Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Zdravko Maric said on Friday that the state would cover all its liabilities to drug wholesalers but that work also had to be done so that the health sytem does not continue generating HRK 220 million in new liabilities per month.
"The state is not running away from its liabilities to drug wholesalers and will settle them. Health Minister Vili Beros and I will talk on Monday about this with representatives of drug wholesalers, but this week HRK 300 million will already be paid. That is not a permanent solution but will definitely give a financial injection," said Maric, who is taking part in the "Challenge of Change" conference, organised by the Zagreb Stock Exchange.
Asked by reports how much COVID-19 has cost the state so far, he said that the government had said a few weeks ago the amount was at HRK 21 billion, but by the end of the year it would definitely increase to HRK 28.5 billion, taking into account money for the health system and "the fact that the state has taken on the responsibility of interest-free lending to the Croatian Health Insurance Institute, local government, HBOR (Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development) and others."
Asked whether Croatia could withstand another lockdown after a surge in the number of infections, he said that everyone was aware of what the month-and-a-half lockdown in the first wave of the epidemic had meant and what the repercussions had been.
"In that period the GDP fell by a historic 15% in Q2. I absolutely respect and believe the COVID-19 response team and the epidemiological and health profession, but they are also aware that we must find an optimal balance between maintaining and improving the epidemiological picture, and on the other hand be aware what the repercussions for the economy are," Maric said.