Transport Minister Butković says that Croatian Motorways public company cannot otherwise repay its debts.
Minister of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure Oleg Butković commented on Friday reports about an increase in tolls paid on motorways managed by the Croatian Motorways (HAC) public company. According to reports, the tolls will increase by 5 percent off season and by 15 percent during the summer months, reports Index.hr on February 24, 2017.
“Everyone knows that the total debt of Croatian Motorways is 5.2 billion euros. This year, the company has to pay back 1.2 billion euros, and next year even more. This is a major problem for state finances, which needs to be addressed. About a year ago, after we decided against selling the motorways, we started the programme of financial and business restructuring in cooperation with the World Bank”, said the Minister on Friday.
He added that negotiations were ongoing, and that the government had not yet made a decision. However, the decision will be made very soon, because “the company cannot repay from its income 1.2 billion euros due this year”. “We are preparing a reform package, whose goal is to increase income and reduce expenditures. We want to make the company sustainable and stable, so that it is no longer a headache for the state budget”, said Butković.
Minister said that the reform package would be presented to the public. “This is a very good solution and I think that this is the only way to avoid selling or giving a concession on Croatian Motorways, so that they can stay in the hands of Croatia and Croatian citizens. After all, people gave more than 500,000 signatures to demonstrate that they do not support the sale of the company”, said Butković, reiterating that the public would be informed about everything in about ten days.
Asked whether the government had decided against the introduction of vignettes on the motorways, Butković said that no such decision had been made. “We need to protect the income of Croatian Motorways and must not allow the income to be reduced. Analyzes and studies regarding the introduction of vignettes have not shown that they would increase income of the motorways, on the contrary”, said the Minister.
He pointed out that the question of the toll collection system had been left unanswered in talks with the World Bank. “By the end of the year we will prepare yet another study, which will examine all the elements. We have to protect income, but also to enhance safety and increase traffic on the motorways. We should have the answer by the end of the year”, concluded Butković, adding that “vignettes have not been eliminated as an idea, but at this point we will most likely leave the current system in place”.