Croatia Finance Ministry Publishes Tax Debtors ‘Pillar of Shame’

The Croatian Finance Ministry published a list of tax debtors to help boost revenue and narrow the budget deficit to 3.8 percent of gross domestic product this year from 5.5 percent in 2011.

The list, called the “Pillar of Shame” by national radio, includes 102,000 corporate, entrepreneurial and individual debtors owing taxes for longer than 90 days. They owe a combined 52 billion kuna ($8.5 billion) in taxes, ministry spokeswoman Sanja Bach said by phone today in Zagreb, or almost half the country’s estimated 118.8 billion kuna in budget spending for this year.

Croatia, which is set to join the European Union in July 2013, is struggling to attract investors and revive the economy after two years of recession and last year’s stagnation. The Adriatic Sea nation’s seven-month-old government, led by Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic’s Social Democrats, proposed 4 billion kuna in cuts in January to narrow the deficit and bolster the country’s credit rating.

“This debt didn’t accumulate overnight,” Nada Cavlovic Smiljanec, the head of the Tax Office, said in a video link on the government’s website. “We are primarily talking here about entrepreneurs and heads of companies who enjoyed good relations with the previous government and were allowed to avoid tax liabilities,” she said.

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