Government and President at Odds over Average Salary

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ZAGREB, March 4 (Hina) – We need a Croatia to suit its people, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said on Monday at a conference “The Croatia We Need – Two Years On” organised by the Večernji List daily. Emphasising earnings, the president said that the aim should be for the average salary in Croatia to be 7,500 kuna.

Addressing the conference, the President assessed that Croatia was faring well on the international scene, however, not as well as we would like it to be when it comes to the development in the country, underscoring that Croatian citizens have to feel the improvement in their bank accounts. “They have to feel that they have a greater purchasing power, better standard but also a greater optimism and hope for better trends in a positive direction in Croatia,” the President said.

She recalled that two years ago she warned of the problem of depopulation and that a lot of people interpreted that she was dramatising when she said that Croatia was in a “state of emergency,” in that regard. “But the situation is indeed dramatic, because demography is the issue of all issues,” she said, adding that citizens’ mobility is a good thing but it’s important for Croatia to create conditions for the return of people.

The current situation is better, she said and the results are being felt with regard to demography with a mild growth in the birth rate as a reflection of a slight improvement in optimism in one’s one state.

“The simple fact that we are discussing this existential problem, and it is in focus of public debate and that we are moving away from ideological issues and discussing issues that concern our people – whether they will have a job, whether they will be paid and whether that will be enough to survive, whether they will be able to raise children and get a housing loan that they can afford – I believe that people are beginning to believe more in the state and that proves that the government and society are thinking seriously,” she added.

It is necessary to stop the continuation of the negative population trend, she believes with tax policies in favour of investments and increased earnings.

Emphasising earnings, the president said that the aim should be for the average pay in Croatia to be 7,500 kuna. “That is the minimum that I came to through talks with people throughout Croatia when I asked them under what conditions would they remain in Croatia. That will raise the standard of the middle class in society on which the state’s stability rests,” she said.

It is essential, she considers, to limit fixed-term working contracts because last year as many as 25.3% of beneficiaries of the Croatian Pension Institute had fixed-term contracts which is among the highest rates in the EU.

“We need to explain what that means and how that negatively impacts existential security and mostly among young people at that, which is why many of them cannot plan their future,” she warned.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Monday said that the government cannot set the minimum wage at 7,500 kuna by decree as that would mean the close of business for many companies and a loss of many jobs, adding that the situation in the country today was a “tiny bit better” than two years ago.

The prime minister said he did not consider the president’s speech as criticism, noting that for the most part it commended the government. He added, however, that it was not possible to set the minimum wage at 1,000 euro by decree. “What happens then? Then all those employers who would have to pay that all at once would stop doing business or start firing,” he added.

He stressed that his government was working. “GDP is growing, the debt is being reduced. We had a surplus, economic growth is founded on healthy foundations, both the average and the minimum wage are increasing, unemployment has fallen, employment is growing, absorption of European funds is increasing, strategic projects are underway and all that in the past two years in fact… and I wouldn’t say that the situation is worse but rather a tiny bit better,” he said.

More news about salaries in Croatia can be found in the Business section.


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