Marić on State Helping Shipbuilding: ”Everything Comes to an End”

Lauren Simmonds

Marić insists that the government is trying to do all it can, but that owing to EU rules, even HBOR’s hands are tied.

As Index writes on the 22nd of August, 2018, a meeting of the cabinet has seen government ministers comment on the unfolding and dire situation in Uljanik, where a strike for the failure to pay wages for the month of July kicked off this morning. The overall assessment appears to be that the government does what it can, but has a significantly narrowed maneuvering space when it comes to offering a response.

Finance Minister Zdravko Marić stated in response to the question of whether the state could do more to help shipbuilding: “The constraints are quite big, constraints about which we’ve been aware since joining the European Union”.

“The maneuvering space is rather small,” Marić added, pointing out that HBOR is indeed seeking and wanting to assist Croatian entrepreneurship and the domestic economy in all segments, but HBOR also has its hands tied to a certain degree.

Marić expressed no desire in attempting to predict just how close the ailing Uljanik was to the pre-bankruptcy, or even total bankruptcy. “Numerous questions need to be put to another address, the government isn’t trying to escape its role, but we know what model the ownership, management, and the running of that company is like,” he said.

”All things come to an end, including state aid for shipbuilding.”

“All governments have so far helped the shipbuilding industry through various advance and financial guarantees, but everything comes to an end. There are limitations that are really significant,” noted the finance minister, who once again didn’t want to predict the outcome of the worrying situation in Uljanik, nor did he want to discuss the possibility of the government having to step in if the management of that company decides to step down, a move being sought by Uljanik’s frustrated employees today.

Minister Tomislav Tolušić said that the government is doing all it can to help in this situation, but “the [Uljanik’s] administration must definitely assume responsibility for everything.” When asked if Uljanik’s administration should depart, Tolušić offered no response.

“The government thinks it can help in the legal capacity in this situation,” said State Property Minister Goran Marić.

On the objection that, due to European Union rules, the government can no longer financially assist shipbuilding, Marić replied that the government was therefore considering what options were available to offer help.

When asked if bankruptcy could become the reality for Uljanik, Marić vaguely replied: “Everything is real in Croatia.”


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