Public Administration Minister Dubravka Jurlina Alibegovic said on Thursday that she expected the announced reforms in public administration at the state and local levels to bring certain savings and that more information on possible dismissals would be known only after a thorough analysis was conducted.
"The Croatian government's objective is to conduct reforms so that we have an efficient public administration. The task is very clear, however, achieving it is a little more difficult. We plan to approach that very seriously. We will form three commissions, task forces and each of these commissions will have its specific tasks," Jurlina Alibegovic told reporters.
"The first commission will deal with digitalisation and computerisation of public administration. The second will handle human resources, which entails an analysis of competencies and job descriptions in public administration, award procedures and the Salaries Act. The third commission will propose a rational structure of public administration based on analysis with the objective of diminishing overlapping by various public administration bodies, agencies and local and regional government units," she explained, adding that the commissions were required to come up with action plans over the next few weeks.
Asked about possible savings, the minister said that "all reform measures are being implemented with the objective of offering a better service to citizens and the business sector and boosting social and economic development and growth." "Certain savings are expected because an uneconomical system leads to a lot of wastage."
Asked whether this meant dismissals, she said that "based on an all-encompassing analysis of specific jobs, business processes and employee competencies in public administration, we will also come to an optimal job structure." "After a thorough analysis, we will have information on surpluses or lack of positions," she added.
Asked if it was possible to reduce the number of municipalities and counties, she said that an "efficient public administration is possible only if the structure of state administration at the national, local and regional level is optimal." "Based on existing analyses and additional ones the expert commissions will make certain recommendations and based on that we will implement reforms," she said, adding that some of the objectives could be achieved in a few months and some by the end of the year while some would take a little longer because of their complexity.
Reporters wanted to know why there was no agreement with unions on the announced reforms and Jurlina Alibegovic said that she had an informal meeting with the leader of the public servants' union, Boris Plesa, when she stepped into office and that he was "generally informed."
"The social partners and union representatives will be important stakeholders in the commission. Unions and the social partners are very important to this government in talks on all important matters. The government's objectives are strategic objectives that concern the betterment of us all who live and work in this country, including the social partners," she said.
According to Jurlina Alibegovic, all reforms are mostly based on the National Reform Programme of the former government. "These are all reforms that need to be implemented. They were recognised in the preceding period as well and there is no reason to back down from them," she said.
"We need to adopt a national reform programme for 2016 and analyse the tasks that Croatia and the former government had committed to and that indeed coincide with the objectives of this reformist government," she added.
As regards the Salaries Act, which was to be adopted in a few months' time, she said that the already conducted analyses should be continued and possibly improved and upgraded.
Asked how wages in public administration could be equalised depending on the position, she explained that the relevant commission would make concrete recommendations. The aim is to have the same salary for the same job, she added.
"I assure you that the expert commissions will be very efficient, timing is very important for the government, prime minister, deputy prime ministers and ministers," she said.
"Our aim is not to delay reforms. They are complete, substantive and require support from everyone, from the government, the Opposition, all parliamentary parties, the non-governmental sector, the employers, the chambers of commerce and trades, the media, the academic community. There is no time to delay good ideas," she stressed, adding that any of the interested parties could be involved in the work of the reform commissions.