ZAGREB, January 30, 2019 – Energy and Environment Protection Minister Tomislav Ćorić said on Wednesday that a bill of amendments to the law on the privatisation of the INA oil company, which the government recently sent to parliament, safeguarded Croatia’s interests to the maximum amount.
On 23 January, the government tabled the bill which aligns the INA law with European Union legislation and protects Croatia’s energy interests as well as the state’s interests in INA, as stated by the government on that occasion.
However, the opposition has criticised the Andrej Plenković cabinet about the detrimental effects of the latest proposal, and in his response to the press Minister Ćorić today dismissed the criticism.
Ćorić said that during a parliamentary debate on the proposed bill, he would explain how the bill protected Croatian state interests.
As for a report by the weekly newspaper Nacional that the Office of for the Suppression of Organised Crime and Corruption was analysing some segments of the bill, the minister said on Tuesday that the ministry was open to all who wanted to get information about the bill, and that he had not heard before that USKOK was interested in the matter.
Today, Ćorić told the press that it was in the government’s interest to have a strong and efficient INA, and that by entering the EU Croatia took over certain responsibilities, one of them being the adjustment of the domestic legislation with the EU acquis.
The INA Privatisation Act went into force in April 2002, stipulating that the state retained certain special rights in the company – the exclusive right to control changes in ownership, the right to veto certain management decisions, and the right to pre-emption of all or part of the company’s property at market value in case of liquidation. Since those provisions are not in line with the EU acquis, the European Commission launched an EU law violation procedure and decided to file a suit at the EU Court of Justice in July 2017.
That’s why the Environment Protection and Energy Ministry proposed amendments to the INA Privatisation Act, stipulating the obligation of a stock buyer to submit a long-term management and business plan, withdrawing the government’s consent for stock acquisition and the right to buy shares and pay compensation in the event of a serious threat to safe, reliable and regular energy supply and to the protection of the energy supply infrastructure.
The amendments also propose that, as long as the state has one or more shares in INA, the government can appoint two representatives who will attend management meetings without the right to vote. Also proposed are penalties and protection in case management adopts a decision seriously bringing into question the safety of energy supply and its infrastructure.
As for the opposition’s criticism about the previous procedure of INA’s privatisation, Ćorić said today that one of the lawmakers “has clearly stated that HDZ-led (Croatian Democratic Union) governments have not sold any share of INA to Hungary’s MOL.” He recalled that under the 2002 law on privatisation, the first package of 25% of the stock was sold to MOL in 2003. At the time, the SDP-led government was in power.
More news on the INA-MOL situation can be found in the Business section.