President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Monday called for more efforts to be invested into creating a more favourable climate for employing the jobless and for making sure that young Croats will stay in the country and build its future.
"Unemployment is still high, and employment low, and our public debt is a growing problem which is at the risk of escalating unless we reach a growth rate of at least 4 per cent per year," Grabar-Kitarovic said at a conference called "Let's Employ Croatia", organised by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) in cooperation with the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU) in Zagreb.
The president reiterated that two years since its admission to the European Union, Croatia now had the highest survey unemployment rate among EU member-states, over 15%, as registered in August, and the lowest employment rate, of some 45% in the second quarter of 2015.
"We must finally create a climate in which job-seekers will find jobs and which will assure young Croats to stay in Croatia and build its future. In the same vein, we must create frameworks which will in the long term enable strong and sustainable economic growth in parallel with high quality jobs and lives," the head of state added.
She said that agendas targeting 1% or 2% of economic growth "reflect a lack of ambition". "We must always be realistic, but this does not rule out ambitions."
She said it's high time one ceased speaking about opportunities and potentials and that the country must get to work.
The project "Let's Employ Croatia", which was launched this spring, consists of 39 guidelines elaborated by the Chamber in cooperation with scientists and experts, HGK President Luka Burilovic said at today's conference.
"We expect political decision-makers to embrace those guidelines void of ideologies, and whose only aim is to improve the economy," Burilovic said.
He warned that currently 1.3 million employed Croatians are supporting 4.2 million citizens in the country.
According to some estimates, only 750,000 workers are in the real sector, and it is not difficult to conclude that such a situation can't last any longer, the HGK chief said.
He said that the Chamber had proved through its own example that structural reforms could be conducted in a short period, and this must be done also by the public administration.
The HAZU President, Zvonko Kusic, said that there were no simple moves or swift solutions to resolve the issue of unemployment.
"We lack continuity and discipline in implementing rules, regardless of changes in the government or changes in the ministerial positions. We need a continuity of thousand small changes to change really anything," the academic said.