18 July 2019
  • 10:50 Zagreb is always a good idea
  • 09:43 June Hot topics: Adria Airways in trouble; BiH bans cars older than 10 years; Serbia gets its first 5G base; Lower roaming costs in WB countries
  • 09:41 Top events in July
  • 11:46 Abanka sale completes privatisation of Slovenia’s largest banks
  • 09:44 MAY HOT TOPICS: EC delivers its latest report on progress in Balkans; Merkel supports Croatia’s bid to join Euro and Schengen; Serbia and Bosnia threaten retaliation against Kosovo tariffs; EU elections deliver (almost) expected results in Slovenia and Croatia; Uljanik starts bankruptcy proceedings

Fitch raises Croatia’s credit score

Fitch Ratings raised Croatia’s credit score to investment-grade level last month. The score was raised from BB+ by one notch to BBB-, with a positive outlook. “Croatia outperformed its budget target for the third year in a row in 2018, with the government posting a surplus of 0.2% of GDP… despite the materialisation of contingent liabilities from troubled shipyard company Uljanik,” the agency said. 

“Fiscal developments have been underpinned by expenditure restraint, increased revenue… lower interest costs and favourable macro conditions. Croatia’s structural features are generally more favourable than ‘BBB’ peers. GDP per capita is 30% above the ‘BBB’ median and the country scores better than peers in governance indicators and human development, thanks in part to EU membership,” it added. “The coalition government, installed in June 2017, has been able to implement its agenda relatively smoothly despite its small majority. Croatia continues to face important structural challenges that limit medium-term growth to 2%. These include shortcomings in the business environment, a complex public sector framework, weak corporate governance, still high corporate debt and legacy issues in key sectors such as energy and healthcare,” the agency stated. “Limited progress has been achieved in tackling these issues in recent years, but there is some scope for improvement as potential prior actions for joining ERM2,” it added. Fitch’s rating comes after Moody’s upheld the country’s Ba2 speculative credit rating in late April, upgrading the outlook from stable to positive. A month before, Standard&Poor’s raised Croatia’s rating to BBB-/A+, including it in the investment category after more than six years.

Adria Airways in trouble

Slovenia’s former national air carrier Adria Airways, which has been in the hands of AA International Aviation Holding since 2016 that is owned by the German 4K Investments, has been criticized for some time due to sudden cancellations and flight mergers. In the first six months this year, it cancelled 2.4% of its flights.


“In the past months, AA has had some challenges. I can not promise that there will be no more cancellations this year. The European airspace is overcrowded”, Holger Kowarsch, CEO of the troubled airliner. “We are part of Star Alliance, so we put more airplanes on our partners, like Lufthansa, which brings us additional revenue. But this is not enough, we need a strategic partner,” he added. The Public Agency for Civil Aviation of the Republic of Slovenia has so far received 134 applications against Adria Airways as the supervisory authority for the implementation of EU legislation on air passengers’ rights, mainly due to cancellation of flights and long delays. This year, the carrier, who has been faced with increased operational difficulties, has had to pay out around EUR 35,500 in fines due to cancellations and flight delays.

Lower roaming costs in WB countries

Starting on 1 July, and until 30 June 2021, the maximum cost of the roaming call in the Western Balkans countries will be EUR 0.19 per minute. SMS messages will cost up to EUR 0.06, and the data transfer will be EUR 0.18 EUR per megabyte, exclusive of VAT, according to the RATEL document. Users in Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina will be able to count on more than 50% lower invoices when travelling across the region. Prices will vary from operator to operator, but these are the maximum limits set by RATEL, according to daily Blic. It is expected that the roaming charges will be completely abolished for the Western Balkans from 1 July 2021.

BiH bans import of cars older than 10 years

As of 1 June 2019, Bosnia and Herzegovina has banned the import of used cars with Euro 4 engines, in its attempt to reduce old polluters in the streets.

Due to the anticipated measure, BiH citizens have in the past months intensified imports of used vehicles compared to the previous period, according to the Indirect Taxation Authority (UINO). In the first five months of this year, 38,661 vehicles worth more than BAM 412m were imported into BiH, out of which 34,269 were used cars. In the same period of the previous year, 27,256 used vehicles were imported. Almost 80% of registered cars in BiH are older than ten years, making it the country with the oldest fleet in Europe. According to the new guidelines published in March this year, BiH will be able to import second-hand cars only if they meet the Euro 5 standards as well as importing new cars with Euro 6 engines.

Apple Pay has arrived in Croatia and Slovenia

Owners of Apple devices in 12 European countries, including Slovenia and Croatia, that use Mastercard can now make payments with the new Apple Pay mobile wallet. Customers can use Apple Pay with their iPhones, Apple watches, and iPads for payments in stores, on websites and applications. Apple Pay is now available to owners of Mastercard in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Croatia, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. As MasterCard explains, Mastercard Digital Enablement Service (MDES) uses advanced payment technologies – EMV, tokenization, and cryptography – to ensure the integrity of the cardholder’s data. When using a credit or debit card with Apple Pay, the card number is not saved on the device or on Apple’s servers, but the device is assigned a unique account number of the device that is encrypted and securely placed in an electronic chip card. Each transaction is confirmed using a one-time dynamic security code – using the camera and face ID, contact ID or device password.

Serbia gets its first 5G base station

Last month, the Telenor company set up Serbia’s first 5G base station at the Science and Technology Park in Belgrade. Mike Michel, the company’s CEO said at the ceremony that the 5G technology will start being used commercially within a year. Rasim Ljajić, Serbia’s telecommunications minister emphasized that the technology is a condition for the fourth industrial revolution and will inevitably bring economic progress to the country. “The entire world wants the 5th generation, everyone is racing to commercialize the technology. This is a basic need for our country because the economy is currently at the level of the second industrial revolution,” he said. The 5G network will be available to students at the Belgrade University School of Electrical Engineering which is a partner in the project. A test of the base station showed that the 5G allowed Internet access at a speed of one gigabyte through a device from Huawei which is also a project partner.

Croatian FM becomes 14th Secretary General of Council of Europe

Marija Pejčinović-Burić, who became Croatia’s foreign minister in 2017, was elected the new Secretary-General of the Council of Europe. Pejčinović-Burić received 159 votes, while the other candidate, the Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, received 105. The two were shortlisted by the Committee of Ministers earlier this year. The other two candidates in the first round were former Lithuanian prime minster Andrius Kubilius and Greek former foreign minister and parliamentary deputy, Dora Bakoyannis.Pejčinović-Burić will succeed Thornbjorn Jagland, whose second term expires in October. She will be only the second woman in history to lead the organization. Pejčinović-Burić is fluent in French, English, and Spanish. The Council of Europe was established in 1949 as an international organisation whose aim is to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. Croatia joined the Council of Europe in 1996.

Hiša Franko remains one of the best restaurants in the world

At this year’s selection of the Academy of the 50 Best Restaurants in the World (The World’s 50 Best Restaurants), the Kobarid restaurant Hiša Franko was ranked 38th – ten places higher than last year. This year’s winner is the Mirazur restaurant from Menton, Côte d’Azur with chef Mauer Colagrecom at its helm.

Fitch raises Croatia’s credit score

Fitch Ratings raised Croatia’s credit score to investment-grade level last month. The score was raised from BB+ by one notch to BBB-, with a positive outlook. “Croatia outperformed its budget target for the third year in a row in 2018, with the government posting a surplus of 0.2% of GDP… despite the materialisation of contingent liabilities from troubled shipyard company Uljanik,” the agency said. “Fiscal developments have been underpinned by expenditure restraint, increased revenue… lower interest costs and favourable macro conditions. Croatia’s structural features are generally more favourable than ‘BBB’ peers. GDP per capita is 30% above the ‘BBB’ median and the country scores better than peers in governance indicators and human development, thanks in part to EU membership,” it added. 

“The coalition government, installed in June 2017, has been able to implement its agenda relatively smoothly despite its small majority. Croatia continues to face important structural challenges that limit medium-term growth to 2%. These include shortcomings in the business environment, a complex public sector framework, weak corporate governance, still high corporate debt and legacy issues in key sectors such as energy and healthcare,” the agency stated. “Limited progress has been achieved in tackling these issues in recent years, but there is some scope for improvement as potential prior actions for joining ERM2,” it added. Fitch’s rating comes after Moody’s upheld the country’s Ba2 speculative credit rating in late April, upgrading the outlook from stable to positive. A month before, Standard&Poor’s raised Croatia’s rating to BBB-/A+, including it in the investment category after more than six years.

Adriatic Journal

RELATED ARTICLES

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close