Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic presented strategic projects of his government and main cross-border energy and infrastructure investment projects at the Western Balkans Investment Summit of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London on Monday.
We will pay special attention to all activities that encourage economic growth, create jobs and a positive investment climate, and raise the standard of living of our citizens, Oreskovic said at the summit, which brought together government officials and business executives from the Western Balkans region.
Among those attending were prime ministers Milo Djukanovic of Montenegro, Aleksandar Vucic of Serbia, Isa Mustafa of Kosovo, Edi Rama of Albania, and Denis Zvizdic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Oreskovic said that his government would unveil a well-balanced budget in mid-March, with the focus on fiscal consolidation and budget deficit reduction.
The next step will be to reduce public debt by activating 500 million euros in dormant capital, and our aim is to improve the credit rating so as to ensure lower costs of borrowing, he said.
Among other priorities, the Croatian government will create a EUR 500 million fund for small and medium enterprises, and will concentrate on drawing of EU funding, he said. Last year Croatia drew EUR 500 million from EU funds and this year it aims to draw between EUR 900 million and 1 billion to use for infrastructure, tourism and agriculture-related projects.
Oreskovic also highlighted the need to create a favourable investment environment and cut red tape by improving the efficiency of the public sector.
He noted that at this summit he was the only prime minister who had been an investor, saying that as the CEO of the Pliva pharmaceutical company he had invested about EUR 250 million.
Speaking of cross-border infrastructure projects, Oreskovic cited the construction of an LNG terminal on the northern Adriatic island of Krk, an Adriatic-Ionian gas pipeline, an Adriatic-Ionian motorway and the Croatian section of the pan-European transport corridor 5c which runs from Hungary via eastern Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the southern Croatian port of Ploce. He stressed that these projects were important for the private sector as well.
I am an optimist by nature and as such I believe that Croatia and its neighbours present an excellent opportunity for investment that will increase our mutual prosperity and ensure a platform for greater cooperation and a brighter future for all our citizens, Oreskovic said.
Before the summit, Oreskovic held a bilateral meeting with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Trade and Investment Minister Francis Maude.