NHS-Krešimir Sever.jpg
Photograph: HINA / Denis CERIĆ / mm

The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is observed on October 17, and after that the richer will again get richer and the poor poorer, the leader of the Independent Croatian Unions (NHS), Kresimir Sever, warned on Monday.

Croatia is in dire need of coordinated economic and social policies that will lead to higher employment, higher wages and higher pensions that will enable people to live decent lives. That will be the most effective fight against blocked accounts, foreclosures, poverty and social exclusion, and we call upon the new government to fully devote itself to that goal, Sever said in a statement.

He said that 325,650 citizens had blocked accounts with outstanding obligations in the amount of 40.20 billion kuna, adding that there were 211,827 unemployed people, 1,412,762 people in gainful employment  and 1,231,756 pensioners.

Sever expressed concern over the depletion of human resources and emigration of highly educated young people. He said that too much attention was being paid to reforms aimed at boosting growth and making workers more competitive and too little attention to the social dimension.

The leader of the Croatian Association of Workers' Unions (HURS), Ozren Matijasevic, sent a letter to Prime Minister-designate Andrej Plenkovic saying that almost a fifth of the population lived at risk of poverty, half of the pensioners received below-average pensions, and the number of children beneficiaries of social allowances had increased by 10 percent in the last two years.

That's why the top priority of the new government should be reducing the exposure of citizens to the risk of poverty, and the success of the government and the prime minister will be judged against their success in that area, Matijasevic said.

He called for a change to tax policy to alleviate the burden on households, especially those exposed to the risk of poverty and increasing emigration, and strategic industries such as the food and wood-processing sectors.

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