CROATIA: The European Commission confirmed the Governement’s National Reform Programme positively

Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic said on Wednesday the European Commission had confirmed the government’s good work in its assessment of the National Reform Programme, and underlined that the reforms would be carried out.

“Today is a very good day. The European Commission has issued its opinion on our National Reform Programme and today we received confirmation of our good work. We will implement the reforms that we have presented to the Croatian public and the European Commission,” he told the press, adding that it could already be seen that the government had started reducing the public debt.

“Things are going well despite the many sceptics,” he said.

The Commission today published five economic recommendations for Croatia, saying the country’s reform programme was broadly ambitious and if it managed to achieve a durable correction of the excessive deficit this year, it might move from the corrective to the preventive arm of the Stability and Growth Pact next year.

The Commission calls on Croatia to ensure a durable correction of the excessive deficit, to take measures by the end of 2016 to discourage early retirement, to improve public administration efficiency, to significantly reduce parafiscal charges, and to improve the efficiency of the judicial system in commercial and administrative courts.

Oreskovic said all the recommendations were already incorporated in the reform programme, that work on them was under way and that now they must be stepped up.

He said the reform plan was recently endorsed by the International Monetary Fund too, voicing confidence that all these positive comments would influence investors and rating agencies. “I’m confident that this reform package will yield results and that all Croatian citizens will live better. It’s up to this government to get things going so that our young people don’t leave and so that our children have a better future than it is today.”

He asked for a little more time because “the plan is 20 percent and its implementation 80%… The key word is results. I expect of my team and they of their teams that we focus on results and I’m confident that then we will all see positive steps forward.”

Asked how Croatia managed to avoid corrective measures, Oreskovic said the Commission had evidently seen the numbers in the reform programme, a projected GDP growth of 2%, a deficit accounting for less than 3% of GDP, and especially public debt reduction.

Finance Minister Zdravko Maric commented on the Commission’s demands for additional fiscal consolidation in 2017 too, multiannual budget planning and public debt management. He said the projections which Croatia recently sent to Brussels had obviously been received well.

He also commented on last week’s statement by European Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union Jonathan Hill that Croatia might be punished over a law on the conversion of Swiss franc loans.

The conversion has been carried out in full and the relevant legislation will not be changed, Maric said. The Commission has indicated that the elements which are not in line with Croatia’s EU accession treaty must be corrected and Commissioner Hill too expects the Croatian authorities to find a solution through talks with the parties involved, notably banks, he added.

He reiterated that despite speculation in public, the government had no knowledge of proceedings launched by banks at international courts because of the conversion (HINA)

HNA/HIA
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