Finance Minister Zdravko Maric said on Wednesday that talks with British American Tobacco (BAT) were still underway, that the situation was not simple but that he did not agree with the claim that deteriorated conditions of doing business were the reason why the company might leave Croatia.
Answering reporters' question before a government session about the situation regarding BAT and whether it was true that the company had given the government an ultimatum which the government did not plan to comply with, Maric said that talks were still underway.
"With all due respect for public interest, I will refrain from commenting, as I have been in recent days... everything will be explained at a given moment but since talks are still underway, I do not intend to comment," said Maric, who has been conducting talks with the owner of the tobacco factory in Kanfanar.
Asked what the problem was now, Maric said: "It's not that simple."
Commenting on the initial claim that BAT could leave Croatia due to deteriorated business conditions, Maric said that taxes had been reduced in recent years, and that the country's system of excise taxes was valid for Croatia while more than 80% of the Kanfanar factory's production were exports, so there was practically no connection between excise taxes and BAT's production in Croatia.
"Even if that were so, Croatia's excise taxes... are among the lowest in the EU," said Maric.
He noted that any investor was welcome in Croatia and that all investors, whether domestic or foreign, were treated in the same way.