Croatia's prime minister, Jadranka Kosor, said an attempt to sell ailing shipyards had been delayed to try to agree conditions for their privatisation with the European Commission.
Croatia's prime minister, Jadranka Kosor, said an attempt to sell ailing shipyards had been delayed to try to agree conditions for their privatisation with the European Commission. The sale of loss-making and heavily subisidised shipyards is a key requirement for European Union membership. Croatia hopes to wrap up accession talks next year.
'We plan to move the second round of privatisation for early February. In the meantime, we will have talks in Brussels on changing some terms of a tender,' Kosor said on state radio on Monday.
Earlier this month, the government announced a second sell-off round for Jan. 6. The first privatisation round fell through in September.
Croatia has six docks, only one of which, Uljanik in the northern Adriatic town of Pula, is profitable.
Shipbuilding used to be Croatia's flagship export industry, but now it is piling up huge debt and survives only due to hefty state subsidies, which are contrary to EU rules.
Kosor did not say which of the tender's terms could be changed. 'It is too early to talk about that before we have a meeting with representatives of the European Commission.'
If the second round also fails, all the docks except Uljanik are headed for bankruptcy, a move that would burden state coffers with debt the government has guaranteed for shipyards.
'We will do our utmost to avoid that, but we must be ready to tackle even such a development,' Kosor said.
In the first round, the government said it would give preference to bidders with the best plans to modernise and preserve shipbuilding over those offering the highest price.
Four docks were offered for a token price of 1 kuna. The smaller of the two shipyards in the southern Adriatic city of Split was offered for 18 million kuna ($3.5 million), while a strategic partner for Uljanik would have to pay 400 million for 60 percent of its shares.