The government held its regular cabinet session on Thursday, where they presented the 2019 national reform program and convergence plan till 2020.
The aim of the reform package, according to the government, is to increase the competitiveness of the Croatian economy in conjunction with a projected economic growth rate of 2.5 percent this year. Projections anticipate a growth of 2.4 percent next year, and 2.3 percent for 2021 and 2022. Some thirty concrete measures were presented in order to stimulate further economic growth.
Finance Minister Zdravko Marić said the government was working on ways to increase production and move away from heavy reliance on the import of goods and services: "We further expect to import goods and services at a high rate, which is having a negative impact on the GDP. This is certainly, at the moment, the biggest challenge we are facing in terms of macro-economic outlook. We must increase domestic production so that we rely less on imports."
With regard to the public debt, Marić pointed out that last year's projections had the share of public debt to GDP at 74.6 percent, which means that over the past three years the share of public debt to GDP fell by 10 percentage points. This, Marić added, put Croatia near the very top of the EU in lowering public debt. He concluded by saying that Croatia was fulfilling its EU expectations regarding the euro convergence criteria - or Maastricht Criteria - three to four times faster than anticipated.
Commenting on the national reform program was the president of the Croatian Employers' Association, Davor Majetić. He said the goals were well-rounded but that there was a major labour deficit, which he called a challenge that needed to be prioritized. Majetić noted that the only way to realize a true change was to have the reforms passed into law. And despite the 2.5 percent growth rate, Majetić said employers wanted to see quicker results. "We are adapting too slowly," said Majetić, "while our competition is moving ahead much quicker."
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