Domestic investors call for more state support

“Serbia has great natural resources, so agriculture and local economy can develop better with the state support,” argues the association called Protector of Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs of Serbia (Zaštitnik Preduzetnika i Privrednika Srbije).

The Association is appealing to the Government to stop subsidizing foreign investors to such a degree, reduce tax on low wages, stop discriminating against mothers who are small business owners and revise several laws that regulate small and medium-sized companies.  These, in short, are the requests that the Association sent to the government following yesterday’s protest in front of the Serbian government building.

The first demand is to stop the practice of financing foreign investors and redirect that money to domestic companies and agriculture, said Milena Amon, the Association’s representative.

“Developing local economy creates additional value. Serbia has great natural resources, so the agriculture and processing industry can be better developed with the state’s support. We have nothing against foreign investments, but we believe that the investors are companies that primarily invest their own money, not the money of Serbian taxpayers. Also, any subsidies for foreign investments should be reserved exclusively for innovative technologies, and not, say, for factories that often pollute the environment,” Ms Amon added.

One of the requests pertains to reducing payroll tax on low salaries. The Association believes that such salaries should not be taxed at 10%. “At the moment, the non-taxable part of the salary stands at 19,300 dinars and we think the non-taxable part should be equivalent to the value of the average consumer basket. This would raise the living standard of people who have low salaries. Montenegro did this and has increased the non-taxable part of salaries from 250 to 450 euros,” Milena Amon points out.

Dragan Subotic, the owner of a travel agency in Belgrade, agrees with Ms Amon. He adds that the global crisis started, not one of his former 4 employees stayed in the agency. “Small businesses are in trouble, which is why it is necessary to relax or abolish parafiscal levies and reduce taxes on minimum wages, because the payroll tax rate in Serbia is the highest in Europe, while several EU countries don’t even charge payroll tax. We also expect concrete support for the tourism sector, which is currently lacking. Only the hotel sector has received state assistance twice,” Subotic says, pointing out that first, the pandemic destroyed his business, and now the war in Ukraine.

“I work to survive. I had to lay off four of my employees because our overhead was huge and we had no income. Now, because of the war in Ukraine, most of the Russian tourists who usually come to the Balkans and Serbia this time of the year have cancelled their travel. Airplane tickets are now three times more expensive and no airlines, apart from Air Serbia, fly from Russia to here. Because of this, I have lost about 220,000 euros,” Subotic adds.

(Politika, 30.03.2022)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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