By Adnan Prekic – Podgorica
Although the official statistics have concluded that the standards of living in Montenegro is much better compared what it was a few years ago, you will hardly find a citizen who will confirm such a claim. With an average salary of €479 and a minimum food basket for a family of four from €796, it is difficult to survive. Every tenth citizen of Montenegro live below the poverty line, with only €182. The average resident owes about €2,950 to the banks.
Official statistics say that the gross domestic product per capita increased several times. GDP in 2003 was €1,510, while in 2012 amounted to €5,063, which would mean that the standard of living, as measured by this indicator, improved by 3.4 times. According to Eurostat data, if we eliminate the differences in prices, GDP per capita in Montenegro is 41% of the average GDP per capita in the EU. Among the countries in the region, Croatia has the highest GDP in purchasing power standards, which is 62% of the EU average.
Montenegro is in second place with 41% of the EU average, Serbia is at a level of 36%, Macedonia 35%, Albania 30%, and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the level of 29% of the European average.
The average salary in the last three years in Montenegro ranged from €518 to €473. According to recent data, the average salary at the end of 2013 was €479. However, for the minimum requirements of a family of four in Montenegro, according to official statistics, it is necessary to double the money. The minimum consumer basket in late 2013 amounted to €796.
Prices in Montenegro is still below the European average. Eurostat research showed that food prices in Montenegro decreased by 25% when compared to other EU countries. The price of bread was reduced by 28%, meat by 33%, milk, cheese and eggs by 23%, fruits and vegetables by 24% and electricity it’s cheaper, gas and other fuels by about 40%, transport services by about 50%. Particularly disturbing is the number of people living under the poverty line. Official statistics say that 11.3% of Montenegro’s population lives below the poverty line. This means that every tenth citizen of Montenegro lives on less than €182 per month, which represents the poverty line. Such a large number of poor people for many non-governmental organizations is problematic. They argue that there are much more poor people than official figures shows.
The standard of living also affects inflation. During 2013, inflation was 1.8% higher than the EU average, which stood at 1.5%. However, the best picture of living standards in Montenegro can be painted by looking at the indebtedness of its citizens.
From a total of €2.46bln that was owned to the banks on loans and other receivables, 74.8% is accounted for as the debt of the economy and the population. That means that every citizen of Montenegro, on average, owes about €2,950. The average citizen is almost 3.5 times more in debts in comparison with the citizens of Serbia, who in the end of last year owed an average of €863.