INA, Zagreb.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Denis CERIĆ/ ua

The way the INA oil company is managed needs to change and INA should once again be in Croatian ownership, political party representatives said at a roundtable debate on Wednesday.

Speaking on behalf of the SDP-led People's Coalition, Sinisa Hajdas Doncic said that there was a real possibility of restoring Croatia's ownership of INA by purchasing MOL's stake with a loan that would be paid off by INA itself. He supported the arbitration procedure to have Croatia's ownership in INA reinstated because he believes MOL has gravely violated its agreement with INA.

According to Hajdas Doncic,  the main precondition to succeed in that, which also applies to the macroeconomy in general, is political stability and a mutually acceptable solution. As far as the Sisak refinery is concerned, he advocates the preservation of jobs and intensifying oil and gas exploration which has been neglected.

The Croatian Democratic Union's (HDZ) Goran Maric said it was odd that those who had sold INA now wanted to buy it back. Maric concluded that it was "either a bad sale or a bad purchase is now being prepared." He claimed that MOL isn't a strategic partner and when it was selected, contractual provisions which had been offered to all interested bidders were subsequently amended.

He believes that problems could arise when and if MOL decides to sell its shares in INA. Maric underlined that it was necessary to investigate the truth behind the sale of the "White Night" oil fields in Syria. He added that Croatia had not done enough to protect its interests and that it shouldn't be inferior in relation to its strategic partner.

With regard to the modernisation of the Sisak refinery, Maric claimed that this was a contractual obligation and could not be a point of discussion, adding that Croatia cannot agree to MOL deciding which refinery is profitable and which one isn't. Optimism that the situation in INA could be resolved lies in the fact that there are numerous examples of MOL violating its agreement.

Dario Cehic of the Bridge party believes that it is necessary to see what options are cheaper than taking out a loan to buy INA back from MOL as that would be a better way to find a strategic partner that would not be interested in shutting down INA and Croatia's interests would be protected.

He added that the way INA is managed needs to be changed because most of the management decisions are made in Budapest, which has resulted in a fall in INA's revenue while MOL's revenue has grown. INA is too important for Croatia and its economy, Cehic underscored, adding that Croatia has not exhausted all the options at its disposal.

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