"More than 600,000 pensioners in Croatia receive pension checks which are below the poverty line, and that the ratio between the average pension and the average salary is at a record low at 35.9 percent," state news agency Hina said on Friday, citing a press release by the Croatian Pensioners Party (HSU).
The number of poor people in Croatia is “growing by the day,” Hina said. According to Eurostat, the poverty line in Croatia is currently 2,927 kuna (€390), and “the risk of poverty rate is higher than ever before,” HSU leader, Veselko Gabricevic said at a news conference, held to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, observed on 17 October.
“We are seeing a surge in energy prices, notably in prices of petroleum products, which is having a direct impact on prices of all staples. The last pension adjustment of 68 kuna (€9.05) is almost next to nothing. Regardless of the legal requirement for pensions to be adjusted twice a year, pensioners’ purchasing power is decreasing and their lives are becoming harder,” Hina cited HSU press release which cited Gabricevic as saying.
State pensions are calculated using a formula which is supposed to be updated every six months.
The HSU is “dissatisfied” with the present pension indexation formula, saying that it “leads pensioners into even greater poverty,” Hina reported.
They said that this issue has been raised with the National Council for Pensioners to stop a further decline of pensions in relation to wages. The party is calling for a comprehensive pension reform to increase the lowest pension bracket.
According to the Croatian pension service, 1,113,522 pensioners received pension payments in September, meaning that pensioners form more than a quarter of Croatia’s total four-million population. About two thirds of them – 722,644 – get monthly pension checks ranging between 500 kuna (€66) and 3,000 kuna (€400).
Gabricevic noted that the total also includes 9,195 pensions (0.8 percent out of the total) paid out in September which were 8,000 kuna (€1,065) or higher, “including those of (former) members of Parliament.”
HSU has one MP in the 151-seat legislature. Although they ran in the latest election in July 2020 as part of a broad center-left coalition, their single MP – former party leader, Silvano Hrelja – sides with the ruling conservative party HDZ in June 2021. It is unclear whether party, which elected new leadership in 2020, supports the current government or not.
(€1 = 7.51 kuna)