Croatia is playing with “fire”: Warning from Brussels about the Construction of the Peljesac Bridge

The Chinese consortium gave the most favourable offer for the construction of the Peljesac Bridge, which attracted a lot of attention in Brussels.

That would be the very first time for the Chinese consortium to use the money of the EU, which would mean the entry of China in Europe not only as an investor but also as a contractor for projects that are funded by Brussels.

At the same time, Strabag, whose offer as well as the one of the Italian-Turkish consortium, was about 500 million HRK higher, warned that the Chinese consortium offered a damping price and that it is impossible to fully construct the bridge with that amount of money. One of Strabag’s directors, Dragan Pavelic, who is the head of the company in Southeast Europe, stated that there are many traps hiding behind the Chinese offer, including the one that the Chinese might give up if Croatia refuses to pay the “additional costs”, and they are inevitable. An example for that is a similar arrangement that the Chinese had in Poland, and when the state refused to pay all the additional costs, they just left.

Additional attention was drawn when the Chinese ambassador in Croatia, Hu Zhaoming, invited journalists and sent a message that if this project is realized by the Chinese consortium, it could open the door for Croatian investments in China.

According to available information, Brussels is carefully observing everything that is going on around the preparations for the bridge construction. There are also people who are suspicious of such kind of Chinese penetration into Europe, especially since Croatia as a new member state served for their promotion. Diplomats noted that, if the Chinese get this job, supervision will be drastic, and there is also the possibility that in case that some irregularities happen, part of the money could be denied. Events that are preceding the construction of the Peljesac Bridge are not in the public’s focus in Croatia, because there are numerous other topics in the focus, from Agrokor to Ina. But experts warned that there is a need for extremely caution during decision making, because any wrong decision can ruin the whole project.

Now there are also arguments that in case that the construction is given to the Chinese, there will be consequences on the Croatian construction business, which is already in great problems. Namely, the Chinese, with the prices they have given, will certainly try to engage as many of their workers as possible. Moreover, they will try to prepare the construction of the bridge in China, in order to avoid paying VAT for steel, and bring it as a semi-finished product to Croatia. This means that the budget would be left without millions, and the Croatian builders would be out of work. Because, in case that they accept prices of the Chinese as subcontractors, they will eventually fail.

According to the new plan, the beginning of the works is expected in the spring and, of course, the third official opening of the works.

(Source: faktor.ba)



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