Croatia’s opposition files no-confidence motion against government

Croatia’s opposition files no-confidence motion against government
By Carmen Simion in Bucharest November 2, 2017

Croatia’s opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) has filed a no-confidence motion against the government for the way it handled the crisis after indebted food and retail giant Agrokor almost collapsed earlier this year.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic’s government is under heavy pressure following revelations about a loan agreement for Agrokor signed in June, which according to local media reports gave creditors wide-reaching powers over the restructuring of the company.

SDP president Davor Bernardic said after submitting the motion for a no-confidence vote to parliament that the SDP has the responsibility to "untangle the corruption octopus, the conspiracy and mire in which the Plenkovic cabinet found itself because of the Agrokor case," according to Hina news agency.

The opposition managed to collect 31 signatures for the no-confidence motion, 19 from the SDP and 12 from other opposition parties, reported.

The opposition needs 76 votes to oust the government. The ruling HDZ and its coalition partner, the Croatian People’s Party (HNS), as well as smaller parties and representatives of national minorities have a slim majority. HDZ struck a coalition agreement with HNS in June, after the coalition with their junior partner the Bridge of Independent Lists (Most) ended in April.

Agrokor, which employs around 40,000 people in the country, is undergoing restructuring after a debt crisis pushed it to the brink of collapse earlier this year. Rumours about a possible no-confidence vote against the government came up last month after details of the loan agreement were leaked to the media.

In June, Agrokor secured €480mn worth of fresh financing from bondholders led by Knighthead and domestic banks. The loan is under a roll-up arrangement and Agrokor is required to repay €1.06bn, including matured debts to its creditors, according to Jutarnji List. The roll-up option allows new creditors to claim superiority to their previous debt to Agrokor.

The daily claimed that according to the agreement, the restructuring plan and the settlement with creditors cannot be made without the approval of the lenders of the new loan and the Croatian government is not allowed to remove extraordinary commissioner Ante Ramljak because this could be considered a violation of the agreement. However, both the government and Ramljak have refuted claims that the extraordinary commissioner cannot be dismissed, according to HRT.