(Photo: Patrik Macek/PIXSELL) (Photo: Patrik Macek/PIXSELL)

The government plans to send the bill to lawmakers next week. Prime Minister Andrej Pleknović said many of the suggestions submitted by lawmakers had been included into the final draft, including socio-economic criteria to provide additional financial assistance to those in need.

"We accepted 25 concrete proposals, others we incorporated only partially, and some we were not able to accept. We incorporated socio-economic criteria into the bill. We want this bill to get a broad consensus on this bill, and that includes opposition parties, when parliament meets for an extraordinary session next week,” said Plenković, adding that he wanted the debate of the bill to be constructive so that reconstruction can begin as soon as possible.

Zagreb and its surrounding areas were hit by a devastating earthquake on March 22, 2020. It was the strongest quake in the region in 100 years. Many buildings, particularly older structures in the city center and homes near the epicenter, suffered irreparable or very serious structural damage.

Under the bill, the state will give priority to the rebuilding of schools and hospitals. When it comes to private homes, the state and local governments will cover 80% of the cost of building new homes in cases where the damage was total. Homeowners will have to cover the remaining 20%. The government has included a mechanism into the bill that would set up criteria for exemptions to this rule for low-income homeowners and disabled veterans. Qualified applicants would be eligible for up to full coverage. More than 450 property owners have applied for financial assistance to rebuild their homes.