Ivan Paladina is the second minister to leave the position as the head of the Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets after the 2020 quakes, after sharp criticism of the slow and inefficient post-quake reconstruction in the central Banovina region and Zagreb.
He will be replaced by Branko Bacic, chairman of the parliamentary group of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party.
Paladina took over the ministerial position responsible for post-earthquake reconstruction in March 2022 from Darko Horvat, who was arrested on 19 February 2022 on suspicion of illegally awarding grants to small entrepreneurs and dismissed at his personal request.
During his confirmation in the parliament, Paladina said that he could not refuse the Prime Minister’s invitation to take over the ministerial job because he saw it as an invitation to rebuild the homes of his fellow citizens who were affected by the earthquakes.
“We have little time, but a lot of work to do. I accepted the invitation because it is an invitation to rebuild the homes of our fellow citizens,” Paladina said then. Before a vote of confidence, the opposition repeated criticisms of the government, the slow reconstruction and Paladina himself, especially due to his connections with Russia.
Speculation about Paladina’s departure began at the end of last year after Plenkovic said that reconstruction “is incredibly slow.”
Paladina then said that he did not think the Prime Minister’s criticism was directed at him. However, he added, if it did refer to him, he did not have to be a minister.
“Only when we start building 100 houses a month can we be satisfied. I’ve been saying this for more than three or four months. The Prime Minister’s statement refers to that part of reconstruction that has to be stepped up,” he said at the time.
Seven ministers leave Plenkovic government in its second term
Paladina is the sixth minister to be replaced during Prime Minister Plenkovic’s second term in government, after the departure of Darko Horvat, Boris Milosevic, Josip Aladrovic, Tomislav Coric and Zdravko Maric, and Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds Natasa Tramisak, who was also replaced today, is the seventh to leave.
After Horvat’s replacement in February last year, Plenkovic recommended that Anja Simpraga replace Boris Milosevic as Deputy Prime Minister, and that Davor Filipovic and Marin Piletic replace Josip Aladrovic and Tomislav Coric as Minister of Labour and Economy respectively.
Milosevic and Aladrovic left the government due to suspicions raised by the USKOK anti-corruption office, which later indicted them. Darko Horvat and Tomislav Tolusic were also indicted at the time.
After leaving the government, Coric continued his career as the Vice Governor of the Croatian Central Bank.
Last summer, after six and a half years, Zdravko Maric, former deputy prime minister and finance minister, left the government at his own initiative, saying that he no longer saw himself in politics, and embarked on another career.
Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds Natasa Tramisak is also leaving the government along with Paladina. She will be replaced by her state secretary Sime Erlic.