ZAGREB, April 26 (Xinhua) -- The Croatian government on Thursday adopted the National Reform Program for 2018 and a three-year convergence plan with three main goals.
Outlining the document at his cabinet's meeting, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said that now was the right time for implementing structural reforms, the prerequisites for Croatia's prospects of speeding up its economic growth.
The three main goals include the easing of the tax burden, making the education system congruent with the needs of the labor market and making public finances sustainable.
"These goals are part of the government's political platform and are in line with the recommendations made by the European Commission. We want this document to trigger many reforms in 2018 and in the first half of 2019," Plenkovic said.
In its report earlier this year, the EU executive body found Croatia, Cyprus and Italy to be experiencing excessive economic imbalances.
Among other things, the Commission warned Zagreb that competitiveness and investment are hindered by a restrictive business environment and that raising potential growth requires structural reforms that will allow for faster productivity growth, higher participation in the labor market, and a business environment that is more attractive for investment.
By drawing up and adopting the document, Plenkovic's government has responded to the Commission's request that all member states should by mid-April address the identified challenges in their National Reform Program and their Stability Program (for euro area countries) or Convergence Program (for non-euro area countries) related to public finances.
The convergence plan projects Croatia's growth in 2018 at 2.8 percent, and 2.7 percent in 2019. When it comes to the budget for this year, the government is sticking to its original plan that envisages a budget deficit-to-GDP ratio of 0.5 percent. This ratio is expected to drop to 0.4 percent and zero in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
The government is set to cut the debt-to-GDP ratio to 66 percent by the end of its term, while the government's program initially put this ratio at 75 percent.
The National Reform Program includes the restructuring of the transport sector -- roads and the state-owned railway operator HZ and the search for a strategic partner for Croatia Airlines.
The National Reform Program also envisages a reform of the state administration.
Plenkovic reiterated that the ministers were aware of strategic priorities and that economic growth and other macroeconomic indicators were favorable. He also voiced expectation for one more excellent tourist season that would give an additional impetus to the national economy.
The document, designed to ensure growth, employment and better living standards includes 59 measures for 11 reform areas.