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Croatian Government's Economic Revival Plan Under Fire

Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor

Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor

ZAGREB -- Opposition figures, trade unionists, and analysts in Croatia are criticizing Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor's economic revival plan as coming too late and not being bold enough to improve the economy, RFE/RL's Balkan Service reports.

Kosor, whose center-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leads the four-party ruling coalition, unveiled the plan on April 1. It consists of about 30 measures, including scrapping the so-called "crisis tax" that was introduced last year; reversing the decision to lower the tax threshold to 1,750 euros (about $2,400); and laying off 5 percent of public-sector workers.

Croatia was hit hard by the global economic crisis, with the economy shrinking 5.5 percent in 2009 and showing no signs of recovery. Unemployment hit 18 percent at the end of March, with joblessness expected to increase in the short term.

Zoran Milanovic, leader of the biggest opposition party, the Social Democrats, said Kosor's plan is "a wish list" and includes many opposition proposals that were flatly rejected by parliament.

"This...leads us to the conclusion that the government will not carry out this plan -- it doesn't know how to do it, it can't do it, or it doesn't have the courage to do it," Milanovic said.

The association of Croatian trade unions is angry because the government did not consult it about the measures and their implementation.

Trade union leader Ana Knezevic said "most of these measures are way too late. It would have been much better had we discussed them separately and agreed on what we wanted to achieve and how best to do it. This way, it's just a dead letter."

Some analysts see the plan as being focused mostly on covering the large budget deficit, while the budget itself remains unchanged.

Drazen Kalogjera, who teaches at VERN University, said scrapping the "crisis tax" would bring little benefit considering the damage it has already caused.

"This is pure cosmetics," he said.