Pensioners to Receive a Christmas Bonus in Croatia?

By 8 September 2015

A happier Christmas for Croatia's pensioners? 

Croatian retirees, all 1,131,312 of them according to the latest data of the Croatian Pension Insurance Institute, could receive a Christmas bonus. That is the proposal of the Croatian Party of Pensioners, a member of the still ruling Kukuriku coalition, reports Index.hr on September 8, 2015.

"We are still working on the model. We have a proposal, we have found the money, and according to the information we have from the government, they have asked the Institute to make projections. When we receive the detailed structure of pensioners, we will decide how the money would be distributed", said the spokesman of the Croatian Party of Pensioners Jurica Galešić.

He explained that Christmas bonus would be paid with the money remaining in the Pensioners' Fund, 195 million kuna in total. The plan is for pensioners who have the smallest pensions to receive the largest Christmas bonuses, while those with higher pensions would receive just a symbolic amount. "We believe that this money has already been appropriated for seniors and it should end up in the retirees' pockets", says Galešić. He added that the money from the Pensioners' Fund could not have been distributed to pensioners earlier because it was necessary to wait for all the deadlines for appeals and lawsuits to pass. "Now the money is in the Fund, and it could just end up in the budget. It is our view that it would be better to give it to retirees", says Galešić.

Pensioners' Fund was established after the Constitutional Court decided in 1998 that pensioners were entitled to compensation for the period from 1 September 1993 to 31 December 1998, because during that period pensions were not adjusted with changes in the average salary. For those pensioners who died in the meantime, the right to compensation belonged to their heirs. However, despite everything, the Fund was left with nearly 200 million kuna which the party now wants to distribute to all pensioners.

Asked how he responded to criticism that this was a pre-election vote-buying, Galešić answered: "Of course, the election campaign is in full swing and we have found a model that would give a little money to pensioners. There are no problems. Whoever finds one more kuna for retirees is free to boast loud and clear."