Has the government forgotten about one of Croatia’s largest companies?
Economy Minister Tomislav Panenić has not met with the members of the INA Managing Board during the new government’s first 50 days in power, nor has he asked for a meeting with the company’s officials, the Ministry confirmed in an unofficial statement, reports Večernji List on March 11, 2016.
Although INA is one of the most important companies in Croatia and participates in the country’s GDP with almost 7 percent, the new economy minister is waiting for the government’s position about the plans for INA to be formed before he initiates a meeting with company’s leadership. When and how the new INA leaders from the Croatian side will be chosen is not known as of yet, but the Ministry keeps saying that it is the government which should make that decision.
The idea coming from MOST is that the managements of companies such as HEP and Plinacro should be chosen at public competitions, but this is probably not something applicable in INA’s case. Time is running out because the current management board’s term expires in two weeks. The Ministry, which is under MOST’s leadership, does not intend to sell the remaining part of INA, but it also does not see the need for speeding up the negotiations about the relations between the Hungarian company MOL, which owns a large part of the company, and the state. They say we should wait for the outcome of international arbitration proceedings, which is expected towards the end of the year.
Meanwhile, after recording losses, INA’s officials are now announcing more spending cuts, which means less investments. The management is asking the government to abolish the additional refinery tax and then green-light the investments in the Rijeka refinery, which would bring an end to business operations in Sisak. INA has already started preparing for this outcome. It recently filled two railcars with crude oil from Graberje Ivaničko to test the railroad transport option for Rijeka.
Until the government comes up with its own opinion, the management of the largest state companies can operate as they see fit, while major investments have mostly been put on hold. Exploration of oil and gas in the Adriatic, if you ask MOST, has ended for good, and whether the research activities will be continued on the mainland will be decided after the tender launched by former minister Ivan Vrdoljak is concluded.