Assistant Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Marija Vuckovic said on Friday that regional differences in Croatia had grown considerably since 2009 and that Zagreb, with 18.54 percent of the country's population, generated 34% of the national GDP, while assisted areas accounted for 53% of the territory and 23% of the population.
She was speaking in Opatija in a panel on the prospects of local and regional self-government in Croatia as part of the 12th international Interdisciplinary Management Research conference.
She said that between the two last population censuses, the island population had grown from 123,000 to 133,000 and that this showed the usefulness of island development policies and improved transport connections.
Vuckovic said the current development index system was inadequate as it did not take demographic indicators and the dying of the population sufficiently into account. According to this system, more developed areas lose population quickest, she said, adding that a new development index system would be adopted by year's end, with greater emphasis on demographic indicators, economic circumstances, transport distance and climate.
Vuckovic said her ministry would present a draft of a new regional development strategy by the end of June so that it could be adopted in the third quarter of the year.
The county heads participating in the panel said a new territorial organisation, based on the abolishment or reduction of the number of counties, would not yield the desired results and pushed for decentralisation, saying counties should be given more powers and fiscal capacity.