April 12, 2018 / 8:53 AM / 7 months ago

Croatian parliament debates no-confidence motion against deputy PM

FILE PHOTO: Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic (C) speaks to media next to Finance Minister Zdravko Maric (R) and Economy Minister Martina Dalic in Zagreb, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic/File Photo

ZAGREB (Reuters) - The Croatian parliament began on Thursday to debate an opposition no-confidence motion against Deputy Prime Minister Martina Dalic over her handling of a debt crisis that hit Croatia’s largest firm Agrokor.

The opposition says that Dalic, who is also the economy minister, should have exercised tighter control over those hired to stave off bankruptcy at the food concern.

Former Agrokor crisis manager Ante Ramljak stepped down in February after the government voiced discontent over the hiring of his former employer as a consultant on a restructuring program - potentially setting up a conflict of interest.

Dalic and the government rejected the opposition’s accusations, saying the debt crunch had been handled successfully and that they could not have known all guidelines regarding the hiring of consultants.

Earlier this week Agrokor said its creditors had reached agreement on a settlement deal which includes a debt-for-equity swap, a certain level of write-offs and sustainable debt for the new Agrokor holding. The ruling conservative-led coalition has a narrow parliamentary majority of 77 in the 151-seat parliament.

Government officials voiced confidence that the opposition, led by the Social Democrats and center-right Most (“Bridge”) party, would be unable to muster the 76 votes needed to remove Dalic and destabilize the Zagreb government.

The no-confidence vote is expected to take place on Friday.

Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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