Zdravko Marić.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Daniel KASAP / dk

Caretaker Finance Minister Zdravko Maric held talks with World Bank and International Monetary Fund representatives in Washington on Saturday, saying that they viewed positively the fact that Croatia was in a position to have a stable parliamentary majority and government, that the 2017 budget was being drawn up and that, despite tight deadlines, he would do his utmost to implement tax changes.

Speaking to Hina on the phone, Maric said the WB and IMF representatives had shown "big interest in the political situation in Croatia" and that "they view very positively the outcome of the parliamentary election and the fact that Croatia is in a situation to have a stable parliamentary majority and government because they identify that as a prerequisite for the implementation of the measures and steps forward that are necessary to the Croatian economy and society."

Maric said that, based on economic growth in the first half of 2016, annual growth could exceed the 2% the government projected in the 2016 budget. He said the WB and the IMF closely followed Croatia's public finances. "The budget execution in the first six months shows a deficit of only 0.2% of GDP and it's very certain that we will fulfil our promise about the annual deficit, to which everyone responded positively."

He said that in drawing up the 2017 budget the accent would remain on fiscal consolidation and efforts to stabilise and cut the public debt to GDP ratio, "which will be visible at the end of this year already."

The general government public debt at the end of June 2016 was HRK 285.7 billion, down 0.6% on the year. The public debt to GDP ratio was cut from 86.7% at the end of 2015 to 84.5% at the end of June.

Maric said he had also talked with representatives of financial institutions and investors, and that they were interested in investing in Croatia.

He said the 2017 budget was being drawn up and that the new government was expected to comply with European Commission recommendations and pursue fiscal consolidation so that next year the deficit could be about 2% of GDP.

Maric said the amendment of laws to cut income and profit taxes would depend on the formation of a parliamentary majority and the government because deadlines were tight. "We are looking for ways so that the bulk of the Croatian population can feel the tax reform and its benefits. On the other hand, we wish to hold consultations with political parties and a public discussion."

He said the government financing plan for this year had been carried out to a great extent and that it was focused also on 2017, when due payments would total about HRK 36 billion. He said the borrowing plan would be known when the 2017 budget was adopted and that, given the high debt and capital price, "we will look for optimal solutions so as to additionally save on interest rates."

Maric said the talks with WB representatives had also addressed Croatia's road companies since a big part of the debt of motorway operators is due next year. He said their restructuring plans were not finalised yet, underlining the importance of good financial and business restructuring.

Maric was in Washington at the helm of a Croatian delegation at the WB and IMF annual meetings on October 6-9.

Related stories

2017 budget guidelines defined, budget gap at HRK 6.8 bn

Proposed 2016 budget not reform-oriented, analysts say

S&P reaffirms Croatia's ratings, negative outlook

Oreskovic: Budget guidelines are realistic

Latest news

EFA calls on Croatian state leadership to protect Croatian cinema

The European Film Academy, along with the 600 Croatian professionals who signed the manifesto of "We’ve Had Enough", expressed its belief in the importance of the independence of Croatian film, and in preserving the autonomy of the existing Croatian audio visual model and the continuity of current practices.

PSA chief: We want to keep Opel German

The head of French carmaker PSA Group, which last week revealed that it was in talks to buy Opel from General Motors, said that Opel should remain German if the deal goes through.

Bayern round the clock - German champions launch own TV channel

Bayern Munich fans will be able to follow goings on at the Bundesliga record champions in a new way from next week when the club launches its own television channel.

'Weather bomb' hits transport, cuts power to 56,000 homes in Ireland

Storm Doris brought winds of up to 120 kilometres per hour to large areas of Ireland and Britain on Thursday, disrupting transport links and causing power cuts to tens of thousands of homes.

Croatia's registered unemployment rate rises to 15.4% in January

The registered unemployment rate in Croatia rose from 14.8% in December 2016 to 15.4% in January 2017, increasing for the fourth month in a row, the National Bureau of Statistics (DZS) said Thursday.

Norway's telecom group Telenor to leave Indian market

Norwegian telecommunications group Telenor said Thursday it was leaving the Indian telecom market and transferring its businesses there to Bharti Airtel.

Iraq claims advance in retaking Mosul airport from Islamic State

Iraqi forces wrested back half of Mosul's airport from Islamic State Thursday, shortly after entering the facility during their ongoing campaign to drive the extremist militia from its last key stronghold in the country.

Rights group: Video shows Cambodian police beating election candidate

A video posted on YouTube shows eight Cambodian paramilitary police beating a man identified as an opposition candidate at a Phnom Penh shopping mall, a rights group said Thursday. 

Malaysia asks Interpol to issue alert for suspects in N Korean death

Malaysia on Thursday requested that Interpol issue an alert for four North Koreans suspected of involvement in last week's killing of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

British suspect arrested in Deutsche Telekom hacking

A 29-year-old British citizen suspected of involvement in a cyberattack that left nearly 1 million Deutsche Telekom customers without services last year has been arrested, German federal police said on Thursday.

Eight killed as bomb targets restaurant in Pakistan’s Lahore

A bomb ripped through a high-end restaurant in the Pakistani city of Lahore on Thursday, killing eight people, officials said, marking another attack amid a surge in violence by Islamist militants that has ended months of fragile calm.

Philippine court orders arrest of top Duterte critic

Senator Leila De Lima, one of the most outspoken critics of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, was on Thursday ordered arrested on illegal drug charges by a Philippine court.