Investigation, New Strategic Partner Discussed in Uljanik Crisis

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, September 2, 2018 – The leader of the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) Boris Miletić has said in an interview with Hina that neither Istria County authorities nor the Pula town government would ever change the town’s spatial plan in the area where the Uljanik shipyard is located in such a way to cause harm to the shipyard or its workers and called on prosecutorial authorities and the USKOK anti-corruption agency to investigate Uljanik’s operations and see if there had been any irregularities.

Last Friday, workers of the Uljanik Group, which includes the Pula-based Uljanik and Rijeka’s 3. Maj shipyard, ended their ten-day strike over unpaid wages after the government provided guarantees to the Croatian Postal Bank (HPB) for changing insurance instruments for HPB’s loans to the Uljanik shipyard from 2015 and 2016, whereby the shipbuilding group obtained the funds to pay out wages to its workers.

The Uljanik Group is awaiting a decision of the European Commission on its restructuring plan.

In the interview, Miletić accused the government of lacking any vision of the country’s development, including the development of individual strategic sectors. The IDS leader noted that the region of Istria regularly contributed to the state budget and therefore deserved the central government’s assistance in the case of Uljanik.

Commenting on Finance Minister Zdravko Marić’s statement that due to loss-making companies such as Uljanik there was less and less room for reducing the tax burden on citizens, Miletić said that over the past ten years Uljanik had paid more than three billion kuna of various taxes and contributions.

He called on state institutions to go through Uljanik’s operations and said that his party would support the Social Democratic Party’s (SDP) request to form a parliamentary commission of inquiry for the shipyard.

Asked about media reports that the government was looking for a strategic partner for Uljanik other than Kermas Energija, which has been chosen by the Uljanik management, Miletić said that any strategic partner willing to preserve shipbuilding and as many jobs as possible would be welcomed by both the regional and local authorities. “Given recent speculations regarding the shipyard’s spatial plan, I want to underline that neither Istria County nor the Town of Pula would ever change the shipyard’s spatial plan in any way that could harm the company or its workers,” said Miletić.

Businessman Danko Končar, whose Kermas Energija company has been chosen by the Uljanik Group to be its strategic partner, commented, in a separate interview with Hina, on media reports that the government was looking for a new partner for the group.

He said that, if Uljanik changed its mind and wanted another strategic partner, he would withdraw and would set no conditions except for the repayment of a 12.6 million euro loan his company had given Uljanik.

Asked about his relationship with Ivan Jakovčić, former IDS leader and member of the European Parliament, whose ties with Končar were the reason why earlier this week the Pametno party broke off its informal coalition with the IDS and GLAS, after which Jakovčić said that he would not run in next year’s elections for the European Parliament, Končar said that Jakovčić was hired to sit on the supervisory board of the Finnish-based Afarak Group, in which his Kermas Energija holds a 29% stake, in May 2015, when Jakovčić was no longer the leader of the IDS, but a member of the European Parliament.

He was hired on the model of many European companies which hire members of the European Parliament to sit on their supervisory boards for lobbying purposes, said Končar, adding that Jakovčić had contributed significantly to Afarak Group, which produces ferrochrome, in terms of lobbying with regard to EU legislation on mining and metallurgy.


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