Prime Minister-designate Tihomir Oreskovic said on Friday that his talks with investors and bankers in Kitzbuehel on his plan for cutting Croatia's debt were successful and added that he was very pleased with the meeting that was held on Thursday.
"The meeting was very successful, I am very happy," Oreskovic said at Zagreb Airport upon his return from the Tyrolean ski resort.
He said that before departing for Austria, he had set three goals for the Kitzbuehel talks.
"The first goal was to use that opportunity to become acquainted with the most powerful investors who hold 80% of our debt and to use that opportunity to encourage optimism and a positive climate, to depict Croatia positively. I think we have very well achieved that first goal," said Oreskovic, who was accompanied by National Bank (HNB) governor Boris Vujcic at the Kitzbuehel talks.
According to Oreskovic, his second goal was to outline his programme of reforms and to see reactions from the investors.
"My last goal was to get support from those investors and I am sure that we will see a positive headway through the strengthening of our rating," the PM-designate said.
He added that the talks in the Austrian resort were also an opportunity for investors to become acquainted with him and added that they had praised as a positive step the appointment of a person from the private and financial sectors to the helm of Croatia's government.
The national broadcaster HRT said on Thursday evening that during the Kitzbuehel meetings Oreskovic had outlined some reforms that might be interpreted as more radical than what has been shown to the Croatian public to date. According to the HRT, Oreskovic met with executives of Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Eaton Vance and some other lenders as well as with credit rating agencies.
Oreskovic said at the news conference at Zagreb Airport on Friday that there would be no radical cuts, explaining that his government would focus on the reduction of the public debt and the budget deficit, on the improvement of the public sector's efficiency, on boosting the country's competitiveness as well as on strengthening investments notably through the absorption of European Union funds and putting in use the disused state property, as well as overhauling the public health sector.
Asked by the press about his impressions from the talks in Austria, Oreskovic said that the investors' main question was when Croatia could solve the issue of its public debt.
"All can see that our GDP has started increasing, which is excellent, however, the public debt would be a problem, unless we reduce it."
Oreskovic said that he had reassured the investors that the absorption of EU funds, with EUR 10.7 billion being available to Croatia until 2020, would help kick-start the country's growth, and citied the sectors of energy and infrastructure with growth potential.
He spoke about efforts to boost the competitiveness applying measures as envisaged in the Doing Business report, adding that positive changes would not require any radical cuts but the focusing on and strengthening of the efficiency through technology.
Oreskovic reiterated that reviving the state-owned disused property would help efforts to reduce the public debt, while this would not affect Croatian citizens.
As for the healthcare reform, he sad that it could be implemented in the public procurement and in the administrative costs.