Croatia’s drugs wholesalers ask government to settle bills

FILE PHOTO: Vaccination against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Zagreb
FILE PHOTO: Branka Anicic receives the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Zagreb, Croatia, December 27, 2020. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic/File Photo

February 16, 2021

ZAGREB (Reuters) – Croatia’s drugs wholesalers urged the government on Tuesday to quickly pay them what they are owed by state-owned hospitals and pharmacies.

Settling the drugs wholesalers’ demands would increase pressure on state coffers in a year when Croatia hopes to keep public finances on track for adopting the euro currency in 2023.

The overall debts of the health system for delivered medicines will this month reach a record high of 5.7 billion kuna ($915.94 million), the wholesalers said.

“We cannot credit the state any more and we demand urgent payment of 2.0 billion kuna for the debts of the hospitals and 700 million kuna for the debts of the pharmacies,” Diana Percac, who represents a group of wholesalers, told a news conference.

To adopt the euro at the beginning of 2023, Croatia will have to keep the budget deficit below 3.0% of gross domestic product (GDP) this year and next.

The budget is also under pressure because of the economic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic, and because of reconstruction costs for the capital Zagreb and central parts of Croatia after two earthquakes last year.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has said Finance Minister Zdravko Maric will have talks with the drugs wholesalers, but has not announced a date.

($1 = 6.2231 kuna)

(Reporting by Igor Ilic, Editing by Timothy Heritage)