Božo Petrov gave an interview on relations within the ruling coalition, INA, possible early parliamentary elections, the Croatian National Bank and negotiations with trade unions.
Deputy Prime Minister and MOST leader Božo Petrov said that Croatia should not abandon the arbitration proceedings in the INA case. In an interview with Jutarnji List on April 2, 2016, he said that Croatia should not sell its shares of INA and added that public companies Hrvatske Šume (Croatian Forests) and Hrvatske Vode (Croatian Waters) should also not be sold, since they are strategically important for the country.
“I think that we need to protect Croatian national interests, and INA in my opinion in one of the strategic interests of this country. In addition to INA, we should take the same position towards Hrvatske Vode and Hrvatske Šume as well. We must not sell these companies”, said Petrov responding to the question what the government plans to do with INA.
He added that for him the question is not “whether INA will be sold, but whether someone else has fulfilled their obligations”. “This is the issue that should be negotiated, and the sale of INA without prior determination whether MOL has fulfilled its commitments is out of the question. I do not understand certain statements that we do not need arbitration proceedings, when they are going in our favour and if that is one of the tools we have in the negotiating process. However, that is my opinion, and the Prime Minister will form a working group that will conduct the negotiations, and he will be the key stakeholder in the negotiations”, said Petrov.
Petrov added that speculations are early parliamentary elections are not grounded in facts. “What would be the scenario for possible new elections? Would the Patriotic Coalition come before voters even though it was the one which proposed by the current Prime Minister, who enjoys the support of the citizens? That is not grounded in facts, even though there are some within the Patriotic Coalition who might invite such scenario”, he said.
He confirmed that the amendments to the Law on the Croatian National Bank (HNB) were ready and that in a week or two they should be presented at a government session. He said that the amendments will not endanger the independence of the HNB but did say that they would provide an insight into its operations, as in other European countries. “How can there be a public institution that says it has spent 40 million kuna on other items, and we do not know what those items are?!” asked Petrov.
Petrov sent a message to unions of public and government services that there is no money for their six percent raise in salaries. “GDP had been declining for three years and the economic situation when the government signed the agreement with the unions and today cannot even be compared. I think the union representatives are aware of that”, Petrov said. He added that, if the government were to accept the increase in salaries, the next year the deficit would be so high that “we could declare bankruptcy”. “Then no one would be paid because there would be no money”, Petrov concluded.