What Is the Secret of Low Unemployment in Medjimurje?

Total Croatia News

Unemployment is high in general in Croatia, but there is one region doing better than most in this regard – Medjimurje.

“Unemployment is one of the biggest Croatian problems which has been partly solved in Međimurje, especially in the municipality of Sveti Martin na Muri”, said Franjo Makovec, mayor of Sveti Martin na Muri at the opening of the Business Forum held on Tuesday, reports Poslovni.hr on November 10, 2015.

“Official statistics show that in the last 20 years we have been growing at an average rate of 5 to 7 percent, although I am convinced that the statistics are too conservative and that our growth is ultimately ever higher”, said Makovec who has been the mayor for six terms in a row. He added that his town, including him personally, is not ready to accept the status quo and that they want for the growth in the subsequent period to at least match the current level.

“When in the early 1990s I saw in the mornings half of our inhabitants standing at the bus station and travelling to surrounding towns, many of them in Slovenia, my heart was broken. Soon, the Slovenian labour market was closed for Croats and many lost their jobs. I realized that we have to do something quickly. By the late 1990s, we have launched an economic zone which has become the engine of development, both economic and social. Today we have 71 companies operating in the municipality, 69 small business and only two of medium size. Now, there are people from other towns who come to work in Sveti Martin, and soon we will begin accepting labour from Slovenia as well”, said Makovec.

Međimurje is in many respects more developed than the rest of Croatia, claims Matija Posavec, prefect of the Međimurje County. “It is a regular occurrence that the permits are issued within 1-5 days. Every investor who comes to Međimurje can come in and be immediately admitted to my office and get my personal phone number, no matter the significance of the project”, Posavec explained. All that contributed for the unemployment level in the county to be less than 11 percent. At the same time, just during this year alone, 1,168 new jobs have been opened.

County exports are constantly growing, and as much as 89 percent of their exports go to the EU countries. However, every coin has two sides, so even in Međimurje not everything is perfect. “Our average salary is among the lowest in Croatia. We have long held the infamous record for the lowest wages, but now we have improved slightly and we are currently sixth. But, our average wages are still 18.2 percent less than the national average. By investing in new technologies and increasing the added value of our economy, we have climbed slowly and I expect that in the coming period we will improve even more”, county prefect Matija Posavec said.

Economic zone in Sveti Martin is an example of how such zones should operate, explains Dario Kobeščak, executive coordinator of the Agency for Competitiveness at the Ministry of Economy. Kobeščak pointed out that in recent years the competitiveness of Croatia in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) has been greatly improved and in 2014 the growth of 311 percent has been recorded.


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