Addressing Demography Crucial for Croatia’s Survival

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, January 31, 2020 – Dealing with the issue of demography, namely the fact that every year Croatia loses a city the size of Makarska, is of the utmost importance for the country’s survival and future, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said while opening the seventh meeting of the national council for demographic revitalisation on Friday.

Presenting measures designed to boost population growth that had been launched during his government’s term, Plenković said that at the beginning of its term the government had recognised the problem of negative demographic trends that had existed for the last 70 years.

He warned about the fact that in that period, marked by constant emigration, the number of births had decreased three times, to the current figure of around 37,000, while the number of deaths grew mildly to 53,000 per year.

“This means that every year we lose more than 15,000 people or a town the size of Makarska, so responding to that issue is of the utmost importance for Croatia’s survival and future,” he said, stressing that his government had been the first to establish a ministry in charge of demography as well as the council for demographic revitalisation.

Demographic trends have also been affected by Croatia’s accession to the EU because it has facilitated emigration as work permits are no longer needed, but Croatia is not the only EU member with such problems, he said.

“There are for the time being no policies at EU level designed to deal with that problem. It is in a way not surprising because such topics fall exclusively within the remit of member states, however, the problem is horizontal and that is why it needs to be dealt with at the level of EU institutions.”

“Croatia has given prominence to that issue at the EU level and its insistence on finding a solution was recognised by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen who agreed that the topic of demography should be taken into account when defining the new EC departments, and the issue of demography was included on the strategic agenda of the European Council for the next five-year period,” he said.

Plenković said that over the past three years special attention had been paid to improving the standard of living of families with children.

The amount of parental allowance for employed parents for the other six months of maternity leave was increased in July 2017 from HRK 2,663 to 3,991, and on April 1 it will go up to HRK 5,643.

The income threshold for child allowance has been increased from HRK 1,663 to HRK 2,328 and the non-taxable income from HRK 2,600 to 4,000 while tax benefits for parents with children have also been increased.

“Personal deductions for parents with two children have been increased from HRK 5,720 to 8,250, deductions for parents with three children have been increased from HRK 8,320 to HRK 11,550, and that amount is progressively increased for each new child.”

“The non-taxable childbirth allowance has been increased from HRK 2,500 to 10,000,” he said, citing measures for housing provision enabling the subsidising of housing loans for more than 9,400 young families in which more than 1,000 children have been born so far.

Plenković expects that by the end of his government’s term and with the help of socially subsidised housing construction and housing loans, around 20,000 young families would buy their own home.

He added that around 500 kindergartens across the country had been renovated, with the value of renovation work standing at HRK 1.167 billion.

“Young people aged under 25 have been exempt from income taxation, while the income tax for people aged 25-30 has been halved. We have adopted a measure under which women, when retiring, will have their years of service increased by six months per child, meaning that their pension will increase by around 2% per child,” Plenković said, adding that 10,189 women had exercised that right last year.

He said that during its chairmanship of the Council of the EU Croatia would organise a ministerial conference on demographic challenges and opportunities for the EU’s development and progress.

More demography news can be found in the Politics section.


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