What are the “Blocked”?
1. Who is “blocked” in Croatia?
Croatia facing a huge debt crisis
The Croatia debt crisis is a financial crisis that originated in the early 2010 (and for some starting in the 1998 ), often known as the “lost decade”, when Croatia reached a point where for most of the Croatian citizens their debt exceeded their earning power and they were not able to repay it.
Blocking the bank accounts and legalizing state usury and shark-loaning system Croatian Government created a new form of humanitarian crisis that 5 years later ( 2010.- 2015.) cannot be solved without deep reformist strategies.
The results speak for itself.
Every fourth working Croatian is blocked ! Unable to pay their debts.
Most of them ( 300 000 people plus their families) have been blocked
for a long period of 5 years up to now.
Citizens debt (refers to the amount of total debt Croatian inhabitants have) is much higher today then total Croatian economy debt ( economy sector debt )
and still raising as Croatia by blocking the massive number of bank accounts without a Court hearing legalized state usury.
Croatian Government decided to block all their bank accounts !
Taking all the money off !
Using a government Agency to block all your bank account and taking all the money off
without considering if this will cause you hardship
They don’t need to go to court to get a deduction order !
The order will leave you with no money at all and this causes you hardship, you ill not be able to apply to court for help.
The debt order will be made final without giving you a chance you can show there are good reasons for it not to be made as you are unemployed, old, very sick, you dont have any income
Mostly the debt was for a small amount, and the sum owed was too small to justify it
As the debt could be paid off quickly by installments.
But Croatian government didn’t think so
It’s an legalized usury and shark-loaning system
Your bank accounts will be blocked forever as most of the 320 000 citizens don’t have the money to repay their debts
This means 320 000 people in Croatia and members of their families ( 1 million of people) once their bank accounts are blocked can’t pay other essential bills, other debts, or even manage day to day living expenses
Every fourth working age resident Croatian! Every tenth Croatian citizen is blocked by the Execution Act (Act on foreclosures) which, instead of finding a way of returning the debt, produced an absolute, infinite growth of the total amount of the debt and thus blocked the whole of Croatia.
For today Croatia has 320,000 ( Nov.2014.) blocked people, every tenth, and the total amount of debt of individuals is 29.5 billions, which threatens to outgrow the total amount of debt of the Croatian economy and trigger off financial collapse.
From December, 2010. to 2014. in Croatia, based on the amendments to the Execution Act, about a million of Croatian citizens are BLOCKED (320,000 plus members of their family)
THE new FACT from 12/2014. the total amount of people debt have trespassed the total amount of Croatian economy! 12.2014. 322 500 blocked and 30 millions of kuna
BLOCKADE means that all their accounts in all banks are blocked.
For the above mentioned period (2010.-2014.), this represents an increase of approximately 65 000 people per year. Approximately 5500 per month! The amount of debt increases by about a billion in a month and a half!
From the “only” 25,000 Croatian citizens blocked in December 2010. pursuant to the Execution Act, on different grounds, the terrible number of such human fates jumped in just a year or two at a figure of over 300,000 blocked.
There is no modern, democratic state that has such, shameful, attitude towards its citizens because there is no modern state, in the EU and the world, that in this way blocked this many people.
The total amount of debt of the blocked is growing rapidly and will soon surpass the total debt of Croatian economy, which is an absurd unprecedented in the history of modern, democratic state.
The amount of debt (artificially extorted from the blocked debtor) increases by about a billion kuna per month !!! This may be by the law, given that the government has legalized such an approach to solving the problem, but it is certainly not wise for the financial sovereignty of the individual, and also the whole community.
The association Blocked was founded when the number of blocked reached 318,000 souls, which if we add dependents gives an awesome collection of one million inhabitants of Croatia to whom the authorities intended the fate of living in extreme poverty, with regard to the legalized (state) usury, leaving debts to the heirs-forever!
Data from 04/2014. = 315 000 citizens (04/2014.)
total debt reached 24.5 billion kn (04/2014).
Data for 09/2014 = 318 529 citizens, and the total amount of debt = 28.5 billion
Data for 12/2014. =322 500 citizens, and the total amount of debt is over 30,6 billion
These are ordinary people from the neighborhood, indebted as they have no money, no job, no way to get out of debt, and law enforcement basically does not have the same attitude towards debtors and creditors, nor the basic aim to offer a solution.
Even 70 percent of citizens who have blocked accounts are not liable to insurance, which means they are neither employed nor receiving a pension, this shown by the first unofficial checks which are made with the help of the personal identification numbers (OIB, PIN).
This means that about 220,000 citizens who have their accounts blocked are unemployed, while the remaining more than 90,000 have some form of insurance, they are either employed, or have a craft, or insurance as farmers, but they belong to a group that does not have the right to a protected account if they are blocked.
The fact that 70 percent of blocked people are out of work suggests that they will have difficulties or will hardly ever pay their debts for which their accounts are blocked.
The accounts of about 10,000 people who have died are also blocked, among them even 7,700 men. Their debt will become the successors liability, if they accept all the assets left behind by the deceased.
The preliminary checks of Croatian debtors has also showed that more than 17,000 people who are older than 65 years are blocked, with almost no chance for them to reactivate at some job and that way earn extra money that would take them out of the blockade.
Most blocked citizens still remains far from the criteria for retirement, as many as 239,000 are between 18 and 55 years of age. Among them probably “hides” the largest number of those 220,000 people who have been blocked and are not liable to any insurance or are unemployed. More than 47,000 citizens who have blockages are aged between 55 and 65 years.
Nearly twice as many frozen accounts belong to man. Every forth working active person is blocked (that data does not mean they are employed)
More than 194,000 of them are in the blockade, while 109,000 women have their accounts blocked because of the debt they can not manage to pay off. Among men, the largest number of debtors are aged between 18 and 55 years, even 152,000, and they make half of the total number of all debtors in Croatia. In the same age group are also the most numerous women debtors, even 86,000 of them.
The basic objective of the Act on foreclosures is visible through the results of law enforcement, through years the dept is multiplied to absurdity. The number of debtors, rather than to be reduced, is growing up to 70,000 new debtors per year, 5000 new debtors per month and the debt of private individuals will soon overtake the total debt of Croatian economy.
If Fina continues to spin blockades with the current pace, by the end of the year the citizens would be able to outmarch the iliquidity of the national economy, which European history does not remember, nor such an institutional policy allowing that within three years the number of debtors grows from 25,000 to 315,000, that the whole social group of debtors is admonished as idlers that are institutionally put on the pillory and left there to quietly disappear.
The Association Blocked points out that the blockades of accounts spread like an epidemic, and warns that in the last three years the number of people blocked (blocking means that your accounts are blocked in all banks, usually for a period longer than 5 years, respectively 10) has jumped from 25 000 to 310 000, which is a direct consequence of the target specified by the Act on foreclosures. Actually, it is a legalized loansharking and insuring profit for a narrow interest group at the expense of the majority.
The Act on foreclosures is one of the bad Croatian laws (adopted in late 2010), in which the goal was to satisfy the immediate material interest of a narrow group without paying attention to the wider social consequences of layering the healthy core.
Also in the last six years citizens lost their 9500 flats and houses that have been sold at auctions for a price lower than the third of the market value, and most are therefore left without their only shelter which, judging by the results, the Croatian politics is not concerned of.
Specifically, with an alarming number of 310,000 blocked, there should be added the number of family members blocked, 310 000 x 3; 380,000 unemployed, 280,000 under enforcement for debts to the government, 180,000 jobs disappeared forever in Croatia, 30,000 destroyed crafts, destroyed small agriculture, commerce, fisheries, etc …
The president of the association Blocked points the finger to the Act on foreclosures which, she says, is bad and for which Blocked sought a review of constitutionality (May, 2014) in order to fulfill the form on the way to the ultimate goal, namely the European Court of Justice and the subversion of the Act itself, because the European Court of Justice, as reported, last year overthrew the Spanish enforcement law that was somewhat similar to the Croatian one, but much milder because, we repeat, the blockade of all accounts for a period of ten years or even longer, with an absolute increase in interest and tamping debtors on the pillory, does not exist anywhere worldwide.
2. Why Association Blocked was founded ?
The main reason is because there is no political nor civil option which in Croatia deals with solutions to the problem of blocked citizens, who live in a blockade of all bank accounts for more than two years, and in 99% of the cases it is a debt of a debtor who is required because he lost his job and did not pay because there was nothing out of which to pay, cries out for a solution which does not exist because the solution disappeared under an avalanche of interests and costs which have much outgrown the principal debt.
Blocked is an association with the most “natural” growth of the number of members (unfortunately) and, as such, today it presents an important social factor for some future changes in Croatia.
Only the civilian sector cares about over-indebted citizens now, namely the association Blocked. So again, only the civil society – as in the case of loans in Swiss francs – systematically takes account of citizens who found themselves in an all croatian spiral of evils and troubles. A necessity of the existence of such an association is best illustrated by the fact that currently in Croatia about 318,000 citizens have blocked accounts, and they owe a staggering and hard to be collected 28.5 billion, as a result of the controversial Law Enforcement.
In the association we KNOW and continually emphasize the fact that in contemporary Europe there is no country with such a high number of blocked citizens. Miriam Kervatin, president of Blokirani, warns: “If Fina (Croatian Financial agency) continues to block the bills at this rate, by mid-year iliquidity of the citizens could overtake the insolvency of the entire Croatian economy.”
– Blocked is an association of citizens with blocked incomes, pensions or bank accounts. They all live in conditions of poverty, social inequality and exclusion, and we want to stop that. Social exclusion covers – similar to unfulfilled human rights – the inability of one of us to act in a society with a sense of personal dignity. Generally speaking, individuals can be considered socially excluded if they are at a disadvantage in economic or social terms, if they feel powerless or, to some extent, socially alienated, which all stems from a combination of interrelated problems. These are blocked incomes or pensions, poverty, social inequality, unemployment, low wages, poor housing conditions, says Miriam Kervatin which points out that 290,000 citizens are blocked long, longer than five years.
The Association Blocked was established for promotion, improvement and realization of the rights of citizens which have blocked incomes, pensions, property, bank accounts and therefore they live in conditions of poverty, social inequality, and given the account blocking, enforcement and eviction, they have poor housing conditions or lack housing conditions.
Social exclusion includes, similarly to unfulfilled human rights, the inability of the individual to act in a society with a sense of personal dignity.
The Association operates in accordance with the regulations of the Croatian Republic and the acquis of the EU.
3. The basic objectives of the Association Blocked
1. To subvert the Act on enforcement, because it is contrary to the Constitution of Croatian Republic and opposite to legal practice of contemporary European democracy.
2. To protect the dignity of the debtor
3. To stop the growth in absolute poverty
4. To gather like-minded people
322 500 Blocked and raising! The total amount of debt higher then 30 mil kuna
The total debt of People is now higher then the total economy debt! Never happened before in the World that people were more in debt then a country economy!
Bad political PR as it is not true at all that debt is been cancelled- Blocked!
New York Times
The Association of the Blocked,” an advocacy group that aims to help the 322,000 people with blocked accounts and is pressing for a change in debt laws.
Currently, creditors can block individuals and business owners from accessing bank accounts and earnings, taking funds until debts are repaid.
Miriam Kervatin, president of the association, said this leaves welfare recipients and the unemployed in a spiral of debt that is nearly impossible to escape.
CNN – Imagine meeting a fairy godmother that made all your debt disappear. (Bippity boppity boop!)
First of all, could you tell us more about how was the association of the Blocked (“Blokirani”) formed, what does it deal with, etc.?
We organized ourselves when we came upon the conclusion that the Law on Foreclosures is an act, wanted in part by the political and judicial elites and real estate, whose endgame is to “erase” millions of people in Croatia in a legal manner – take all of their assets, evict them from their only residence, leave them without an adress, property – to put in simpler words, it means leaving them without any hopes for the future.
Today, four years later, the pattern of extortion is visible to all those who want to see.
In December 2010 when the Law on Foreclosures was modified, which enables the blockade of a citizen’s private accounts in every bank by simply pressing one button, the big majority of us couldn’t begin to understand what was the goal of these innovations. Unlike us, the ones who ordered and sustained them knew it very well, and I talk about sources close to politicians, lawyers, notaries and judges. They immediately got a hold of the first results of that law. But so did the people who are now in power, shown by the fact that the government wasn’t surprised when informed that the debt of the citizens (30 billion kuna) has gone over the debt of the economy (29 billion kuna).
That fact is disastrous, never seen before in the financial practice of the EU, never read or heard about, that a government let the debt of citizens go over the one of economy!
In short, the moment I compared the Croat Law on Foreclosures with other similar decreets around Europe, in February of last year I decided to found the Association of the Blocked.
Among first things, we requested that the Constitutional Court evaluates the constitutionality of the law in question and up until this day we never received a response. None, even if it is obliged to react by official duty.
Let’s take a look at the Association…
Blokirani is an association with the most number of “natural”members and as that it represents an important factor of future changes in Croatia. Among it’s member we count citizens with blocked accounts, all of them living in absolute poverty and at the margins of society. We are their voice, we want to put an end to this unbearable situation. Social exclusion leads to the impossibility of fulfilling human rights, leads the individual to the inability to act in the whole of society and denies them the possibility to realize their sense of personal dignity.
Our basic goal is to modify the actual Law on Foreclosures, bring this on the same track with other similar laws in EU. We ask that citizens be given a chance. We are of the opinion that each person that has a debt should return it in full, we respect the rule of law, we believe that there should be a market economy in Croatia, we don’t have anything against financial institutions like banks, we fight for an equal justice for everyone, for social equality, for the defense of dignity of each individual, for a country that is based on respecting it’s own constitution, for a government that recognizes EU directives, the Declaration of Human Rights, for a State that knows who knows what is the tripartite division of responsibility when it comes to over-indebtedness of the population.
It’s impossible to live in a society where a citizen gets shamed for a handful of kuna, while his fellow citizen, thanks to the Law on the agreement pre-bankruptcy and his friendships with the powerful, gets million kuna of debt erased. It’s unacceptable that single mothers, terminal patients, have the only roof over their heads taken away, it’s a shame that the State activates to expropriate their only home.
Let me give an example. A young woman whose father deceased in 2008, found out a couple of days ago that her bills got blocked because, under the law of succession, she received her father’s phone bill from 2005. The debt that had amounted to 2500 kuna but now rose to 32 thousand! She found herself among the “blocked” without having ever received a foreclosure notice and without having ever seen the bill. Is this one safe country in which to live?
How many people there are today with blocked accounts?
We’re talking about 321.000 people, with an added the family component, amounts to a million of individuals. All of this and more, is part of a plan of deliberate government strategies that led to 321.000 people in Croatia to stay without whole properties, assets that will later be re-assigned to a small number of people. We are convinced that the actual Law on Foreclosures is unconstitutional and not in accordance to European legislation.
Four years ago when the cited decree was modified, the citizens with blocked accounts amounted to 25 thousand. Right after the modifications entered into force, the number rose to 146 thousand, then to 321 thousand in December of 2014. Therefore, every fourth person with predispositions to work is blocked, while, as we already said, their debt superated the one of the economy, not because of the principal amount, but because of the interests that get calculated in a non-transparent manner and that in determined cases get the interest to reach the 28%. The Godfather (reference to the movie The Godfather) would be envious of these accounts.
That way, Croatia has destroyed the foundation of the national economy, the GDP continues to fall for the 12th consecutive trimester. If a country is populated by citizens with a debt larger than the economy, that means that few make purchases, few of them spend, and if no one spends it is no coincidence that the GDP continues to fall and that the recession proceeds.
Let’s get right to the heart of the interview. As we established, thousands and thousands are the accounts blocked, the franc has skyrocketed, disccupation grows day by day, the government struggles to give life to concrete measures. For our readers across the border and others, can you explain what is happening in Croatia?
In the recent years in Croatia 180 thousand workplaces have been were erased, and it’s unlikely they will be available again. The production is basically non-existant, they closed over 50 thousand artesanal stores, the GDP is in steady decline, disoccupation is over the 300 thousand units, while 321 thousands of citizens have their accounts blocked. The majority of persons struggles to reach the end of the month, while the minority, politicians included, live very well. Walking on the street we see the “gold buyers” at every corner, people sell their valuable assets that in addition to material value also have priceless sentimental value. The grannies that sell fruits and vegetables at the marketplace get picked up by police officers because of a handful of kunas and taken to the nearest police station.
There is great repression towards citizens that are considered “small, unimportant”. I traveled a lot around Italy, I have Italian citizenship and I’ve never heard that someone gets their activity closed for a few cents of debt as it happens in Croatia, where we have examples of inspectors that close businesses for two kunas that were extra. Our taxes are the highest in Europe, the VAT is 25%, we have approximately 600 tax deductions, and those have killed the small and medium enterprises. The elites live well, they spend what they haven’t earned and leave the rest of the population empty-handed. Needless to even remember the countless young people that left the country. This is the reality of the situation, whether you like it or not. No wonder that people take it to the streets.
What could the State, the government in particular, do to encounter the needs of the “blocked”?
Who’s in power has to change the way of operating, as first thing they should try to maintain the promises made during the electoral campaign, start to work seriously, restart the economy and diminish unemployment. For a change, the government could start to respect it’s citizens and to respect the Constitution.
I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but the Executive guided by Zoran Milanovic, is the first government in Europe that stayed in power after the fall of the GDP for 12 consecutive trimesters and it’s the first government in the history of Croatia for number of laws rejected. We are living in a country where who is in power, through an ad hoc law, canceled the debt to thier friends, the tycoons, to friends of friends.
We are talking about the Act on pre-bankruptcy agreements that let rich people to stay rich or to get even richer, and for “regular” people to find themselves on the street. Us, like citizens of our Croatia, should at least commit for another 175 years to reach the level of the most evolved democracies, when we talk about rights and duties of the citizens. Here many things are still either black or white, or you’re with us or you’re against us, the collective interest is an unknown concept, the laws are never done in public but in private, under the table, who holds power exerts it for the good of the few taking advantage of the good will of the majority. We are fighting for the tripartite responsibility, we want to give back the debt, we want to pay the bills, but that can’t be done if all the accounts are blocked and the debt keeps growing. This is where the government needs to intervene.
We want that people don’t get shamed just for being poor or having debts. We don’t tolerate that their only residence gets taken awat, that a family gets to be evicted. We are asking the government to pay the consequences of this obscene law. We’ll fight until the debtors, that because of various reasons found themselves in that situation, has the possibility to turn to someone and say:”Here I am, I have problems, how can we solve them?” .
We are asking that in Croatia, like in the other advanced states, the debtor,the creditor that permitted him to in-debt himself and the State that wrote the rules get all treated in the same way and that the dignity of the persons involved gets protected. The structural reforms are needed for that precise reason – we want to live, we want to have a job, pay our bills, be calm.
How do you comment the government’s decision to cancels debt to all people that have an up to 35 thousand kuna debt?
The agreement of cancellation is nothing, and if it is nothing is it unconstitutional? The Agreement can be considered as PR or an idea of social help that doesn’t solve the problem . Let’s paint a picture of the situation. The measure cancels the debt of the most disadvantaged. May or not. it is not agreed.
The social cases are those who receive 100 EUR per month and that sum can’t be foreclosed. Now they condone a sum that could in no way be foreclosed. It’s clear that it’s not possible to live with 100 EUR per month and now the government, through skillfull marketing games (it’s the electoral year), passes the idea that they’re the good fairy that helps the needy. From my point of view, it only helped the industrials to cancel their debts.
The fact that the collective debt of the “blocked” has exceeded the debt of the economy rings an alarm bell even for those who don’t know much about economy. What’s the real risk that the State is facing?
Croatia, because of this fact, will be financially destroyed in the long run, and maybe even forever. We keep repeating for eight months now that because of the tributes made by the State to the citizens, their debt will exceed the one of the economy. But we weren’t the only ones, lots of economists denounced the same thing. The surprising thing is that the government keeps pretending that nothing is happening. The people are more indebted than the economy. Any person with some dignity would have given their dimissions and pretended that the government did the same. But not Milanovic.
In the last few days there has been talks of protests on the streets. You and the association Franak have both declared that you are ready. Street protests are rare in Croatia, but this time it seems like the moment is right. In your opinion, have we reached the point of no return?
The problem of the Swiss Franc is temporarily solved. I believe that the threat of dstreet protests pushed the politics to act, even if they haven’t really solved the issue, just postponed it. We, as an association, are treating joined actions with other groups. We signed an agreement on the 26th of January with the representatives of Family run Agricultural Enterprises (OPG) – that in recent times found themselves with thousands of blocked accounts – with whom we’ll get out in the streets. We’re also talking with other interlocutors, we’ll see how the situation evolves and then we’ll make a decision.
Many think that the citizens with blocked accounts live in the most impoverished regions of the country. How is the situation in the regions considered as wealthiest, like Istria or the coastal region?
Istria is at the top of the list when it comes to foreclosures, especially regarding real estate. More specifically, Istria has large number of confiscations mainly from the Austrian cooperatives (Raiffeisen Group) that never obtained permission for their credit operations neither from Austria, neither from Croatia. There could be a suspicion that there are rounds of recycling. Some managers of these cooperatives are currently under house arrest in Austria for pending processes for tax fraud, recycling, etc. while in Croatia the foreclosures on behalf of these gentlemen continue, people who for years have granted mortgages, loans, all lacking transparency. Some have even been condemned but continue ordering confiscations from prison. I must tell you about the case of a woman from Pula that moved to Canada. The lady never received any certificate of foreclosure nor any document that certified a proceeding against her. She found out about it only when her apartment got purchased by another person during a public auction. The Constitutional Court has intervened by taking up the case. It reminds me of the confiscations of years and years ago, when ex-Yugoslavia confiscated properties without warning the owners, it was just enough to put a piece of paper somewhere in a public space and the expropriation became legal.
If I’m not mistaken the association headed by you counts 23 thousands subscribers and the interest of the citizens for “Blokirani” is growing by each day. Is there any possibility that sometime in the future you turn in a political party and personally try to solve the issues that undermine thousands of citizens?
We are the spokespersons of interests of 322 thousand of people. When the Law on Foreclosures gets replaced by a better one, our activity will cease. I sincerely hope that it happens as soon as possible. Today
I am of the opinion that it’s unlikely that we will act in politics. It’s difficult but not impossible, even if the founders of the association, myself included, don’t have political ambitions. I believe that the current Croat politics aren’t a place where a normal person would want to find them-self in. We are a country that will shortly have more obedient members of political parties than entrepreneurs and workers
What advice would you want to give to a citizen with blocked accounts?
If the law doesn’t change, us “blocked” will be the people that walk along the highway in the night and each minute a car passes and …
Miriam Kervatin ( q. by Marin Rogić, EDIT.hr- 12/2014.)
Italian version – http://www.blokirani.hr/che-cosa-sono-i-bloccati-croatia-2010-2014/