ZAGREB, Dec 18, 2020 – Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Friday that regardless of the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, salaries and pensions would not come into question and that job-retention measures would remain in force as long as necessary.
He was asked by the press how long the current lockdown could last without salaries and pensions coming into questions. “They haven’t this year, they won’t the next either. Salaries will be here, pensions will be here, we’ll retain jobs.”
Plenkovic said they would do everything that a responsible government and state should do, and which proved to be good, in these particular circumstances.
“The next six months are key. If we look at the experience from last spring, when the weather gets a little warmer, the epidemic likely won’t be as strong as it is today. Secondly, the vaccine will come and we will vaccinate our citizens, showing resilience to the further spread of the infection.”
He said the government would find the money for job-retention measures as long as they were necessary, while at the same time working on economic recovery and resilience as well as investment.
The government will use this opportunity to reset Croatia for a digital and green transition and to invest in the fourth industrial revolution, while at the same time preventing deep inequality in society and other crises, Plenkovic said. “That’s the responsibility of the government and the state, and we will stand behind that. Everything we have done so far has been in line with that.”
Commenting on central bank forecasts, he said this time of holiday shopping was important for the functioning of the state, adding that the COVID-19 measures were balanced.
The central bank estimated yesterday that real GDP could drop by 8.9% this year, up from the 8% drop estimated in mid-October, and rebound by 5% in 2021, down from the estimated 5.2%.
The central bank does not expect GDP to reach the pre-crisis level next year but in 2022. If the COVID situation is not put under control by the end of March 2021 and some parts of the economy need to remain locked, the estimate is that the pre-crisis level could be achieved only in 2023.