zdravko maric.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Daniel KASAP/ dk

Finance Minister Zdravko Maric has said that 220 tenders worth EUR 2.5-3 billion are being prepared for infrastructure and other projects, and that personal consumption growth, resulting from a recovery of the labour market, is expected to back economic growth.

One of those infrastructure projects is the Peljesac bridge, Maric said in an interview with Saturday's Vecernji List daily.

"Investments, the continuation of the recovery of personal consumption and a mild contribution of net exports will be the generators of growth." Maric said the government did not plan tax changes for now. "As regards the non-taxable income, we see the recovery of the labour market as the main incentive for the growth of personal consumption."

Maric expects the creation of 15,000 jobs this year independently of seasonal influence. "Alongside economic growth, that's our basic challenge."

He said downsizing in the state and public administration would also be addressed, announcing layoffs in the public administration. "From the budget perspective, I see the wage budget as a problem" because it exceeds 11 percent of GDP, he said.

"More than 380,000 persons, or one in four employees in the country, work in the public sector... We have opened dialogue with union representatives and I'm hoping for constructive and sustainable solutions," Maric said, adding that he expected the World Bank to support that process by securing funds for severance packages. He is confident that this topic could be raised with the European Commission too.

As for the Commission's recommendations to penalise early retirement, he said Croatia was pretty far from the average system of penalising early retirement, but that he did not advocate that those levels should be reached in a short time. "We are interested in enabling workers to stay employed as long as possible, and stricter penalisation measures additionally protect the system in a way."

The minister said that tax revenue had increased in the first two months of this year. "VAT and contributions are about 3% higher, excise taxes also increased, profit is in the red, as expected. We planned the revenues in accordance with macroeconomic projections."

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