Croatia launches tender for motorways concession

Croatia launched a tender to lease operating its motorways for up to 50 years in order to repay loans for their construction and reduce public debt, the ministry said on Tuesday.

The government expects to rise 22.51 billion kunas (2.9 billion euros, $4.0 billion) from the concession for toll roads.

Since proclaiming independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, Croatia, the newest European Union member state, has gradually developed its motorway infrastructure, notably towards its Adriatic coast, to boost tourism.

Bidders interested in operating and maintaining 1,024 kilometres (636 miles) of motorways must respond by November 15, the transport ministry said on its website.

After the pre-qualifying phase, the best potential bidders will be chosen, a transport ministry spokeswomen told AFP.

The duration of the concession would be determined by mid-2014.

In July, Croatia's centre-left government approved the principle of a concession for 30 to 50 years.

The country which joined the EU on July 1, is struggling with recession since 2008.

Its public debt has reached almost 60 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), while the government said Zagreb was heading towards entering EU's so-called excessive deficit procedure, a bloc's monitoring mechanism for countries with a deficit above 3 percent.

The government forecasts that this year's budget gap of 3.5 percent would widen to 5.5 percent in 2014.