tomislav panenić.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Damir SENČAR /ds

Economy Minister Tomislav Panenic on Monday confirmed that the government was aware of IBM's intentions to invest in a new user technical support centre, however he stressed, IBM hasn't decided yet whether that centre will in Croatia.

"IBM has informed us of their intended investment and we are aware of their intentions, however it is up to the company to make that decision," Panenic said addressing the reporters after the INNOVA conference on Monday.

Slovenian media reported this weekend that IBM intended to open a new user technical support centre in Croatia. Although the company had been considering Slovenia and Slovakia, the Croatian government offered the investor better conditions for the investment.

Panenic stressed, however, that no special conditions were offered to IBM. Croatia simply has a better "investment package" than the neighbouring countries.

"Croatia offers significant investment opportunities. We have a good package for investors which isn't anything special but compared with our neighbours, we have better conditions. It is very important that we offer measures for retraining personnel who are required for such a high-tech company" he said.

He stressed, however, that it was necessary to wait and see what IBM decides and if indeed IBM decides to invest in Croatia that will be a "huge success story for this government."

Asked  by reporters why an investor of that calibre wasn't offered special conditions, Panenic said that it would not be right to show preference for just one investor or just one sector of the economy.

"We can always talk about some special exceptions, but this is a package to stimulate investments that we offer all companies. Significant resources will always be available for the IT sector. The government has also decided to establish an IT Council in the prime minister's office which means that this will be given great attention. However, we cannot be selective and filter certain companies like IBM. We are opening up to all investors. Everyone wants to have a quality investor in their part of Croatia that will create more jobs and IT is attractive in larger centres while in some rural areas we have other problems. As such, we can't be selective and show preference for certain sectors because that would not contribute to equal regional development," Panenic said.

He added, that "does not mean that we won't stimulate that branch, but will apply certain measures." The support the IT sector is getting is continually growing because that is a sector that can boost progress and is a huge exporter, he said.

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