Split Mayor: Inspectorate’s fine is a ‘form of political intimidation’

NEWS 21.03.202317:13

Split Mayor Ivica Puljak on Tuesday called on the State Inspectorate to urgently cancel a fine of around €13,272 (100,000 kuna) imposed on him over a project to renovate the sewage system of the Villa Dalmatia in Split, describing the fine as a form of political intimidation.

“The decision by the State Inspectorate to fine me 100,000 kuna is an attempt to exert pressure on us and eliminate us from Croatia’s political life, but they will not succeed, we are not afraid of anyone,” Puljak said at a news conference.

The mayor said that the State Inspectorate was headed by a member of the HDZ party who, he said, “would be nothing without the HDZ,” a reference to Chief State Inspector Andrija Mikulic.

Puljak noted that building inspectors had visited the site in question in February this year, making a record that no work was being carried out at the site.

A day later, City Administration officials paid a visit to the building inspectorate and it was “stated clearly at the time that work to restore the site to its original state had been completed back in March 2022.”

“After all of this, the building inspectorate, that is, the State Inspectorate, decides to fine not the City of Split, but me personally 100,000 kuna, noting in its decision that the purpose of the fine is to prevent the continuation of work even though the inspector in charge, too, said the work was not being carried out and that she had information it had been suspended a year ago,” said Puljak.

Puljak also noted that during the transfer of power on 15 July 2022, a record signed by the government commissioner for Split and himself stated that the property in question had been restored to its original state due to suspension of work by a building inspection team.

The Split mayor reiterated that the decision on the project to renovate the sewage system of the Villa Dalmatia and the documents and decision of the Split City Council on the financing of the project were adopted during the term of the HDZ-led city administration and then Mayor Andro Krstulovic-Opara.

State Inspectorate: Work on project was done during Puljak’s term

In response to Puljak’s statements, the State Inspectorate said on Tuesday that work on the Villa Dalmatia project, for which the city did not have all the necessary documents, was carried out during Puljak’s term.

After Puljak said in a Facebook post on Monday that Split was fined €13,272 due to irregularities in the documentation for the project, he told today’s news conference that the contract with the company that carried out work on the project was signed in May 2021, before local elections, and that the State Inspectorate fined him for something that was done at the time he was not in power.

The State Inspectorate said that work on the project was suspended because it did not include a decision approving it.

All the developments happened during Ivica Puljak’s term – the city reported the start of work on 21 October 2021, a complaint indicating possible irregularities was received on 31 January 2022, an inspection was carried out on 10 February 2022, while on 6 April 2022 a decision was made to suspend the work, said the State Inspectorate.

The fine was issued because on 14 February 2023, after the closure of the construction site, it was determined that work on the project had continued without the necessary decision, the State Inspectorate said, calling out Puljak “for attempting to compromise the work of building inspectors and discredit the State Inspectorate without presenting all relevant data and facts.”