Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Thursday held talks with representatives of associations of persons with disabilities on the occasion of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, underscoring the need to include them in every aspect of the social life.
“This is an occasion to once again highlight this topic and the need for a better inclusion of persons with disabilities in every aspect of the social life, for better understanding and cooperation, and for facilitating all aspects of integration and normal functioning in society,” he said at a video conference.
This year has put an additional strain on persons with disabilities due to the extraordinary circumstances with COVID-19, he added.
There are one billion people in the world with some disability, including 100 million children. In Croatia, there were 512,000 persons with disabilities last year and the latest data show that we are coming close to 590,000, said Plenkovic.
He recalled the earthquake which struck the Zagreb area in March, saying that in adopting measures and the reconstruction law, the government paid special attention to persons with disabilities, exempting them from paying for reconstruction.
Plenkovic said more than HRK 1.1 billion was paid in 2019 for the implementation of the national equal opportunity strategy for persons with disabilities, with more than HRK 700 million spent nationally and almost HRK 400 million by local government.
He recalled the measures the government adopted to improve the status of persons with disabilities, including an increase of the disability allowance from HRK 1,250 to 1,500, a 75% increase of the disability allowance budget from 2016, a 20% increase of the assistance and care allowance, an increase of the caregiver fee from HRK 2,500 to 5,000 as well as a 59% increase of funds for social welfare associations.
Minister: It’s important to do as much as possible
Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy Minister Josip Aladrovic said it was important to do as much as possible to enhance care and improve the quality of life of all persons with disabilities.
He said that until November 1, the Bureau for the Evaluation, Professional Rehabilitation and Employment of Persons with Disabilities gave 429 employers more than HRK 88 million in incentives for the employment of 1,378 persons with disabilities.
As of 31 October 2020, 11,347 persons with disabilities have been registered as employed, a mild increase from the start of the year, said Aladrovic.
Many achievements but problems still exist
Marica Miric of the Croatian Union of Associations of Persons with Disabilities said the joint marking of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities was a civilisational step forward.
“There have been big achievements. Unlike many countries, Croatia has made a big step forward in the treatment of persons with muscular dystrophy. We are talking about huge funds and successes.”
She said the issue of personal assistants remained unsolved and called for quality solutions.