ZAGREB: Croatia’s parliament on Friday backed plans to raise the retirement age to 67 from 2033 and to reduce pensions for people who retire early, but trade unions said they would push for a referendum to block the changes.
Like many European countries, Croatia has an ageing population and the ruling conservative-liberal coalition say the changes are needed to make the pension system sustainable. Labour Minister Marko Pavic has said Croatians work an average 30 years, while Germans clock up 38 years before retirement.
Every year, the budget needs to finance about 17 billion kuna ($2.62 billion) from taxes to cover a gap in the pay-as-you-go public pension scheme, which costs almost 40 billion kuna annually. Since 2002, Croats have also had to put a percentage of their gross salaries into private pension funds.
The current retirement age for Croatian men is 65. For women it is 62, though that is due to rise gradually to 65 over the next few years.
Under the new law, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2019, there will be a 3.6 percent pension reduction for each year of an earlier retirement. The law also offers a higher pension for those who continue working despite being eligible to retire.
Trade unions said they would try to organise a referendum against the changes. To do this, they must collect signatures of at least 10 percent of voters, or some 370,000 people.