Milanović delivered his State of the Nation report in Parliament on Wednesday, stressing that his government would be persistent and patient with its structural improvements which are the foundation for new jobs, increased production and exports.
“We know that the persistence and patience will pay off and the effects of insistence on this concept will not be short-lived and superficial,” Milanović said, adding that his task of putting the economy in a better position was one that needed time.
“For years no one has seen, or has refused to see, that economic castles had been built out of sand and simply had to fall down,” the Prime Minister said alluding to the previous Croatian Democratic Union-led government.
Milanović said that Croatia’s industrial production and exports both grew in the first half of the year. Exports totalled 4.9 billion euros, up 14.3% from the same period last year. Industrial production he said had also risen by 0.8% till the end of July this year. The Prime Minister said in his State of the Nation address that to make sure economic development was stable and society was ‘happier’ his government would make agriculture and unemployment high priorities. Milanović said unemployment was dropping, down 7.6% in August, compared to the same month in 2013. He said schemes aimed at getting youth into employment had seen that figure drop by 7%.
“The number of the unemployed is now below 290,000. Despite the improvements and progress made, it is essentially our biggest and most important problem,” the PM said, adding that ‘stronger support for entrepreneurial creativity and innovation’ was on its way, saying that small and medium enterprises were one of the pillars of stability and prosperity.
Milanović said foundations had been put in place for the country to become an energy hub for the region.
“Three major energy projects worth about 2 billion euros in all are in the final stages of preparation, and off-shore and on-shore oil and gas exploration has been launched,” he said.
The State of the Nation address also touched on planned novelties in the tax system, saying that such a system should be established so that those wealthier who live off capital income and other annuities “participate considerably in the implementation of the concept of social solidarity.” He added that the government was in talks with banks, telecom operators and utilities to write off debts of poor citizens.
Milanović patted his government on the back for results it achieved in tourism, environmental protection and the promotion of sustainable development. He also praised the contribution of armed forces to anti-flood efforts in the Eastern Slavonia region and their professionalism in international peacekeeping missions.
Whilst Milanović’s praised the work of his government, President of the leading opposition party Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), Tomislav Karamarko, called the State of the Nation report ‘farcical, full of illusory projections and utopian’.
Karamarko said that things have gotten worse since the Milanović-led government came to power.
“Citizens feel that it would be better if there was no government at all and that, since it’s here, it’s doing nothing. If the government and Milanović really care about the people’s well-being, they should resign. Croatia needs a government that will be part of the solution and not the cause of the problem,” he said.