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Photograph: HINA/ Dario GRZELJ/ ik

Croatian Employers Association (HUP) president Gordana Deranja said on Thursday she was not pleased with the European Commission's latest forecast of Croatia's economic growth, claiming that such low rates meant long term stagnation and calling for efforts to make growth "go towards three percent."

The Commission today upgraded Croatia's economic growth forecast for this year to 1.1 percent from May's forecast of 0.3%, but called for implementing structural reforms in order to stop public debt growth. Croatia's GDP is estimated to grow 1.4% in 2016 and 1.7% in 2017. The general government deficit is projected to decrease from last year's 5.6% of GDP to 4.9% this year, to 4.7% in 2016 and 4.1% in 2017. The general government debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to continue rising from 89.2% in 2015 to 91.7% in 2016 and to 92.9% in 2017.

Asked by the press to comment on the forecasts, Deranja said HUP had asked political parties 16 questions about the deficit and the fiscal policy. "We expected the parties to say how they plan to deal with this problem. That calls for structural reforms which won't be handled in the first year in office, but let's see if we will finally change the course we have been on for 20 years or if we will continue to stagnate."

She said HUP wanted to see before Sunday's parliamentary election what the next government planned to do to change that legacy, but that it received no concrete response or political position.

She said a one percent growth meant stagnation and recalled that the real sector had undergone restructuring, that it was investing to be competitive and that industrial production was growing. "We expect the government to do what the real sector did, that it undergo restructuring, that it get off our backs so that we can breathe more easily with reduced levies and contributions."

"We are disappointed that we didn't get a serious plan of intentions nor the names of the people who will run the state," HUP director general Davor Majetic told reporters, adding that the two major coalitions did not say in their platforms how they intend to deal with the key problems of entrepreneurs and employers.

He said, however, that some smaller political parties had provided more specific answers and platforms.

"We wanted to point to the fact that the current state of the Croatian economy is untenable and that we expect reforms in education, health care, finance and other areas," said Deranja.

The HUP representatives said they would begin talks with the next government on specific measures to improve the state of the economy immediately after the election.

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