September 19, 2019 / 9:37 AM / a month ago

Croatian government backs down on later retirement age

ZAGREB (Reuters) - The Croatian government will lower the country’s retirement age back to 65 from 67 following a protest campaign led by leading trade unions, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Thursday.

Three top trade unions collected a petition of more than 700,000 citizens’ signatures last spring to force a referendum on the government’s decision to push back the retirement age. However, rather than call a people’s vote, the government decided to back down.

“By this we show that we listen to what our citizens tell us. However, some of our citizens want to carry on working beyond the age of 65 and we will make it possible in a revised (pension) law proposal,” Plenkovic told a cabinet session.

“Thus we strike a balance between the demands of the campaign and the desire of those who can and want to work longer.”

In December, parliament had approved a government proposal to raise the retirement age to 67 from 2033, for both men and women, and to reduce pensions for people who retire early.

Croatia, like many European countries, has an ageing population. Its public pension scheme costs almost 40 billion kuna ($6 billion) a year, but that cannot be covered by workers’ contributions and the budget has to finance about 17 billion kuna from taxes annually to cover the shortfall.

Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Pravin Char

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