Croatian lawmakers debated on Wednesday legislation that would regulate the reconstruction of the Banovina region, following the devastating December 29 earthquake.
The government is proposing to incorporate this major rebuilding project into the recently passed law on the reconstruction of Zagreb, which followed another strong earthquake in March of last year and inflicted extensive damage to the capital and parts of Krapina-Zagorje County and Zagreb County.
Prime Minister Andrej Plenković told lawmakers the government's goal was a return to normal life as soon as possible for Banovina and that this also meant revitalizing the economy of one of the country's poorest regions. Given the extent of the damage and the economic status of this part of the country, the government was willing to be more generous than in the case of the Zagreb earthquake, he said, explaining the details of the proposal.
“The 60-20-20 model in this case means the following: 60% will be financed by the state, 20% by the county and if it can't, we have incorporated a provision in the law saying that the state will. Then it becomes 80-20, and if the owner cannot cover the 20%, then again the state will make sure the structure is rebuilt or repaired,” Plenković told the Sabor.
He added that in the case that the state covers the owners 20% share, that part of the property would be owned by the state and in the event the property is sold later on, it would be entitled to 20% of the sale price. His main message, however, was that no one would have to put up any money up front.
"No one needs to chip in any amount right away. Zero. That's a very important detail," he underscored.
Construction Minister Darko Horvat added that in underdeveloped areas where a state of disaster has been declared, homeowners will be entitled to the state footing the entire bill for rebuilding their damaged or destroyed homes.
Opposition deputies raised many concerns about the proposed legislation. SDP leader Peđa Grbin asked how the government would ensure that the people of Sisak were treated equally like their counterparts in the less developed communities of Petrinja and Glina.
"You said yourselves that even if Sisak was above average in terms of wealth, now, after the earthquake, it certainly is not,” he said.
Tomislav Tomašević from the Green Leftist Bloc said it was not clear what the term "supported area" meant. This was the term used by Minister Horvat when referring to underdeveloped communities. Tomašević called for clearer criteria when it comes to this issue.
Marija Selak Raspudić from Most said the proposal discriminated against other underdeveloped regions. Poorer parts of Krapina-Zagorje County will not be eligible for the 100% state funding that will be afforded to Petrinja and Glina, she said, stating that this was unfair.
Anka Mrak Taritaš of GLAS raised concerns about the speed at which this process was going forward and whether the result would be that many families would end up living in container and mobile home parks for years. Prime Minster Andrej Plenković took offense at the remark, but then declined to provide a timeline, saying that would be irresponsible of him. He pledged to carry out the reconstruction effort as quickly as possible. He also said it would be quicker and easier that the rebuilding of Zagreb because most of the structures in the Banovina region were free-standing homes and not city blocks of buildings.