A new development index, to come into force at the start of 2017, will include both economic and demographic criteria as a result of which some 50 additional units of local self-government could enter a list of assisted areas and obtain money from EU funds more easily, outgoing Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Tomislav Tolusic said at a news conference on Wednesday.
"The new development index will include, for the first time, demographic criteria along with economic ones, since those criteria are very important due to the population drain, ageing etc. The new index, to be introduced on January 1, will cover some 50 additional units of local and regional self-government," Tolusic said.
The development index is important because the allocation of money from EU funds depends on it, said Tolusic, who believes that the current index has a number of shortcomings that are to the detriment of a number of local and regional self-government units.
Recommendations for the new development index include, among other things, monitoring the education rate, i.e. the share of persons with university qualifications in the population group aged 20-65, and the ageing indicator - the share of persons aged over 65 in relation to the share of persons under 20.
The current index, based solely on economic indicators (unemployment rate, per capita income and original budget revenues), will be expanded to include demographic indicators such as the education rate, the age index and population density.
The new index should be updated every three years instead of five, as is now the case.
Tolusic said his ministry was also working on defining a poverty index.