Leaders of the Social Democratic Party (SDP)-led People's Coalition presented their election platform in Samobor, just west of Zagreb, on Monday, saying that their main objective was to raise the employment rate to 66.2 percent and reduce unemployment to the EU average.

SDP leader Zoran Milanovic said that one of their key goals was to reduce the tax burden on labour, recalling that his previous government had introduced various tax reliefs to boost consumption.

Milanovic was critical of the Croatian Democratic Union's (HDZ) promise to cut Value Added Tax. "They should say how they are going to do that  without jeopardising the structure," he said, warning that VAT revenues were used to cover welfare benefits.

He said that the People's Coalition too was considering a VAT reduction, but by reducing taxes on labour and strengthening employment measures, especially for young people and those above the age of 50.

Milanovic said that tax policy was one of the topics that should be debated by the two largest parties -- the SDP and the HDZ.

Milanovic said that his government had been clean. "The new one will be even cleaner, and the alternative is disorder, instability and insecurity," he said, recalling that the outgoing Oreskovic government was the first one to fail to get a loan abroad because of instability.

Speaking of the pension system, Milanovic said that the People's Coalition did not intend to experiment in that area. "There will be no experiments, we have seen experiments being made over the last six months. We will not put the status of pensioners and pensions at risk," he said, announcing the introduction of pensions for farmers. He noted that this coalition would not strictly follow orders from Brussels in this regard.

Milanovic accused the Oreskovic government of trying to halt the education reform "out of sheer malice" and added that the people who had worked on the education strategy would continue their work.

He also criticised the outgoing government for making political decisions in the health sector in order to strengthen the status of private companies at the expense of the Croatian Health Insurance Fund (HZZO). "We are not stifling private initiative, but we won't be encouraging it by artificially creating competition to the HZZO."

Milanovic once again invited the HDZ to a TV debate, even before the official start of the election campaign.

Croatian People's Party (HNS) leader Ivan Vrdoljak said that the focus of all policies should be on increasing wages. "There are regions where the priority is to increase employment, but there are also those where the priority is to increase wages. Account should be taken of both," he said.

Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) leader Kreso Beljak said that the HSS was not a farmers' union and its focus was not only on agriculture but primarily on rural development. He said that every village in Croatia should provide core services, such as school, postal service, an outpatient facility and municipal administration. "Those who are talking about abolishing municipalities don't know what they are talking about," he said.

Croatian Pensioners' Party (HSU) leader Silvano Hrelja criticised the outgoing government for trying to increase the cost of voluntary health insurance.

Related stories

Milanovic: People leaving Croatia also because of indignation

Petir support's Plenkovic's invitation to HSS to join HDZ

SDP leader welcomes HSS's decision

SDP officials say HDZ would cut pensions by HRK 230

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.