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Croatia's Vujcic stares down the doom-mongers

The country’s bloated public sector and rapidly rising government debt burden have alarmed analysts and prompted comparisons with Greece. As the nation emerges from six years of recession, however, central bank governor Boris Vujcic argues that there is much to celebrate.

Most summers, it is Croatia’s beaches and islands that attract international attention rather than its economy. This year, however, external analysts, rating agencies and journalists seem to have spent the holiday season vying with one another to produce the most doom-laden outlook for the country. Much has been made of its rising public debt burden and comparisons with Greece have proliferated. One analyst recently predicted: “In three or four years’ time we will be talking about the Croatian crisis.”

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“Growth of 3% to 3.5% should be possible for Croatia and 
should be a policy goal,” says Boris Vujcic

It is slightly surprising, then, to find the country’s central bank governor, Boris Vujcic, in buoyant mood. Yet as he points out, compared with recent years, there is much to be cheerful about in Croatia. After six years of recession, the economy is finally growing again. Admittedly, even the most optimistic forecast is for expansion of just 0.5% this year and 1.2% in 2016. What is important though, says Vujcic, is that the fledgling recovery looks to be sustainable.

“In previous years there was a dichotomy between positive external demand and negative internal demand but this year we are seeing signs that internal demand is also picking up,” he says.

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