As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, the establishment of a new body for the management of state property, more precisely Croatian state owned companies, is currently being prepared. This is the result of the commitments that Zagreb has accepted within the process of introducing the euro as Croatia’s official currency, in order to raise the efficiency and improve the quality and operations of Croatian state owned companies.
Last week, the government appointed a steering committee to work on an Action Plan for this task, and the competent Ministry of State Property, headed by Darko Horvat, has taken its first step – launching a public debate on a preliminary assessment of the new Law on Legal Entities owned by the Republic of Croatia, which intends to bring order to corporate governance policy.
The basis will be the guidelines given to the government this summer by the OECD, which proposes the establishment of a coordination body that will monitor the activities and results of all Croatian state owned companies, meaning the placing of all enterprises under state ownership across Croatia under one ”cap” for monitoring and management.
This new body, according to the OECD, would be of the agency type directly accountable to the government or possibly located in a ministry, provided that it isn’t in charge of enacting regulations.
It sounds like a mere formality and a new accumulation of administration, which the public will hardly welcome, especially if we remember the numerous transformations that the state-owned company management system has undergone in Croatia already, from the Privatisation Fund, the State Property Management Agency to the Centre for Restructuring and Sales. and now here’s a special ministry in charge of state property.
However, the OECD claims that the introduction of such a specialised body is very necessary, because the existing system, although improved in the meantime, is still not up to par in any way, shape or form. That is likely not a shock to anyone who has had dealings with one of these companies.
In short, their analysis of Croatian state owned companies and the entire corporate sector identified a number of ambiguities and shortcomings that this new “unit” will seek to address, from regulatory inconsistencies to insufficiently defined ownership policy objectives in terms of financial and non-financial expectations, and incoordination and poor communication between ministries.
The new agency should not only gain a range of powers in overseeing management standards, monitoring performance and publishing public reports of these Croatian state owned companies, but also take on an important role in appointing supervisory boards.
More specifically, it would propose candidates, which, according to the OECD’s estimates, would allow for greater expertise and a shift away from politics, which is desperately needed in Croatia. There is also the possibility that the new agency will get direct ownership in state owned companies, first for a small part of the portfolio, and gradually for the entire thing.
For more, make sure to check out our politics section.