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

Economy Minister Tomislav Panenic was the guest of a popular Croatian public television (HTV) current affairs talk show on Sunday afternoon in which he spoke about his ministry's plans and energy policy.

Speaking of the dispute between the Croatian oil company INA and Hungary's MOL, which owns nearly half of it, Panenic said that there were a lot of things which his ministry could not influence because arbitration proceedings were under way.

He accused MOL that it was not running INA according to their agreement or expectations.

"We expected that INA would not be just a distributor, but that there would also be oil exploration, production, refining, wholesale and retail," the minister said, adding that more would be known about the management of INA after the completion of the arbitration proceedings.

Asked what he would do if MOL decided to shut down one of the refineries, he said he would take legal action because that would be in violation of the agreement between the two companies.

Panenic said that hydrocarbon exploration in the Adriatic was currently on hold so that he could familiarise himself with what had been agreed. He said that all options remained open, provided that no harm was done to the environment or the tourism industry.

The minister did not rule out the possible construction of gas- or biomass-fuelled thermal power plants, saying that thermal energy had to be produced and investment in that area had to continue. He said he would know more after he got better acquainted with the situation.

Panenic said he would push for a new energy strategy that would be in line with that of the EU. He considers the present one obsolete.

Panenic thinks that a real estate tax is a good idea, but only if it will help put to use properties that are not in use now and do not contribute to economic growth. On the subject of territorial reorganisation, he said that a model of territorial reorganisation would be clearer after a public consultation.

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