Croatia remains poor with a 4.5-per-cent economic growth rate, but with a rate of only 6.7 per cent it could come out of that situation and must, therefore, do everything to achieve those growth rates, President Stjepan Mesic said Tuesday.

Croatia does not have the right to be poor with everything it has, from human potentials to all other resources, he said after the presentation of a study ob unemployment in Croatia by the Vienna Institute for Comparative Economic Studies.

In terms of unemployment, Croatia is at the same place it was a year ago, no solution is visible, there is no organised system of retraining the long-term unemployed, and what is most dangerous, Croatia does not have an employment policy for sophisticated products, said Mesic.

Croatia used to be an industrially developed country but today it is going back to manufacture, he said, adding that foreign investment had been directed into monopolies and that banks had been sold at a cheaper price than the cost of their rehabilitation.

The result is that the number of about 300,000 jobless remains a constant because there is no political solution to this issue, the president said, adding that it was unlikely that someone would attempt to tackle the situation in 2007, an election year.

The study has shown that in comparison to new EU countries Croatia has a relatively high unemployment rate, notably long-term unemployment, and unemployment among senior citizens, women and young people, where the rate goes up to a high 30 per cent.

The study has also shown big regional differences in the unemployment rate, which is about eight per cent in the Zagreb region but up to 20 per cent in Vukovar, as well as a surprisingly lower unemployment rate among those with the highest degrees of education in comparison to EU countries.

Experts from the Vienna Institute have also highlighted the relatively low productivity of the Croatian economy, the high cost of labour and the very low investment in employee training. They have also pointed to the low financial measures on the labour market which in Croatia account for 0.6 per cent of GDP against 2.3 per cent in the EU.

The study has also shown that contrary to trends in other transition countries, Croatia has a higher employment rate in the agriculture -- 17.3 per cent of all employed -- which is due to the fact that many people who lost jobs turned to farming, a sector in which many returnees also find employment. (Vecernji List)