Zagreb - The Croatian parliament on Friday adopted a set of laws regulating water management as well as the Law on State Administration which depoliticises, professionalises and decentralises state administration and makes it more efficient.
The new laws on water and water services and the financing of water management are aimed at making the operation of public providers of water services more economical and more efficient to create conditions for introducing a uniform water service rate in a given area. The laws also introduce the Water Services Council to prevent monopoly-based and excessively high rates as well as excessively low rates. They keep water services in the public sector and enable greater consumer protection by introducing obligatory public consultation on decisions related to water service rates.
The parliament also adopted the Law on State Administration which abolishes 20 bodies of state administration, reducing the number of such bodies from 52 to 32. Under the new law, assistant ministers will no longer be state officials and heads of state administration bodies will be professionals, hired in a public selection procedure.
The parliamentary majority turned down an amendment to the law, put forward by the Social Democratic Party (SDP), under which those officials would be appointed after parliamentary elections.
This is not about depoliticising state administration but about repoliticising it, said SDP MP Arsen Bauk, warning about the possibility that politically appointed assistant ministers could now be appointed to head state administration bodies as professionals.
The parliament also voted in amendments to the Law on Responsibilities and Entitlements of State Officials to include among state officials the chief state inspector and the chief fire commander.
The parliament adopted the government's amendments under which the deputy and assistant heads of the Croatian Health Insurance Institute (HZZO) would no longer have the status of state officials but that of civil servants.
SDP MP Gordan Maras said during the debate on the amendments that their purpose was to enable the ruling HDZ party to secure employment for its adherents, which prompted HDZ MP Josip Borić to cite affairs and political decisions securing jobs for party adherents during the term of the previous, SDP-led government.