Swiss franc loan holders protest outside central bank


A little over 200 protesters from Franak, an association of Swiss franc loan holders, rallied outside the Croatian National Bank (HNB) on Wednesday, demanding the resignation of governor Boris Vujcic and saying they expected their problem to be solved in parliament in the next couple of days.

They also raised green cards for the government and parliament and red ones for the HNB and Vujcic.
“We support the government and parliament because parliament will decide on the bulk of our problem tomorrow. Tomorrow our problem can be solved once and for all, not just loans that are being serviced but those already serviced too,” said Kresimir Bajamic, one of Franak’s coordinators. He called on all Franak members to watch the parliamentary sitting on Thursday, to lobby, to propose in order to help so that their problem could be solved.
He reiterated that Franak supported the government and parliament, although Swiss franc loan holders continued to push for their conversion into the national currency. The government is proposing conversion into euros. “We wanted and still want kuna loans because we don’t know what will happen to those in euros. It’s a big risk. We are negotiating with several smaller banks which can withstand the conversion of our Swiss franc loans into kunas.”
The demonstrators shouted “thieves” as Bajamic attacked the HNB, notably governor Vujcic, demanding he step down. “We are here to tell the governor that it’s enough, that he resign so that he can be replaced with someone who hasn’t been inoculated against emotions, someone empathetic,” he said.
Bajamic also attacked Croatian Banking Association president Zoran Bohacek, saying he was not telling the truth when he said that banks did not make money on Swiss franc loans but only on those pegged to the euro.
Another Franak coordinator, Bozo Ivosevic, outlined some of the association’s proposals that should be included in the government’s bill on the conversion of CHF loans to euros which parliament is about to discuss. In a memo to the Finance Ministry, the association said the conversion interest rate could be a maximum one percent higher than the initial interest in the loan contract, that the HNB exchange rate on the day of the loan’s payment be applied to simplify calculations and avert manipulation. and that serviced, cancelled and all other loans be taken into account.
Earlier today, Finance Minister Boris Lalovac criticised an HNB report estimating that the conversion costs under the government scheme could reach HRK 8 billion. Speaking on Croatian Radio, he said holders had overpaid Swiss franc loans much more than initially estimated by the HNB and that the government had mechanisms to “defend” itself from possible suits by banks.