Monday, 14 December 2020

Aladrovic: Application for National Pension Allowance as of Tomorrow

ZAGREB, Dec 14, 2020 - The Croatian Pension Insurance Fund (HZMO)  will start accepting applications by elderly persons for the right to a national pension as of tomorrow, and about 20,000 beneficiaries who will receive HRK 800 per month are expected next year, Minister Josip Aladrovic said on Monday.

The law on a national allowance for the elderly, which enters into force on 1 January 2021, provides for an income for Croatian citizens over the age of 65 who have not secured an old age income and are not entitled to a pension.

The allowance will be paid by the HZMO  through commercial banks, and first payments will be made in February 2021 for January 2021.

The national allowance for the elderly will cover the most vulnerable part of the population, Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy Minister Josip Aladrovic told reporters ahead of a government session.

The estimated cost in the state budget is HRK 132 million, and we have ensured that much for 2021, he said.

It will be possible to submit an application for the national allowance in person at a regional HZMO office, by mail or online through the e-Citizen system.

Aladrovic said that the target group were elderly citizens who did not have enough years of insurance and who were not covered by the social welfare system for some reason.

Those are citizens who have more than 20 years of uninterrupted residence in the Republic of Croatia, fewer than 15 years of pensionable service and who are over 65 years of age, he said.

Monday, 7 December 2020

Aladrovic: Closing Shopping Malls Not an Option

ZAGREB, Dec 7, 2020 - Labour  Minister Josip Aladrovic said on Monday that closing shopping malls was not an option at the moment.

"At the moment, closing shopping malls is certainly not an option and I personally believe that it will not be an option. We can consider some possible additional anti-epidemic requirements for shopping malls in order to reduce the potential spread of the epidemic but closing shopping malls as such is not on the cards at the moment," Aladrovic said responding to reporters ahead of a government meeting when asked if there were any projections of the burden to the budget, if, for example, malls were closed.

With regard to estimated consumption, Aladrovic said that in the first few days of December consumption was almost identical to last year's. We do not expect any significant deviation in that most important segment in this pre-Christmas and Christmas period, he said.

The head of the national coronavirus response team, Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic, said on Monday that new rules for retail shops were expected in the coming days.

He said that talks were under way with retailers on imposing additional restrictions on the number of customers allowed in a shop at any given time. He added that he did not expect this number to be limited to one person per 10 square metres.

Friday, 4 December 2020

HRK 8 bn will Have Been Disbursed for Support to Employers by Year's End

ZAGREB, December 4, 2020 - Labour and Pension System Minister Josip Aladrovic said on Friday that HRK 7.6 billion from the state budget had been disbursed so far for job retention grants and shortened working hours, and the amount could climb to HRK 8 billion until the end of this year.

Aladrovic told reporters that the government had already outlined three measures to bail out the economy.

They are job retention grants of HRK 2,000 to 4,000 as a monthly allowance for workers which means that if an employer is shut down for more than 14 days they receive HRK 4,000 for each employee. In this case, employers are also exempt from paying contributions, which amount to about HRK 470 million. The Croatian Employment Service (HZZ) updated that measure today, he added.

The second measure relates to covering a portion of all fixed costs during lockdown and that measure could amount to about HRK 250 million. A fall in turnover of more than 60% in regard to the comparable period last year (Dec 2020 to Dec 2019) makes businesses eligible for that measure. The Tax Administration will soon hammer out the criteria for this measure.

The third measure is a new package of COVID loans through the Hamag-Bicro agency amounting to HRK 1.3 billion.

This encompasses all branches that the government considers will be most exposed due to the anti-Covid epidemiological restrictions that are in force until December 21, said Aladrovic.

"We will monitor the epidemiological measures, evaluate their effect and accordingly upgrade economic measures, if necessary, in an effort to keep jobs and business activities," he added.

He underlined that negotiations with employer associations provided a series of proposals and one of them was to include micro enterprises that depend on all those who have been shut down.

"We have included them in the measures, however they have to prove a fall in revenue and that they have business connections with those sectors that are in lockdown," Aladrovic explained and added that they will be eligible for the job retention measure.

Compensation of fixed costs only applies to those who are in lockdown until December 21, he underlined.

According to Aladrovic there are three various sources to finance the jobkeeping measures, the state budget, the EU Sure programme which has provided a loan for Croatia of just over one billion euro and EU funds, or one part of the resilience programme which will provide €530 million.

He added that in the earlier phase, between March and May, Croatia absorbed HRK 1.3 billion in funds from the European Social Fund and that it plans to absorb another portion of that fund for the jobkeeping measures.

The total effect on the budget regardless of all these sources of funding at the moment is HRK 7.6 billion, which is how much has been spent on support and by the end of the year that amount could be HRK 8 billion. About 60% of that will come from the state budget and 40% from EU funds, he explained.

(€1 = HRK 7.545450

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Minister Says Redesigned Job-keeping Measures to Go into Force soon

ZAGREB, Oct 14, 2020 - Labour and Pension System Minister Josip Aladrovic said on Wednesday that the government, together with restaurant and bar owners, employers and trade unions, was expected to redesign job-keeping measures by Friday, after which they would be activated next week.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a government session, Aladrovic said that the government would do what was necessary to help retain jobs.

He said that there were currently no mass-scale layoffs due to the coronavirus crisis in relation to the most critical months of the pandemic, which he said was a good indicator.

However, the government must act considering the epidemiological and economic situation that changes quickly, he noted.

The reason for redefining government measures is that in past months, the revenue of restaurant and bar owners had improved and some of them did not have to use government aid, said Aladrovic.

"We have been in touch with employers and trade unions on a daily basis. If different measures prove possible, to enhance the possibility to prevent layoffs, we will adopt them," he said.

Asked whether he believed, in the context of Monday's shooting in St. Mark's Square, that young person in Croatia were neglected, Aladrovic said he could not agree with that impression.

"... as regards youth employment policies, in the last term we reduced the youth unemployment rate from 50 to 18%," he said, adding, in response to a reporter's question, that he did not know the exact amount of the average wage of a young person but that a general wage increase had been recorded and that it must have had an effect on young people's wages.

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Thursday, 1 October 2020

National Council for Pensioners to Discuss Poverty and Low Pensions

ZAGREB, Oct 1, 2020 - Increasing pensions and changing the pension indexation model in relation to the average wage are some of the key topics to be discussed by the National Council for Pensioners and Elderly Persons, which held its first session on Thursday, on the International Day of Older Persons.

Associations of pensioners and the trade union of pensioners  SUH welcome the establishment of the national council as an advisory body to the government, said SUH head, Jasna Petrovic, ahead of the Council's session, held in the building of the Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family Affairs and Social Policy.

She said that they hoped the council would soon start working on serious issues since 61% of pensioners had pensions below the Croatian poverty threshold.

The council has recently been established through an agreement between the government and pensioners' associations as an advisory body in the area of pension and health insurance, social policy, and the protection of the elderly.

Increasing pensions allowances, changing the model of indexing them to the average wage, and changing the model of family pensions are some of the priorities for the sessions of the national council, said Petrovic.

"Our interest is to establish a kind of social dialogue with pensioners with the aim of improving the pension system, the social welfare system and all systems that deal with the elderly," Minister Josip Aladrovic said.

Although the council is an advisory body, Aladrovic said they wanted its work to result in concrete measures and visible effects.

Sixty-six residents of care homes die from COVID-19

One of the topics will be preventing the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic among elderly persons, and mid-October a campaign will be launched to raise awareness about the spread of the disease among the elderly population.

For this purpose, a committee for preventing and curbing the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic among elderly persons was established on August 24, led by epidemiologist Branko Kolaric.

To date, 66 residents of care homes have died, which 25% of the total number of coronavirus-related deaths.

Kolaric said Croatia had done a very good job compared to other countries where the percentage is between 50 and 70 percent.

He said their goal was for elderly citizens to receive the best possible care during the epidemic.

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