January 4, 2021 – An Index.hr investigation has revealed that Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic took HRK 3.35 Million from schools and gave it to the Snow Queen skiing competition instead.
The earthquake in March severely damaged several schools and kindergartens in Zagreb, and the coronavirus pandemic revealed that some schools did not have hot water or soap to wash students’ hands and maintain basic hygiene. When distance learning began, we learned that the system did not work and that teachers did not have the equipment to provide quality teaching.
Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic ignored all these problems or even mocked them, saying that students could wash their hands with ashes, just like he did as a child.
Index.hr. has now learned that Bandic took HRK 3.35 million from the Education Office in one of the last decisions in 2020. Namely, on November 30, 2020, Bandic issued a Conclusion on the redistribution of funds planned in the City of Zagreb Budget for 2020 and transferred money from the Education Office to the Sports Office.
“Funds of HRK 3,350,000.00 are transferred from the City Education Office to the City Sports and Youth Office for the activity of a Great Sports Event, to provide the necessary funds for the international sports event, the Snow Queen and the Snow King Ski Cup 2021,” reads Bandic’s explanation.
In the second part of the explanation, the Snow Queen is praised as a manifestation that contributed to skiing interest. On the other hand, in the Official Gazette, there are only 273 registered skiers in the Zagreb area, who, if they want quality skiing, must train outside Croatia.
“The Snow Queen has become a trademark of the City of Zagreb and the Republic of Croatia, giving the City of Zagreb, at the time of the event, a special charm and atmosphere,” reads the explanation at a time when it was already known that the race would be held without spectators and that it would not bring anything to Zagreb except a snow trail surrounded by mud. The Bandic City Administration was also aware of that.
“Due to the possible lack of snow and high temperatures, as well as climate change, it is necessary to continue to improve the snowmaking system and infrastructure to prepare the track in time and to avoid possible race cancellations, which occurred in 2014 and 2016,” reads the explanation of the Conclusion, by which the money is taken from schools and given to the ski competition.
By the way, the total budget of this year’s competition is HRK 21 million, of which at least a third, or seven million kuna, is paid directly by the city from the budget, from taxes and surcharges collected from citizens. The remainder comes from the work of Zagreb Holding employees and the last HRK 3.35 million stolen from children, says Index.
The Zagreb Education Office does not see anything disputable because HRK 3.35 million went to the Snow Queen.
“We emphasize the fact that the redistribution of planned budget funds is common at the end of the calendar or budget year. Because funds for the reconstruction of damaged buildings are provided and paid following the phases of the work performed, the unspent funds were redistributed in the budget of the City of Zagreb for other city offices,” said Ivica Lovrić, head of the Education Office, to Index’s inquiry.
In the same response, in addition to praising themselves for everything they have done since 2016, it states that the earthquake “damaged 175 educational facilities, of which 162 have already been renovated, and the reconstruction of the remaining 13 is underway. Their restoration will be completed in the next year or two, depending on the type and extent of damage to the individual facility.”
Everything is fine, claims Lovrić; you just have to wait a year or two.
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