COMMENTARY: Strategic Investment Projects Approval: Non-Transparent and Open for Negotiations
In the last few weeks, the Croatian government has formally approved the proposals of the State Commission for Strategic Investment Projects, headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of EU Funds Branko Grcic (SDP), and declared two state projects (i.e. Rijeka Gateway Project and the coal-fired PlominC power plant) to be projects of strategic state interest. Three other projects (i.e. Mali Losinj Airport development, LNG Croatia terminal construction, and the Piskornica waste disposal facility) will be recommended by the commission for government approval.
The declaration of state projects as strategic is predictable, since it would “fast track” state projects, which are obviously supported by the central government and will logically be determined to be projects of state interest. However, the very general and subjective criteria for determining a project to be of state interest have led to the dubious decision-making and recommendation of private enterprise projects, such as the Mali Losinj Airport development.
State Bypassing Own Procedures
We have extensively covered this legislation in the LPJ and have determined that the primary purpose of the legislation is to “fast track” state projects and essentially bypass its own project development regulations and processes. Croatia’s highly bureaucratic and cumbersome processes in the development of various business projects (e.g. tourism development projects, power plants, airports, real estate, etc.) has led to the very slow development of various important projects that would lead to national and regional economic development…