Parliamentary opposition slams budget proposal

Opposition benches in parliament on Tuesday criticised this year's draft budget with Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Zoran Milanovic  accusing the government of focussing only on resolving mutual disagreements.

"The government still hasn't resolved personnel issues and is not complete," Milanovic, the previous Prime Minister, said on behalf of the SDP bench.

He claimed that the Tihomir Oreskovic cabinet had inherited economic growth for five consecutive quarters and a primary budget surplus and is convinced that the latest downgrading of Croatia's credit rating (by Moody's) is not the result of his former government's work but a matter of political impression of the incumbent government.

"Preserve that reputation. During our term, it wasn't bad. I can't say that it was great but it wasn't bad, let's not compromise ourselves," Milanovic said.

He underscored that the government was in a difficult position because it has very limited instruments to create demand at its disposal and he ruled out printing money or more borrowing as an option for Croatia.

The former prime minister concluded that the only remaining instrument is to withdraw money from European Union funds however he believes that the current government's expectation that it will absorb HRK 8 billion more is unrealistic.

Vesna Pusic of the Croatian People's Party (HNS) considers that the draft budget doesn't show any intention to implement reforms and criticised the government for its lack of ambition.

"The projections are lower than the existing state and expects that industry will grow at a slower pace than now and exports too. Employment will decrease by one percentage point compared to the end of 2015 and projections for 2018 foresee that imports will grow faster than exports," she said.

She was particularly disturbed that cuts were planned in science and sports even though the government has backed down from cutting subsidies for transport allowance for secondary students. Pusic warned that there will be 80%  less money earmarked for text books and funding for domestic science journals and further education for research assistants.

"This government term was to have been one in favour of education as an economic strategy. Based on the budget proposal, we see that that intention doesn't exist. If you have returned the money for student travel allowance, we plead that you return money for research assistants because they are young people of the future of education and know-how in Croatia," Pusic said.

The debate on the draft budget is continuing in parliament.

Last update: Tue, 15/03/2016 - 15:10
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