OCTOBER 13 2012 13:41h
ZAGREB, Oct 13 (Hina) - Commenting on a protest rally which was organised by trade unions of teachers and nurses this past Thursday and which gathered 10,000 protesters in downtown Zagreb, Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said that "it is normal that people are worried" and added that he was primarily the prime minister of 310,000 people out of work.
"On the other hand, those (who protested) are not left without jobs... and according to the developments, they will not be left without jobs," the premier told the prime time news programme of the national broadcaster (HTV) on Friday evening.
Milanovic called on the protest leaders "to articulate where cutbacks should be made", wondering whether it should be done by reducing farm subsidies, social benefits or veterans' pensions.
"We live o credit -- this is not austerity, this is a fiscal adjustment," he said recalling that a great majority of trade unions had accepted agreement with the government.
As for the warning from the finance ministry that it would block the account of the City of Zagreb in order to collect outstanding debt in the amount of HRK 337.6 million, as a result for differences in "decentralised functions", Milanovic said that the City of Zagreb was not the only one in breach of that regulation and that all home rule units that failed to pay their amounts for decentralised functions into the state budget would have to pay their liabilities, no matter who was in power there.
Earlier on Friday, the finance ministry stated on its web site that it would launch procedure of the debt collection through foreclosure unless the City of Zagreb paid into the state budget HRK 337.6 million kuna until 15 October.
The ministry said this order was made based on the budget law in relation with regulations on the calculation of settlements for decentralised functions of home rule units.
In the meantime Mayor Milan Bandic said that he was ready to resign if his departure would help solve this problem, while PM Milanovic ruled out any political connotations to the case.
Bandic told a news conference that "the legal, financial and moral violence is being conducted against the city", claiming that since 1 January 2007, regulations on difference in decentralised functions were no longer in effect and that since then the income tax was within the jurisdiction of exclusively home rule units.
Milanovic told the HTV that the City of Zagreb "is facing the account blockade as the rule of law is functioning".
"The city will not collapse... but we must start behaving according to rules," the PM said, admitting that an impression was created that "the central government is harassing home rule units" bit it was not actually so.