The Minister of Entrepreneurship and Crafts, Darko Horvat, announced on Tuesday that this week the government would unveil a reform package aimed at creating a legislative framework to remove legal insecurity and administrative barriers to doing business.

Speaking at a working lunch given by the Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises within the Croatian Employers Association (HUP), Horvat said that this year his ministry would launch amendments to three laws that fall within the scope of his department.

Horvat stressed the need for a business friendly environment that would encourage investment and employment. "I don't see why we should count on foreign investors or go to China in search of investors since I am certain that in Croatia itself there is enough investment capital and people who wish to invest their money, but are constrained by administrative barriers," he said, adding that "right now the ministry is considering projects worth 12 billion kuna that will employ 7,300 people."

Horvat said that Croatia was facing "a structurally dangerous problem" with its labour force, because employers were asking for 10,000 work permits to be issued to foreign workers, while at the same time more than 260,000 job seekers were registered with the National Employment Service. He stressed the need for the reform of vocational education to meet the demand of the real sector.

Horvat said that his department, as well as the entire government, would insist on facilitating access to financing for enterprises, especially to EU funds, adding that this year his ministry would launch six new tenders, worth a total of 430 million kuna. Speaking of the difficulty in accessing funds of the Croatian Reconstruction and Development Bank (HBOR), he said that the HBOR should not be a commercial bank with high profits, but should reinvest its profits through loans to the real sector.

HUP president Gordana Deranja stressed the need for reforms, especially those relating to taxes. "We are eagerly awaiting tax reform. Reforms are necessary and we will keep on saying that," she said, citing red tape, frequent legislative changes, legal uncertainty and parafiscal charges as the biggest problems faced by businesses.

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