FEBRUARY 24 2012 21:16h
If the list of companies and citizens who didn't pay their taxes and fees gets announced, it will be the most read text ever. Like the alleged register of war veterans was recently read. The one that leaked over the Internet. Only this list would cause more interest and it would be a bigger blast. Thanks to persistent members of the Parliament, some former and some current, the main question was finally initiated about the Croatian state being robbed for 51 billion HRK. Every person that appears on the public list of non-paying tax payers will be a part of public agreement. It will be the unpleasant thing for names on the list and sweet thing for those curious ones as the ones who like scandals.
There are around 1.7 million of non-paying taxpayers according to data submitted by the minister of finance Slavko Linic. The list is long, so it is possible that Croatia uses a Serbian model of exposing only first hundred of biggest debtors in public. But in order to reveal such short version, Linic will have to propose some legal alterations that were protecting identity of taxpayers by far. The Government will have to take care for legal alterations and a technique of debtors’ list announcement. The Government has already gone too far with the announcement to withdraw such news later on.
By announcing the public list of debtors, the Government automatically created lots of opponents but Linic probably estimates that he could handle the pressure he will be exposed to. The Government obviously counts on psychological output of the announcement. If the evaluation about 26 billion HRK out of debts in total being payable is correct, only one tenth of that amount could change the situation during next months. Let's say, the Government could load the budget without raising VAT to 25 percent, which is politically unpopular and risky economic move.
It is interesting that around 50 billion of unpaid debt to the state (half of that amount was made in the last three years) has never become a public subject while two circumstances didn't collide: the Government changed and HDZ suffered some strife within the party. HDZ kept this information for a long time, as it became a hostage of its own policy of compliance towards big debtors. We shouldn't forget that Ina owed around two billion HRK of taxes and excise duties at one point. HEP owned something less than that. And today Jadranka Kosor proudly emphasizes that she managed to charge that money. But situation is much more difficult and almost impossible with companies of private ownership.
When the legal frame changes and if Linic remains with the announcement that the list of debtors will be published on the web page of the Ministry, we will have something to be surprised about as we will have something to be shocked of. Someone will be ashamed maybe, and someone will get a moral satisfaction. The purpose of the debtors’ list ends with that. Money won't just easily appear in the state treasury. Authorized state services will have to deal with that part of the process. The list of debtors, in that sense, is similar to the announcement of the war veterans’ registry. Citizens can browse through the list of names but they are not authorized to separate fake ones from real ones. Like neat taxpayers are not authorized to discipline those other ones. That's why we have state administration and the Government that operates such administration. And they mainly receive good salaries for their job.