PM Plenkovic: Croatia can also fine Slovenian fishermen, but we call on Slovenia to resume dialogue

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Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, speaking at the start of a government session on Thursday, said that macroeconomic statistics were encouraging and that the government would continue the reform processes in the new year as well.

Plenkovic said that the consolidated general government budget for 2017 wrapped up the year in a surplus, which exceeded the projections made during the budget revision several weeks ago.

"This means that in general revenues have exceeded expenses," Plenkovic said, adding that this was a good message that the government and the state, owing to favourable economic circumstances, tax reform effects, the excellent tourist season, a rational approach to public finances and smart fiscal consolidation, "are in a position to spend what we have, even to set something aside."

Saying that these figures were encouraging, the prime minister said this would also help Croatia meet the criteria for the introduction of the euro currency.

Should these trends continue, and the public debt to the GDP ratio is now expected at approximately 78%, the government could meet its objectives by the end of the decade, namely by the end of its term in office.

Plenkovic said that according to figures provided by the Finance Ministry, the amount allocated for interest rates within the general government budget totals nearly HRK 9 billion.

"Imagine if we didn't have to pay these interest rates how high the surplus would be, we would have paid back all our debts in the health sector without even feeling it," Plenkovic said.

He also recalled that with the help of the tax reform the tax burden on businesses and households was reduced by approximately HRK 2.5 billion, salaries for public and civil servants went up three times, each time by 2%, Christmas bonuses and vacation allowances have been paid out and money has been allocated to cover debts in the health sector on several occasions.

Commenting on information that Croatians spent HRK 13.5 billion in December, a billion more than expected, the prime minister said this was a clear indicator that people received higher salaries so they spent more. He also mentioned pension indexation and an increase in the employment rate.

Croatia continues to call on Slovenia to resume dialogue on their border dispute and refrain from any unilateral moves, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said at the start of a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

"We continue to call on Slovenia to refrain from unilateral moves and incidents. There is no problem whatsoever for our police to film Slovenian fishing boats entering our waters," Plenkovic said.

Commenting on the announcement by Slovenia that it would fine Croatian fishermen if they entered Slovenian waters, Plenkovic said that issuing fines was the easiest thing to do. "Croatia, of course, can do the same. We have all the details and if it comes to that we will also take such steps."

Plenkovic again urged Slovenia to resume dialogue in line with what had been proposed during Prime Minister Miro Cerar's visit to Zagreb last month.

"Croatia is not making unilateral moves, it is very restrained and fair, trying to deal with this matter in the best possible way in accordance with international law," the Croatian PM said.

He said that the two parties were much closer to a final settlement than it appeared.

"We will behave responsibly and make sure that this issue does not escalate relations between Croatia and Slovenia," Plenkovic said, but noted that Croatia would look after its interests and the position of Croatian fishermen. He added that Croatian fishermen had the right to fish in areas where they had been traditionally doing so for years.

"We are not budging an inch. I think we can find a solution to this matter. Slovenia should also refrain from unilateral moves," Plenkovic said, emphasising that Croatia had explained its position to its partners in Europe and globally.

The prime minister said that Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolusic would meet with a delegation of fishermen today and convey the government's views to them.

"I am confident we will find a solution because, I repeat once again, we are much closer to a final settlement than it appears from media reports," Plenkovic said.

Last week Slovenia began implementing the arbitration ruling which awarded it 80 percent of Piran Bay. According to the Slovenian government, Croatian fishermen have to apply for special licences from the Slovenian authorities to fish in Piran Bay, and if they continue to fish in the middle of the bay as they have done so far they will be fined, and if they refuse to pay they will be charged when they first cross the land border to Slovenia.

Text: Hina

News | Plenkovic Andrej