Plenković to Present Ministers and Government Programme to Parliament

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By the end of the day, Croatia should get a new government.

Prime Minister-Designate Andrej Plenković will today present to Parliament his candidates for ministers and the programme of the government for the next four years. While the names of the ministers have been known since yesterday evening, during the night Parliament published on its website the programme of the new government, reports Jutarnji List on October 19, 2016.

The document contains 46 pages which cover government’s objectives: political stability, legal security, economic growth and social solidarity. The government will pay special attention to measures aimed at economic development and protection of families. In addition to the protection of minority rights and dialogue with religious communities, Plenković’s programme promises “responsible dealing with the past and condemnation of all non-democratic systems which caused tragic suffering, persecution and liquidation of political opponents in Croatia over the past century”.

The main objectives by 2020 are stable and lasting economic growth, creating new and better jobs, stopping emigration, and promoting demographic renewal and social justice and solidarity.

“The next twelve months are crucial for initiating changes and development which Croatia needs”, claims the programme which lists five basic pillars on which the government will work in order to develop entrepreneurship. First, the government intends to implement a comprehensive tax reform and improve conditions for doing business. Second, the government will take specific measures to invest in “engines of growth”, which include agriculture, tourism and industry. Third, the government intends to increase the effectiveness of institutions by simplifying rules and accelerating administration system and the courts. Fourth, it will continue to strengthen the sustainability of public finances, which means a further reduction of budget deficit with the ultimate aim of returning Croatia’s credit rating to investment level. The fifth pillar is the reform of the education system.

The remaining part of the programme is divided in 12 chapters, with most space given to economy, agriculture and rural development.

In the “business environment, entrepreneurship and investments” segment, the goal is to create better business conditions and lower administrative costs and barriers.

In education, science and sports, the government will continue with curricular reform and achieve a “wider societal agreement”. It will also introduce dual vocational education in which employers will become partners of educational institutions and make decisions together about educational programmes and enrolment quotas.

As for economy, agriculture and rural development, Croatian industrial progress will be based on technological, business and social innovations. The government will promote strong agricultural development, further development and construction of the irrigation system, and the strengthening of the fisheries sector. There will be more investments in tourism, and “CRO Card” will be introduced as a new model of tourist vouchers which will enable people in Croatia to have more affordable vacations.

In the field of labour and employment, the government will work to create an effective, developed and regulated labour market. It will redefine measures for “vocational training without employment” and introduce loans for young people in the amount of up to 350,000 kuna for them to start their own businesses.

In the field of demography, Plenković’s government intends to introduce changes in grants for each newborn child, increase compensation for the second six months of parental leave, as well as introduce changes in the child allowance, and the rights and status of parents in families with four or more children.

The government will modernize public administration system with the aim of creating a results-oriented system. It also promises de-politicization and computerization.

Plenković’s government intends to reform the electoral system, to “correct the deficiencies” and solve the problem of uneven number of voters in parliamentary constituencies.

It promises to improve the public procurement system, fight against corruption and management of state assets, and to introduce high-speed internet in every household by 2020.

The government will introduce greater fiscal responsibility and implement policies that will contribute to the stability of public finances. As for the reform of the tax system, it will include corporate tax, income tax, salary contributions, value added tax, and real estate and property taxes.

Citizens with frozen bank accounts will be able to pay off their debts through long-term payment plans. The programme also mentions an effort to enhance transparency in the operations of the Croatian National Bank.

In terms of regional development, the government plans to reduce the level of centralization and implement reorganization so that operations are carried out at a level which can effectively respond to the demands of businesses and citizens, which includes a new allocation of responsibilities and the elimination of overlapping regional and local governments. The government particularly stresses successful use of EU funds.

It notes that the pension system is unsustainable in the long term and therefore requires further reforms. Specific measures are not mentioned, but it promises to increase pensions by 5 percent by the end of the parliament’s term and to enable people over 65 years of age to continue working if they choose so.

As for rights of national minorities, the government will within 60 days prepare operational plans for individual minorities, and every six months there will be consultations on the implementation of government programmes in this regard.

The government foresees the adoption of a media strategy which will establish priorities for the development of media policies and media legislation. It will introduce a new law on HINA news agency, while the independence of the Croatian Radio Television will be strengthened.

In the field of national security, the government will adopt the national security strategy, it will establish stronger cooperation between intelligence and security services in the context of the fight against terrorism, and strengthen defence capabilities of the armed forces.

Foreign policy objectives of the government will be the realization of national interests, giving support to Bosnia and Herzegovina and other countries of South Eastern Europe on the road to EU and NATO, and strengthening of the Central European dimension of Croatian foreign policy. Special attention will be paid to preparations for the Croatian presidency of the European Union in 2020.


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