomenon has been recognized and utilized in various cultures for centuries, ensuring our calendars remain accurate and aligned with the astronomical year.
In Croatia, the number of foreign workers arriving each month is steadily increasing, and according to some estimates, there will be as many as half a million of them in our country within seven years, which represents a quarter of the workforce.
Foreign workers face a range of problems that are planned to be addressed by amendments to the Foreigners Act, presented yesterday by Ministers Davor Božinović and Marin Piletić, reports HRT.
The system, among other things, is planned to be regulated by issuing longer work permits, stricter controls on employers, introducing blacklists and six-year penalties, as well as language learning programs.
“Although the law has long existed in our legislation, the amendments carry weight because as a nation, we are faced for the first time with an increase in issued permits for the stay of foreigners, which means that Croatia is becoming not only a country of emigration but also immigration. It is becoming a country that has fully integrated internationally into the circle of democratic states, which has brought economic growth and state standards, making it a more attractive destination for work for people from other parts of the world, not just neighbouring countries as we are used to, said Božinović.
Immigrantion is necessary
He added that “Given the demographic trends and the decrease in population, as well as depopulation in parts of Croatia, it is clear that immigration is necessary to meet the demands of the labour market in order to maintain the number of economically active population and for the economy and the state to function optimally. The number of legal entries into Croatia is increasing, and we are doing everything we can to prevent illegal entries.”
The largest number of immigrants to Croatia are foreign workers brought in by employers, people with lower levels of qualifications. There is a fluctuation among them, and they mostly temporarily reside in Croatia.
Majority of foreign workers in construction
He emphasized that the need for labour is far greater than the available workers in sectors such as construction, industry, transportation, and hospitality.
“The domestic population is aging, and the number of workers is decreasing, so there is a need for importing labour to maintain the competitiveness of the economy, to attract investments, but also to maintain the pension, health, and social system,” Božinović emphasized.
The number of employed persons has increased by 98,626 in the last few years, while the number of unemployed has decreased by 45,625. The number of issued work and residence permits from 2016 to the end of 2023 was 96,086, of which 8,000 were from EU member states, and the rest were third countries.
Speaking of activities, the highest number of permits were issued in construction (44 percent), tourism (25 percent), transportation (6 percent), and trade (3 percent), while all other activities accounted for 9 percent.
As for nationalities, in 2023, we had 28,000 workers from Bosnia and Herzegovina, 24,000 from Serbia, 23,000 from Nepal, 15,600 from India, 13,400 from Macedonia, almost 10,000 from Kosovo, 8,749 from Bangladesh, 5,000 from Turkey, and 4,244 from Albania.