Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic said on Sunday he hoped that the budget would be approved by Parliament on Monday, adding that there was no money in this year's budget for pay rises.
"I hope the budget will pass through Parliament," Oreskovic told reporters after a Palm Sunday Mass at the Zagreb Cathedral, which he attended with his family.
Asked if he had agreed with his deputy Bozo Petrov on talks with trade unions, Oreskovic said that Petrov and the unions were well aware of the present situation in the country. "We will sit down and talk and agree on the best solution together."
Asked if 1.8 billion kuna (240 million euros) could be found in the budget for pay rises as demanded by the unions, Oreskovic said that there was no money now. "There will be no pay rises this year. Should GDP grow, interest rates would be lower and we might have 1.5 billion."
The government and public-sector unions are beginning negotiations on Monday on amending the collective agreements and on increasing the wage base by 6%, following GDP growth of 2% for two consecutive quarters, as provided for under a 2009 agreement that took effect on January 1. The government's team of negotiators will be headed by Deputy Prime Minister Bozo Petrov.