“The growth of gross domestic product (GDP) in Serbia of 5% in the first quarter of 2020 does not mean much because, in the statistics of economic growth, the rate is measured at intervals of one, five and ten years, so this is nothing more than political marketing,” said Danica Popović, professor of the Faculty of Economics in Belgrade yesterday.
After the announcement of these figures, the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, said he was “absolutely sure that Serbia will be the first in Europe and among the best in the world in the first three months of this year in terms of the GDP growth”.
“Only recently, Vučić predicted that growth in the second quarter would be 0%, and that it will be negative by the year-end. In that case, I really don’t understand why is he singing praises to the 5% growth then,” said Popović, adding that “this is reckless marketing by the ruling party”.
Unlike the previous governments in Serbia, which, as she said, during which mandate Serbia had been consistently recording economic growth, Serbia under the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) has never managed to record a growth of more than 5% per year.
“The fact that Serbian statistics stopped publishing quarterly flash estimates of economic growth last year, because the results were worse, validates my opinion that this is a marketing move. It has become regular practice for the government to publicly reveal the figures only when they have good results,” Popović underlines.
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According to her, Serbia is likely to have the least drop in the GDP because it does not have access to the sea or developed transport activity, so the fall in GDP will not be as strong as in countries with a developed tourism and transport economy.
Serbia, she added, has a rather bad GDP structure “in which agriculture has an extremely hypertrophic share, almost 8%, while in developed countries it is below 1%”.
She estimated that the reason why Serbia has had a slower decline the epidemic depends on the fact that “we do not have a dynamic and internationally integrated economy, so when the world falls, Serbia does not fall”.
When asked how she evaluates the list of investment priorities from the Serbia 2025 public investment plan and those investments implemented so far, Popović said that “Serbian trains are getting slower and slower, no roads have been completed and we no longer have the main train station in Belgrade”.
“Every year 50,000 citizens leave Serbia, as they no longer want to wait for the departure of Vučić or the abolition of the particracy or both.
When asked how she evaluated the local and global economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Popović said that the pandemic in the United States has claimed more victims than the Vietnam and Korean wars, and economic activity has recorded the biggest decline since the Great Economic Crisis of 1929.
“The path to recovery will probably be upward and steep, but overall, both the American and world economies will have a chance to recover successfully in the near future,” she concluded.
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