Darko Horvat Nominated for Economy Minister

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, May 22, 2018 – Darko Horvat, who is expected to take over the post of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts Minister, has said that he expects a lot of challenges and the resolution of at least some of the problems in the economic sector, including the situation in the ailing Agrokor food and retail conglomerate, announcing that he will present his first measures with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković after he familiarises himself with the situation in his new ministry.

Answering questions from the press after a meeting of the ruling HDZ party’s Presidency and National Council on Monday evening, Horvat said that he was slightly surprised by the invitation to take over the Economy Ministry and that he expected many challenges in the economic sector.

He said that he expected his associates to inform him in detail of the situation in the ministry, after which he and the Prime Minister would present the measures to be taken first. He added that he was confident there would be results.

Horvat would not comment on plans regarding the buyback of shares in the INA oil company now owned by the Hungarian oil company MOL. “At this moment, a single position must be agreed with the coalition partners and I am confident that we will have it in two weeks,” Horvat said.

Addressing reporters after the meeting of the senior HDZ bodies, Prime Minister Plenković said that Horvat would be proposed for the post of Economy Minister while Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolušić would be additionally nominated for the post of Deputy Prime Minister.

The HDZ leadership has decided, following consultations, to propose that the parliament appoint Horvat as Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts Minister and Agriculture Minister Tolušić as Deputy Prime Minister in charge of coordinating economic and structural reforms, Plenković told reporters after the meeting in the party offices, noting that Tolušić would keep his position of Agriculture Minister. The HDZ’s coalition partners will be informed of the proposals on Tuesday, and the parliament will vote on the appointment of the new officials on Friday, said Plenković.

Plenković said that the HDZ Presidency and National Council also discussed preparations for the party’s reporting conference to be held this Saturday and once again went through the party’s draft statute. It was agreed that the draft statute is acceptable to the Presidency and the National Council, he said, adding that he expected the new, modern statute to be adopted at the HDZ’s general convention.

Plenković confirmed media reports according to which a part of a video for his election campaign was shot in the offices of the Šavoric and Partners law firm, explaining that this was done in line with a suggestion by an agency in charge of the HDZ’s election campaign.

The location was chosen entirely accidentally, Plenković told reporters who also wanted to know if he had been aware where the video would be shot, what was the nature of his relationship with lawyer Boris Šavorić and whether it was possible that he had suggested to the informal group that drew up the law on emergency administration in systemic companies, dubbed Lex Agrokor, to consult with Šavorić.

He said that Šavorić and he were roughly of the same age and attended the same high school and later university, but that they were not close friends.

Plenković added that as an expert on corporate, bankruptcy and commercial law Šavorić had been invited to help at the request of financial and economic experts. “I believe that he acted in good faith… since he has a good reputation as a lawyer, I am confident that he took the necessary precautions regarding his involvement in any other cases,” said Plenković.

Asked who had invited whom, Plenković said that he personally had not invited anyone but that he knew that two representatives in the informal group working on Lex Agrokor had been delegated by the MOST party. That was an early stage that preceded work on drawing up the law, when a financial and economic analysis was required to determine consequences of Agrokor’s possible bankruptcy and uncontrolled bankruptcies of its subsidiaries. In that sense, an opinion by someone who is recognised and has experience in that field was welcome, said Plenković.

Asked about his own political responsibility in the Agrokor case, Plenković said that his responsibility was that an economic and financial disaster had been prevented. “It there was anything problematic regarding the speed of drawing up the law, its subsequent implementation and anything that could cast a shadow on that very good process, that should be corrected,” he said. He noted that the usual minimum required time for preparing a law was six months and that his government did not have that time.

Plenković concluded that in the given situation, his government had acted in good faith and that he was confident the entire process would result in a settlement with Agrokor’s creditors within the set deadlines.

Asked if he feared that at the HDZ conference on Saturday some party member might tell him that the party could not be held hostage by a single person, which is what he had told his predecessor Tomislav Karamarko in 2016, Plenković said: “This is not a copy paste situation, and if anything like that happens, they should be more imaginative”. “We are a democratic party and anyone can express their view,” said Plenković.


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