ZAGREB, February 4, 2018 – Ivan Vrdoljak, leader of the Croatian People’s Party (HNS), a junior partner in the HDZ-led coalition government, has commented for Hina on several current political topics, one of them being the ratification of the Istanbul convention, saying that even though the HNS has requested its urgent ratification, it is not insisting on any deadline by which it should be done and that toppling the government over that issue would be irresponsible.
Asked about Prime Minister Andrej Plenković’s announcement that the standard 25% VAT rate would be lowered, Vrdoljak said that he was not sure that a horizontal lowering of the rate by one to two percentage points was the best thing to do and that his party would state its position after carefully analysing the proposal.
Tax policy should be primarily aimed at reducing the tax burden on the business sector and enabling new employment and investment, he said, noting that one should first see which industrial sectors needed assistance in the form of export stimulation and new employment and then compare that with an analysis of the possible horizontal VAT reduction.
Asked what he thought about the Russian oil giant Rosneft’s interest in entering INA’s ownership structure, Vrdoljak said that it was crucial to find a strategic partner for INA that would help maintain production in INA’s plants in Sisak and Rijeka as well as invest in gas and oil exploration and exploitation in Croatia and abroad.
Underlining the importance of transparency in the process of choosing a new strategic partner in INA to replace the Hungarian-owned MOL, Vrdoljak said that consultants for the planned buyout of MOL’s stake in INA would be selected in a few weeks’ time and that they were expected to present the government with the buyout model and suggest the partner that would help the government develop INA in the desired direction.
Asked about his party’s demand for the urgent ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) and what the HNS would do if the HDZ continued stalling the issue and if it would consider walking out of the coalition, Vrdoljak said that his party had urged the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 2015, during the term of the SDP-led government, to ratify the convention while the then opposition HDZ was holding news conferences pushing for the ratification of the document.
In 2017, the SDP, which in 2015 did not ratify the document as it did not want to give in to pressure from the HDZ, is demanding ratification while the HDZ is unsure whether it should ratify the convention or not, said Vrdoljak. “We want the document to be put on the parliament’s agenda and a vote to be taken to see who is in favour and who against its ratification and whether there is the necessary majority to vote in the convention,” said Vrdoljak.
Asked if the HNS would topple the government if the Istanbul Convention was not put on the parliament’s agenda, Vrdoljak said that such a thing would be irresponsible and that it would paralise the country.
Asked if the HDZ had promised his party any concrete deadline by which the parliament could vote on the convention, he said that the HNS was not insisting on any specific dates but was calling for doing it as soon as possible.
Asked if there was any obstruction of the process of the curriculum reform, Vrdoljak said that the Science and Education Ministry (headed by Blaženka Divjak, the HNS’s choice for the minister) had secured in only a few months 200 million kuna for the reform and launched the process of teacher training for the reform pilot-project, to start in September.
Curricular documents have been completed, we are receiving mostly positive reviews, both from Croatia and abroad, said Vrdoljak, adding that his party was proud that the political framework had been created for experts “to do a big thing for the future of our children and the entire country.”