Head of the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP), Gordana Deranja, warned on Wednesday that although the troubled Agrokor food and retail giant is a topic that captures the public's attention, there are other, more serious problems that need tackling.
Deranja's comments came at a news conference where HUP's report on business-related reforms for 2017 was presented.
"Agrokor (crisis) has no effect on the implementation of reforms... It is an ongoing issue that captures (the public's) attention, but there are other, more serious, problems going on beside it, that should be in focus," Deranja told reporters.
Branko Roglic, chairman of HUP's supervisory board and owner of the major consumer goods distributor Orbico, also commented on the crisis at Agrokor, saying he hoped that taxpayers would not have to cover the cost of Agrokor's crisis.
"It's a private company, and the government showed courage and determination to solve its problems. I hope that the debt settlement with its creditors will be agreed and that it will not be a burden for taxpayers," Roglic said.
According to the law on state-appointed emergency management, the settlement with Agrokor's creditors - seen as a pre-requisite for the company's orderly restructuring - must be reached by July 10.
At the news conference, HUP presented its HUP Skor, a report which tracks and measures the progress of reforms in 12 areas seen as key for improving the business environment in Croatia, and assigns scores for each. The most important positive change compared to 2016 was the jump in the score for barriers to investments and businesses, which went from 20 to 35, and the score for fiscal consolidation, from 32 to 36.
On the other hand, HUP said, the three critically important reform areas in which Croatia is still lagging behind similar countries are the tax burden for businesses, the labour market, as well as the education, health care and pension systems.