The Prime Minister talks to reporters in Dubrovnik following special cabinent session (Grgo Jelavic/PIXSELL) The Prime Minister talks to reporters in Dubrovnik following special cabinent session (Grgo Jelavic/PIXSELL)

The government has signed off on 4.5 billion kuna in projects related to water and utility infrastructure, tourism, business, transportation, and the Pelješac Bridge. Due to its strong tourism industry, Dubrovnik-Neretva County is a significant contributor to the state's coffers, but its poor transportation links with the rest of the country have left residents without many of the benefits that areas with highly developed economies usually enjoy, says County Prefect Nikola Dobroslavić.

"We have the highest quality and most expensive tourism in the country and that is surely reflected in the state budget. Without the tourism business this area would be in just as much trouble as the least developed parts of the country," he said.

That is why the government spent much of the cabinet session addressing transportation. The Pelješac Bridge, which is in the early stages of construction, is expected to have a huge effect on local development.

"The entire project, meaning the bridge, all access roads to it and all of the other related infrastructure, must be completed three years from now, to the day," the Prime Minister said.

The government signed off today on the reconstruction of a number of local and international roads that connect to the future bridge, underscored Transportation Minister Oleg Butković.

"The planned construction of the bridge, the highway on the Pelješac peninsula, and linking the Island of Korčula and the northwestern part of the peninsula, will bring significant improvement to the transportation infrastructure in the region," Butković said.

In other services improvements, residents of the Neretva River Valley will get an out-patient treatment centre. Health Minister Milan Kujundžić said the government had set aside 1.5 million kuna to launch the facility in Metković. When up and running, the center will provide specialized medical care to local residents who will no longer have to travel to Dubrovnik or Split to receive specialist treatment.

The government also fast-tracked the local water supply network project by labelling it as strategic. Economy Minister Darko Horvat said the goal of the project was to provide better water and sewage services to area residents.