Paladina tells MPs he wants to be minister to help post-quake reconstruction

NEWS 09.03.2022 13:28
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Source: Saborska TV

Ivan Paladina, the Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic's nominee to head the Ministry of Construction, said on Wednesday that "he could not turn down the proposal made by Plenkovic for his nomination, as it is a call to rebuild the earthquake-hit homes of Croatians," state agency Hina reported.

Paladina was nominated after his predecessor, Darko Horvat, handed in his resignation after getting detained in a graft probe. On Tuesday, opposition MPs decried Plenkovic’s choice to appoint Paladina – accusing him of nurturing links with “Russian oligarchs.”

“We have little time and a lot of work to do. I accepted this proposal as it also concerns the call to reconstruct the homes of our compatriots,” Paladina said while presenting his agenda at a joint meeting of the parliamentary committees on construction and the economy today.

Croatia was struck by two large earthquakes in March and December 2020, which hit the capital Zagreb and the largely rural area around the town of Petrinja in central Croatia respectively. Although Plenkovic’s government set up a special fund to oversee the reconstruction effort, and was given access to about €1 billion in EU funding, very little progress to repair the damage has been made since then.

On Tuesday, Paladina said that he is “always guided by principles of cooperation, inclusion of different opinions, and that he always listens to the opinions of professionals and wants to make things simpler,” state agency Hina said.

“Administrative obstacles must not slow down the reconstruction of anyone’s home and they must not hinder progress. People who suffered damage in the (2020) earthquakes, must not fall victim to the rules,” he said, blaming red tape for the lack of progress.

Paladina told lawmakers he would focus on “making legislative changes so as to accelerate the processes of post-quake reconstruction.”

From 2015 to 2018 Paladina was CEO of a major Zagreb-based construction company bought by Russian businessman Sergey Glyadelkin.It is unclear whether Glyadelkin

After 2018 Paladina worked at a separate company set up by Glyadelkin which wanted to redevelop a dilapidated tourist resort built during the Yugoslav era at Kupari, on Croatia’s southern Adriatic coast. The project envisioned demolishing the old modernist-style buildings, which local architects vehemently opposed.

“Concerning the criticism from opposition MPs that he was an executive of the company that ran the Kupari Luxury Hotels project, Paladina underscored that he had withdrawn from that project four years ago and that he launched procedures to exit from ownership, in this case, two years ago,” Hina said.

“All the investments I was included in were conducted in line with the law and market principles and I paid my taxes accordingly,” Paladina said.

In response to the questions from opposition MPs, Paladina said that to date he has completed “many successful investment projects in construction and real estate” and that his experience “could be useful for the post-quake reconstruction.”

Paladina also said that “he had already consulted experts and has detected the main problems in the process of the post-quake reconstruction,” without clarifying.

The 151-seat Parliament is expected to confirm Paladina’s appointment via a vote later on Wednesday, where Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic’s ruling coalition led by his conservative HDZ party commands a thin majority.

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