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Dec 18, 2017 17:14 EEST
December 18 (SeeNews) - The collapse of Croatia's biggest private-owned company, Agrokor, has brought to the forefront all the weak points of economic transition the country, including crony privatisations, state favouritism of certain big companies, false reporting and superficial auditing, and undeserved soft loans, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom said.
Croatia ranked 14 out of 30 European and Central Asian countries in the 2017 Freedom Barometer published by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.
Croatia scored 64.87 points out of a 100, up a slight 0.87 points from last year, as it continued to battle with corruption particularly in the sphere of business, which was exemplified by Agrokor's fall.
The foundation measures freedoms based on 10 main variables applied to three different categories - political freedom, rule of law and economic freedom.
Croatia scored a low 4.90 points out of 10 in the corruption variable of the rule of law category, down 0.20 points. Besides Agrokor reflecting economic issues, it also pointed out conflict of interest by government officials, which overshadowed the country's fight against corruption, the foundation commented.
The country also scored a low 5.38 points in the economic freedom variable 'regulation of credit, labour and business', down 0.04 from 2016.
The foundation found that starting a business in Croatia takes some time, with high notary fees and paid-in minimum capital. Obtaining a construction permit in the country is also both slow and expensive, while the educational system is inefficient, it added.
The size of Croatia's government is excessive, the foundation also said. It scored the country a low 4.91 points in this variable, judging that its public deficit and debt are too high.
The country was, however, commended for its protection of human rights, scoring 7.75 points, up 0.05, and for its free and fair election system for which it earned 9.64 points, flat from 2016.
The media landscape, however, was deemed pluralistic and diverse. It got Croatia a score of only 5.90 out of 10, due to government interference into independence of state agencies and broadcasters, as well as the media's financial dependency from advertising and lack of adequate job conditions for journalists.
Croatia has been part of the Freedom Barometer since 2013, since its inception, when it earned 62.31 points.
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