A member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Presidency and member of Parliament, Sinisa Hajdas Doncic, said on Saturday that the current situation in the Agrokor food and retail concern was due to "crony capitalism dating from the time of ownership transformation."
"We know that the reason why the economy is so exposed to a single system is privatisation and ownership transformation. It started with the same political party which now has a problem and does not how to solve it," Hajdas Doncic, who was Transport Minister in the Zoran Milanovic government, told a news conference in Zagreb.
He believes that there is a conflict of interest in the case.
"First (Economy Minister Martina) Dalic exempts herself from the INA case, then (Finance Minister Zdravko) Maric exempts himself from the Agrokor case, and now probably she will take charge of the Agrokor case and he of INA," said Hajdas Doncic, accusing the current government of clientelism and of favouring exclusively big business.
"We find the proposed model (for the bailout of companies vital for the national economy) unacceptable, we want the state to have an active role, but not by being a dominant creditor but by being a creditor that will protect workers, suppliers and its own rights, by participating equally with other creditors in Agrokor's restructuring," he said.
The SDP official called on Agrokor owner Ivica Todoric to publicly explain Agrokor's situation, how he intended to solve the company's problems and what he had in mind regarding its restructuring.
Hajdas Doncic also wondered whether the government-sponsored bill designed to help bail out companies that are vital for the national economy meant that taxpayers would pay for Agrokor's current liquidity.
The SDP advocates an entirely different model, with the state being a partner and participant in the restructuring process that would have to take into account three key factors - the amount of the debt to small suppliers, the amount of workers' wages, and the amount of the company's VAT debt, said Hajdas Doncic.
Economics professor Josip Tica warned about the problem of Agrokor's small and medium suppliers and workers, who he said did not have anyone to represent their interests.
"Agrokor annually pays HRK 4.5 billion for wages, half of which is paid in Croatia, and if wages are not paid, that becomes a macroeconomic problem in the context of personal consumption," he said.
Tica believes that Agrokor could cause what he described as a recession infection in the system.
"When you look at Agrokor's financial statement for 2015, it is evident that its sales revenue from regular operations was around HRK 22 billion in Croatia, however, with regard to industrial turnover, the strongest component was the food industry and its turnover totalled HRK 21 billion," he said, adding that creditors such as big banks could survive possible negative effects but that other creditors could have difficulty maintaining their operations.