Finance Minister Boasts about Responsible Management of State Finances

By 6 November 2019

ZAGREB, November 6, 2019 - During a debate in parliament on Wednesday about amendments to this year's budget, Finance Minister Zdravko Marić boasted about responsible management of state finances while the opposition had a different view.

"Croatia has a balanced budget. For four years in a row we have not crossed the originally defined limit. We are acting in line with our financial capacity," Marić said presenting the amendments to the most important financial document for the state.

The amendments foresee an increase in revenues of 1.6 billion kuna or 1.2% to 137.7 billion kuna while overall expenditure is being decreased by 1.3 billion kuna, from 140.3 billion kuna to 139 billion kuna.

Referring to macroeconomic indicators, Marić underscored that it was clearly visible that economic activity was growing, that positive trends had been identified in some economic sectors but that certain challenges were also visible.

In the first half of the year, economic growth was 3.1% with a strong contribution from personal consumption, the minister said, adding that the government was glad about increased investments and that the export of commodities and services had continued to grow, albeit not at the rates recorded in previous years.

Bridge MP Miro Bulj accused Minister Marić of boasting about the budget revision but that he did not present the "most important truth."

"The most educated Croats have emigrated and last year made remittances in the amount of 5% of GDP or 2.4 billion euro, that is a disastrous policy," Bulj said.

Emigration and demography are aspects that go beyond a one-year budget, Marić retorted.

"You were one of those who raised their hand to reduce teachers' salaries," Marić responded to MP Gordan Maras (SDP) who asked where (Marić) had managed to find 120 million kuna he was now offering education-sector workers and why there was no money to meet their demands worth 400 million kuna yet there was 280 million kuna to buy out the APIS IT - Information System and Information Technologies Support Agency, which is owned by the City of Zagreb.

"Are you buying (Zagreb) Mayor (Milan) Bandić's support?" Maras asked.

"Your government reduced job complexity indices and wages, while this government has raised wages by 18.3% without any tax changes," Minister Marić responded.

"Next year's budget foresees a 2+2+2% (wage increase), but the additional 120 million kuna, to be secured if the regulation on job complexity indices is not defined, is not foreseen by the 2020 budget. Neither was an additional 2 percent foreseen for this year, yet we managed to come up with those funds through redistribution," Marić said.

More budget news can be found in the Business section.