Under the first working draft of the state budget for 2016, the Social Policy and Youth Ministry will have around HRK 4.4 billion at its disposal, which is around HRK 100 million more than in 2015, Minister Bernardica Juretic said.

The ministry's budget in 2015 totalled HRK 4.43 billion, of which 4.26 billion or 96.2% was spent, and this year the planned budget should remain at roughly the same level, Juretic told Hina.

In 2016, the ministry's priorities will be to improve the coordination of ministry activities and strengthen the system of social welfare, notably in light of regional imbalances.

Financial subsidies to associations will be allocated for programmes designed to develop additional and alternative services, with emphasis on those that are insufficiently developed. The ministry's campaign to prevent energy poverty will be resumed, namely the allocation of monthly vouchers for electricity bills in the amount of HRK 200, and the measure will possibly be expanded to include other energy products, according to the ministry.

Juretic said that the announced allowance of EUR 1,000 for every newborn child was very important for the country's population policy and that even though it would require significant funds, efforts would be made while drawing up the budget to provide funding for that purpose, too.

Asked if the amount of the guaranteed minimum allowance would be changed, the minister said that an increase in any social benefit would depend on economic growth, and that the launched reforms and more efficient management of funds could positively affect those benefits.

The current guaranteed minimum allowance is not a standard, it is the state's minimum support and our goal is to guarantee a standard that will be above the poverty threshold, said Juretic.

Commenting on a project envisaging the establishment of a single centre for social benefits, for which the previous government obtained a loan from the World Bank in the amount of EUR 70 million, Juretic said that it was an inter-agency project on which a broad public debate should be opened and a decision made.

The said, four-year loan was granted for a specific purpose but it includes a component that makes it possible to use a part of the money for other segments of the social welfare system, Juretic said.

The said project envisages unifying all social benefits to be run by state administration centres, to relieve the burden on social workers.

The minister said her ministry would additionally strengthen the already launched process of de-institutionalisation and put emphasis on strengthening foster care.

Juretic also said that her ministry, in cooperation with the ministry of health, would continue promoting cooperation between social welfare institutions and psychiatric hospitals in order to protect persons with mental disorders.

As for the possibility that a new Family Act will be drafted given that the current law was submitted to the Constitutional Court twice for an assessment of its compliance with the Constitution, Juretic said that the law should be analysed to see if it was enforceable. If it turns out that it needs to be amended or an entirely new law needs to be adopted, we will do so with a reason and based on arguments, said Juretic.

Related stories

Budget gap to be 2.2% of projected GDP

Government budget deficit halved to 1.2% of GDP

2017 budget guidelines defined, budget gap at HRK 6.8 bn

Budget revenue +3.7%, expenditure -6.5% in Q1

Government adopts draft 2016 budget

HRK 380 mln grants for water supply infrastructure

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.