Croatia's leftist government to forgive debt to 60,000 poorest ahead of election

Economic Indicators Associated Press

Around 60,000 of Croatia's poorest citizens can have their debts written off in a one-time move by the leftist government that faces a key election this year.

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Starting Monday, the citizens whose debts do not exceed some 4,500 euros ($5,000) and whose bank accounts have been frozen for more than a year, can apply for the scheme dubbed the "Fresh Start."

The government says on its website that the measure is designed to help the poorest citizens cope with the economic crisis for which they had no responsibility. But it is widely seen as a pre-election move amid the government's plummeting popularity linked to the bad economic situation.

The country of 4.2 million people joined the European Union in 2013, but the economic prospects remain grim.