Saturday, 5 January 2019

Trilj Offers Free Building Permits to Encourage Citizens to Stay

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 4th of January, 2018, for the whole area of ​​the town of Trilj, only eight building permits were issued for the construction of family homes in 2018.

Trilj, a town and municipality located in inland Dalmatia boasts 26 settlements which extend to 267 square kilometres, and in which 9,109, just inhabitants lived according to the 2011 census. This number is certainly significantly lower due to Croatia's ongoing demographic crisis and migration from all over Croatia which continues on today.

This worrying information set alarm bells ringing for Trilj's mayor, Ivan Šipic. While the Čaporice work zone and the 3LJ project both continue to try to secure as many new jobs as possible for Trilj's residents, and a number of other moves and investments are attempting to reverse the increasingly unfavourable demographic trends facing not only Trilj but the entire country, the notion of there never having been a smaller number of permits issued for the construction of family homes clearly shook the mayor.

Owing to this, an idea has been arrived to in order to encourage more people to request permits build houses. Šipić proposed, and the town council unanimously accepted, that in Trilj's budget for 2019, the amount of 300,000 kuna has been allocated to stimulate the construction of family houses, Slobodna Dalmacija writes.

"Many Trilj locals have plots, but for building permits they have to allocate at least 15,000 kuna. For many of our fellow citizens, that's a very large amount and even bigger brake when it comes to the decision on getting involved in construction, and as mayor, I've decided that all Trilj locals who want to build family houses will get their building permits free of charge,'' stated Mayor Šipić. Priority will be given to young married couples who choose to live with their families.

Make sure to stay up to date with our dedicated lifestyle and politics pages for more on Croatia's demographic crisis and the measures being proposed and adopted in order to combat it. If it's just inland Dalmatia you're interested in, follow our dedicated inland Dalmatia page.

Monday, 31 December 2018

10,000 Kuna On Offer to Parents of Newborns?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 31st of December, 2018, Finance Minister Zdravko Marić presented the Croatian Government's new ''demographic measure'' on Sunday for Dnevnik HTV, by which the non-taxable amount of so-called ''newborn allowance'' has been raised to a very handsome 10,000 kuna.

"An employee who has a baby'' said Marić, "her employer has the ability and the right to give her money for the newborn baby. The non-taxable amount is 3,362 kuna, but this amount has been raised three times higher and amounts to 10,000 kuna,'' announced the finance minister during an interview with HTV.

The order by the Croatian Government which regards this measure will be published on Wednesday, January the 2nd, 2019, and will come into force as of Thursday, January the 3rd, but it is already technically applicable today, added the minister.

Looking back, this has been the year in which Marić, who has been serving in the Croatian Government for a while now, stated that he was satisfied with continuing the trend of Croatia's declining public debt, which fell by 10 percentage points in just three years. It is expected that this year,  interest rates will fall below 9 billion kuna.

"Since 2015, we've cut interest rates by more than a quarter, we're paying lower interest rates, and I'm particularly pleased with what we've done for the highways and for the roads," said Minister Marić, emphasising that they continue to remain in "Croatian hands".

Recalling the alarming debts which still very much haunt Croatia's healthcare system, he said that redistributing money to the Ministry of Health can't be a viable solution to that problem.

"I'm happy that we've been able to reduce payment deadlines, especially the state ones, for a year. I'd like to see if these reduced payment periods reflected on the reduced cost of purchasing medication," Marić said.

He emphasised the need for the Croatian Government to apply a combination of measures on the revenue and expenditure side of the health budget.

"We have contributed through the third round of tax breaks, we've raised the budget for healthcare by 1 percentage point, around 1.350 billion kuna, but that won't be enough," he said, concluding that the Croatian healthcare system must be financially sustainable.

Make sure to follow our dedicated politics page for much more.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Valpovo Offers Cheaper Kindergarten, Higher Payouts for Newborns

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 23rd of December, 2018, upon presenting the most important plan for the Slavonian town of Valpovo, Mayor Matko Šutalo emphasised the fact that the record increase was the result of the joint work of the employees of Valpovo's new administration.

With just one single vote against it, the Slavonian town's council adopted the budget proposal for 2019 on Thursday, without any major objections. The amount is a welcome 124 million kuna, which is otherwise the largest amount proposed for Valpovo so far.

As previously stated, during the presentation of the most important draft plan for this continental Croatian town to date, Mayor Matko Šutalo emphasized that the record increase was the result of the joint work of the employees of the town of Valpovo's new administration, the Valpovo entrepreneurial centre and local development agencies, which, over the last year and half, had projects worth a massive 64.787.451,64 kuna.

The stated value doesn't include the value of the projects that are still waiting for the results of tenders, which amount to a further 23,401,919.59 kuna. In addition, projects in their preparation phase worth 113.7 million kuna are yet to come, and in the very creation of Valpovo's generous 2019 budget, local citizens took part in putting forward their proposals.

In accordance with the proposals put forward by the Council of HDZ, HSU and NL, two new amendments were adopted in the town's budget concerning the decrease of the price of kindergartens by 200 kuna and an increase in the amount given to parents for newborn children.

Namely, as of next year, 3000 kuna will be paid to the parents for their first born child, the birth of their second child will see a payment of 5000 kuna, and for the third, and every next child, they'll receive 7000 kuna for each. The measure intends to work as an incentive, and will be used as Valpovo's contribution to mitigate Croatia's extremely negative demographic trends, which in Valpovo and Slavonia as a whole, continue to be the most bleak.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Monday, 17 December 2018

Work in Croatia: Labor Deficit Sparks Increase In Quota For Foreigners

December 17, 2018 — The Croatian government is set to confirm an increase in the annual quota of foreign workers allowed to work in Croatia, to shore up labour deficits across several economic sectors, according to Vecernji List.

The new quota allows 63,600 foreigners to work in Croatia next year. It includes increases for the healthcare, social service, and tourism industries.

Demographers from the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb, Ivan Čipin and Šime Smolić, calculated that one person travels into the country every 38 minutes and 14 seconds. Presumably, some of them come to work in Croatia. Meanwhile, people continue to migrate three times faster, with one person leaving the country to work elsewhere ever 13 minutes and 54 seconds.

The proposed quotas allow for 200 permanent nurses or technicians, a first for that industry. Fifty would work in the healthcare system, and 150 in the homes for the elderly.

The new quota also includes a call for social welfare workers. Only five foreigners were employed in this sector in 2018 — as guide dog instructors.

As of next year, 460 slots will open in some sectors of the social welfare system. Apart from nurses, at-home caretakers and homes for the elderly and children, the system lacks cooks, cleaners. The market is also open to ten physiotherapists, work therapists, social workers and five foreign psychologists and speech therapists.

Plenty of Work In Croatia, Not Enough Workers

"It’s only a drop in the sea of our needs,” Jozo Tolić, entrepreneur and representative of the association of owners of private homes, told Večernji. “If there were workers, homes for the elderly and the disabled could immediately employ 2,000 people. My estimate is that the social welfare system will need 3,500 workers very quickly. The proposed quota is not enough; it should be increased.”

Tolić added private facilities are burdened with the requests for accommodations but reject them even though they have empty rooms because they do not have enough staff.

“You can not take people if there is no one to feed and take care of them,” he said.

The salary of the nurses in the nursing home ranges from 3,600 to 4,000 kuna per month, and nurses from 5,300 to 5,900 kuna.

"We would also have a thousand euro monthly salary if we could charge so much from the user, but we can not,” Tolic said.

“You can not find a home cleaner in Zagreb even if you paid in gold,” Tolic complained.

Only in this year, according to his data, 1,800 nurses left Croatia. Most headed to Germany, where they earn EUR 1,800 to 2,000 per month.

Of the 63,600 new slots, 41,810 licenses relate to new employment, 6,540 are seasonal employment permits in tourism, agriculture and forestry, 250 allowances to switch roles, and 15,000 extensions of existing licenses.

All the quotas are meaningless if nascent wage increases slow down or stop altogether, according to Krešimir Sever, president of the Independent Croatian Trade Unions.

“The competitiveness of the Croatian economy cannot be built on low-paid labour,” he said. “The government increases the quota just as momentum for wage increases build.”

“There is a lot of illogicality in the Government’s proposal,” he said, citing the five permits for foreign psychologists as an example when over 200 Croatian shrinks are unemployed.

Unmet Quotas

Quotes for foreign workers in the tourism and hospitality industries will double next year, even though Interior Ministry data show new hires fell short of last year's quota.

Tourism companies and caterers were able to employ 600 foreign chefs this year but used less than half the amount by the end of October 2018.

Next year’s quota is increasing by one thousand, not counting the chefs of international cuisine and auxiliary workers.

Shippers could have employed about a thousand foreign drivers this year, yet by the end of October, they hired less than 50.

The tech industry was one of the few economic sectors to use a majority of its allotted work permits in 2018, with nearly all of the 300 spots filled. For some reason, it’s 2019 quota will drop by 120 work permits.

Follow TCN's dedicated page about Croatia's demographic crisis.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Croatian Demographic Picture: Cash for Birth in Least Populated Municipality

There can be no denying that Croatia's overall demographic picture is grim. An astonishing amount of people have left, mainly since the country's accession to the European Union, when borders ''opened'' and life was made easier for those seeking opportunities abroad, but also since before then. With an enormous number of Croats having fled the country, mainly from the overlooked continental and eastern areas, the already poor Croatian demographic picture is growing more and more bleak.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 13th of December, 2018, over the last six or seven years, all the first graders from the entire territory of the Levanjska Varoš municipality, with its 136 square kilometres, in which there are just nine settlements, will sit behind just three school desks, according to a depressing report on Croatia's continually worsening demographic crisis by Glas Slavonije.

The small number of children born in this part of Osijek-Baranja County this year offers no hope for this municipality, at least at the moment, and with very little room for optimism in expectations of its demographic recovery, other measures are being sought.

Cash for every birth is an incentive for many, as the aforementioned area is one of the least populated areas, the first association of which is one of ​​poor development, a small population, and one of the areas in the whole of the Republic of Croatia which is the most in need.

In Levanjska Varoš, there are currently less than 6.9 inhabitants per square kilometre. The last census, which was carried out back in 2011, stated that there are 1,250 inhabitants, but, according to the mayor Slavko Tidlačka, for a long time now there have been less than 1,000, about 950 people who live in one of the nine settlements.

Like the poor Croatian demographic picture in general, the prospects for many local villages in this area, as well as across the country as a whole, with a little more ''leg room'' in some areas, are still extremely bad.

Until recently, this municipality has been awarding parents a sum of 1,000 kuna for each newborn child, but now that amount has been significantly boosted. Last year's decision on the right to financial compensation for newborn children in the area was passed. According to the details of that move, parents are paid 2,000 kuna for their first and second child, 5,000 kuna for a third, and for the fourth and then every next child, as much as 10,000 kuna.

Make sure to follow our lifestyle page for more information on the poor demographic image in Croatia and much more.

Monday, 10 December 2018

No Easy Fixes For Croatia's Demographic Crisis

December 10, 2018 — Croatia still hasn’t found a strategy to address its rapidly shrinking workforce, according to Poslovni Dnevnik. The effect on the economy — from investment to exports — will be hard to predict.

In the following year, the Croatian economy will lose more than 50,000 workers, according to a recent poll conducted by members of the Croatian Chamber of Economy.

At least as many people left the country last year, about half of 100,000 who left Croatia since the country joined the European Union.

The figures are probably an underestimation based on unreliable data — few people declare they’re leaving Croatia for good or where they’re headed.

Nonetheless, Croatia still has no strategy of addressing the rapidly falling labor shortage, aside from stopping emigration in the next few years.

All this will have a significant impact on the slowdown in economic activity in the country, according to participants of the International Migration Conference.

"While the situation is alarming, we see no serious attempts to address the many causes and remedies of the consequences of the staff crisis and all that it carries,” said Davorko Vidovic, Labor Policy Advisor and Employment at the Chamber of Economy.

He added structural problems such as a low level of lifelong learning to late entry and early exit from the workforce create a labor vacuum then exacerbate by emigration.

The number or profile of people leaving Croatia remains largely unknown. Some data suggests it is mainly working-age adults who have finished university.

Krešimir Ivanda, Ph.D. at the Department of Demography of the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb, said the country’s options are limited.

Some demographic measures — encouraging remaining Croats to stay and procreate — can only deliver results after at least 25 years. Another option — importing workers — is increasingly encouraged by employers. The short-term fix comes at a cost, though.

Importing workers also brings its headaches. The professor’s analysis suggests immigrant workers succumb to many of the same structural problems that befall Croatia’s workforce.

The emigration and labor shortage could perhaps lead salaries in Croatia to grow, especially in the sectors where workers are most missing. But it’s a double-edged sword.

Less developed areas of the country will not be able to keep pace with growth, resulting in regional wealth disparities within the country.

Yet emigration isn’t a full-blown negative trend.

The diaspora offers a significant source of money through family and friends or through direct investment. Yet this recent wave of emigration doesn’t match previous waves, when breadwinners left their families and sent money back home. Today, whole families pack up.

"If we continue at this pace of emigration and declining work, Zagreb as one of the strongest economic centers in Croatia will lose one third of the active population by 2051, with 440,000 active citizens going to 309,000,” Ivanda said.

Follow TCN's coverage of Croatia's demographic crisis.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Croatia's Roma Join Mass Emigration

November 29, 2018 — A new group has joined the masses emigrating to Western Europe: Croatia's Roma, an oft-marginalized societal and economic underclass which has until now stayed put.

The most impoverished of Primorje-Gorski Kotar County’s Roma have started leaving Croatia, according to Novi List. About four thousand Roma lived in the area surrounding Rijeka until recently, but the number dropped drastically as the unemployed and poorest families left for Germany.

Croatia overall is enduring a mass exodus as young, well-educated citizens leave to the tune of nearly 200 a day by some estimates.

The last two years saw the number of families surviving on some part of Croatia’s social safety net fall by over 100 in the broader Rijeka area.

“Some left three years ago; some two years ago, others yesterday. They left for bread, for a better life,” Sadik Krasnić, president of the Council of the Roma National Minorities of the Primorsko-Goranska County, told Novi List. “More people would have left, but we managed to employ them on time, mostly in Sanitation.” Krasnić know of about 15 to 20 families who have left recently, each with three children or more.

The worst-hit areas appear to be Rujevica and Škurnjske Drage. The town of Delnica may also see a mass exodus. There, many families lack employment or any connection to basic municipal services such as water or electricity. Some, according to Krasnić, still live in tents.

Roma have historically been ostracized within Croatia and often unable to access basic municipal services and social welfare benefits granted other citizens. A 2015 UN Human Rights Committee report claims Roma effectively became stateless after the breakup of Yugoslavia and “face difficulties in meeting the requirements for obtaining Croatian citizenship because they often lack personal identity documents."

Roma moved into the Rijeka region, the northwestern corner of Croatia next to the Istrian Peninsula, in the 1950s. The first migrants made their living shining shoes under the clock at the city’s center. Their descendants, including Krasnić, still live there — of have until they started moving out.

A cadre of local politicians have helped Rijeka’s Roma find jobs, get electricity, legalize homes, and build playgrounds for children, according to Krasnić.

“We desperately want our kids to go to school, finish their educations so they can find their callings,” Krasnić said. “We don’t want to live in isolation.”

Those who emmigrated found jobs, apartments, schools for their children, Krasnić added. The better-off members return during the summers to fix the homes they left behind, checking odds and ends such as electric and water connections — still in the works at the time they left.

“They’ll come back some day, I know their souls,” Krasnić added.

Check out our other stories on Croatia’s ongoing demographic problems.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Carlsberg Croatia Signs Cooperation Agreement with Croatian University

An unusual but excellent agreement on cooperation signed between one Croatian university and Carlsberg Croatia is set to bring students closer to their potential employers, and connect theory and practice to help keep young people in Koprivnica.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 16th of November, 2018, on Wednesday, November the 14th, 2018, a press conference was held at the North University at the University Centre in Koprivnica, where the signing of a cooperation agreement between the Koprivnica educational facility and no less than Carlsberg Croatia was held. The press conference was attended by Helle M. Petersen, the president of Carlsberg Croatia's management board, dr. sc. Mario Tomiša, the vice president of the Koprivnica University Centre, associate professor. dr. sc. Vlado Tropša, the vice chancellor for teaching and student affairs, as well as other heads of study programs of the aforementioned University.

With signing the said cooperation agreement, a period begins in which students and the Koprivnica brewery (part of the Danish Carlsberg Group) are expected to find ways to work together. Student practices, the visiting of various experts from Carlsberg at the university, as well as connecting through other projects will be mutually beneficial.

Helle M. Petersen, CEO of Carlsberg Croatia, noted during the introductory part of the conference: "The collaboration of the economy and educational institutions is the only safe way for the whole society to progress. Koprivnica is a wonderful place to live, with many advantages offered by its residents, and for young people to remain here we need to connect a professional perspective to it, too. At Carlsberg, we're proud that we've always been a learning organisation and have been developing our people, and that's why we want young people to recognise the benefits of working in an international environment, a company that deals with such a passionate and interesting thing, as is beer production.''

Assoc. prof. dr. sc. Mario Tomiša emphasised that this cooperation will strengthen the link between Koprivnica and international companies: "Koprivnica is a small town, and we who were born here have been living with Carlsberg since our youth, our family, friends and our associates work there, the Carlsberg connection is a long-standing and powerful one, and North University wants this link to be deepened even further, to the satisfaction of all three sides.''

During the conference, Tomiša emphasised that the agreement encompasses cooperation on scientific research and professional projects, cooperation on teaching at the university in question, as well as in the development of knowledge, skills and competences of students.

"We're happy that Carlsberg Croatia has recognised the quality of our studies and has decided to support us in an effort to provide students with more through their studies. Lifelong education, programs which connect theory and practice, and connecting students with their potential employers; these are all areas in which the university has impressive results. This year, the university opened up a new undergraduate degree in Food Technology, and in the second and third year, we focus on beer production. Today, we have 27 study programs at the university, so we can cooperate with Carlsberg on a series of other directions such as economic and technical logistics, sustainable mobility and logistics, media design, business, and management,'' concluded Tomiša.

Want to keep up with more news like this? Make sure to follow our lifestyle page.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Hendal Survey: 56.8% of 25 Year Olds Work, Most Want to Stay in Croatia?

Does the Zagreb-based Hendal agency's survey reveal anything new?

A lot can be said of the Croatian domestic economic situation, and even more can be said about the level of young people leaving the country in their droves in search of higher standards, more job security and a better wage in other European countries, with those further west like Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom among the most attractive of all.

Potential staff can't find employers, and potential employers can't find staff. It's a bit like Where's Waldo but with serious consequences. As the buses and planes continue to leave and the situation gets more and more pressing, it's difficult to know just how one can manage to get to the raw truth lying behind the sensational journalism, the shocking headlines and the apparently welcome trends of negativity.

The situation is a dire one, and it shows no immediate signs of recovery, or does it?

As Lucija Spiljak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 7th of November, 2018, the Hendal market research agency, based in the Croatian capital of Zagreb, explored the habits of young people for the very first time in the Republic of Croatia.

The Zagreb-based Hendal agency has been investigating the habits and attitudes of the country's 25-year-olds. The first such survey conducted by the research agency here in Croatia shows that as many as 56.8 percent of the respondents do work, 25.9 percent are in some sort of education, and just 16 percent of those contacted are unemployed or seeking a job.

58.7 percent of young people are currently working in some sort of profession, and 21.7 percent claim that they aren't working in what would be termed as a profession by their own choice. Those people are budding entrepreneurs, and explain that they're taking that route in particular because as many as 50 percent of them are seriously considering starting their own business, while only 16 percent of them say they're definitely going to leave Croatia.

Croatia's young people, according to Hendal's research, aren't interested in politics, although 48.8 percent of them confirm that they do always go to the polls to vote.

Hendal's research reveals that most of them spend their free time cooking more than going out, encouragingly, most do not smoke, and in a somewhat lighter survey, 47.5 percent of them would choose to take their phones with them should they end up on a desert island, with more than six hours a day spent using a phone spent by 42.6 percent of the respondents.

Today, young people up to 25 years of age, of which there are about 49,000, don't see property and real estate as a priority.

Only 28.4 percent of them are sure they'll marry, and children are eventually planned by 69.8 percent of young people in Croatia.

Interested in keeping up with more news like this? Make sure to follow our lifestyle page to stay up to date.


Click here for the original article by Lucija Spiljak for Poslovni Dnevnik

Friday, 19 October 2018

"Lack of Workers is Biggest Barrier to Tourism Development"

Negative trends need to be taken care of and we need to change them quickly so that Croatian tourism will develop in the long term in line with the importance it has within the Croatian economy.

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