Minister speaks about plans for Croatian motorways.
The government will try to solve the debt problem of the Croatian Motorways (HAC) public company, which amounts to about 4.3 billion euros, by refinancing the loans and by restructuring the companies which manage the motorways. HDZ proposed such a solution while they were in opposition, while the former government tried to solve the problem first by giving motorways to concessionaires, and then by privatizing HAC ONC, a subsidiary which maintains motorways and collects the toll charges. In both cases, the intention was to use the one-off payment of the concessionaire or the money received from the IPO to cover a part of the debts, reports Vecernji List on February 16, 2016.
The new Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure Oleg Butković confirmed that has not given up on what he advocated while in opposition and has announced strong restructuring of companies which manage motorways with a goal of cutting expenditures and increasing revenues. He also announced that he would use the restructuring plan to ask the capital markets to reschedule the loans. The government has yet to define how exactly that would be implemented, but the World Bank has offered a favourable loan of 1.2 billion euros to refinance part of the debts, with a condition of strong restructuring of HAC ONC.
The restructuring could ultimately lead to the privatization of the company, but not through an IPO, as it was planned by the former government which wanted the company to take over the ownership rights over the motorways as well. That would mean that the toll revenues would go directly to HAC ONC. The new government is only considering the privatization of the company which maintains motorways and performs toll collection for HAC and ARZ motorway companies, which would then pay a service fee to HAC ONC.
The toll revenues would go to HAC and ARZ which would use them to return the loans. The strong restructuring of HAC ONC would mean that quite a few people would have to leave the company. How many depends primarily on whether vignettes will be introduced or not. If the study which is being done shows that vignettes are a good solution and that incomes would rise, then HAC ONC could lose as many as a thousand employees.
That would drastically cut down on the expenses. The company currently has about 2,800 employees, and the introduction of vignettes would primarily mean that the number of toll collectors would be reduced. The government also intends to return to HAC 20 lipa from excise duties on fuel which should mitigate some of the loses. Until 2012, HAC had received 60 lipa per a litre of fuel, but then the former government reduced it to just 20 lipa. The rest of the excise duties was divided to two other indebted public companies, Croatian Roads and Croatian Railways Infrastructure.
HAC is now in huge debts, made only worse by the reduced revenues from the excise duties. The intention of the new government is to return 20 lipa to HAC which previously went to Croatian Railways Infrastructure, while the remaining 20 lipa will stay with Croatian Roads public company, which is also heavily indebted. This would bring HAC additional 440 million kuna a year.