Knežević: We are going to complete privatization during government term

Privatization will be completed during this government’s term, and public enterprises will be healthy and stable within two to three years – says Economy Minister Goran Knežević for N1.

He adds that public enterprises like Resavica and Srbijagas will be profitable and that last year saw progress in this area compared to 2014.

He goes on to say that this government’s goal is to maintain peace and stability in the region which is the basis for economic stability.

“The government’s goals are improving business environment, finishing privatization, restructuring of public enterprises, increasing the volume and the size of investments that are coming to Serbia and developing SMEs”, the minister said and added that there were already concrete plans in place to accomplish those goals.

Speaking about small and medium enterprises, he says that the government is aware that there are several issues that are bothering SMEs – like standardization and the quality of their products.

“We are going to teach them how to do this. We are going to give them tools, educate them and give them means to train themselves and devise marketing campaigns. The second issue is the market. We have to find market for their products”, Knežević adds.

“As a state, we need to be a good mediator, to try to secure financial means through a guarantee fund, for example, and to devise less rigid procedures in terms of SMEs having access to financial means”, the minister goes on to say.

He also underlines that over 20,000 new jobs will have been created by the end of the year.

“This year alone, we have already signed agreements stipulating 113-million-EUR worth of investments in our country which translates into 8,500 new jobs. By the year end, we expect another 20,987 new jobs to be created based on the agreements we have concluded and inquiries from foreign investors planning to come to Serbia”, Knežević explains.

Speaking about how much money the state has given in subsidies for new jobs in 2015, he says that he still doesn’t have the exact information but estimates the amount to be in the region of 60 million EUR.

Knežević also underlines that the Investment Law, which stipulates the same treatment for domestic and foreign investors, says that subsidies are equally available to domestic and foreign investors.

He goes on to say that there are certain limits in place like employment criteria, and that different formula is applied to different municipalities which are divided into five zones subsidies-wise.

“For now, the limit is set at 3,000 EUR per new job in the most developed municipalities and up to 7,000 EUR in undeveloped and economically devastated areas”, the minister explains.

Knežević adds legal system will improve and that the problem with parafiscal levies for businesses will be resolved.

“There are local self-governments who charge over 70 or even 80 parafiscal levies to businesses”, he says and adds that, together with the Ministry for Local Self-Government, a law will be drafted, probably by the year end, that is going to reduce parafiscal levies to a normal level.

(Blic, 13.09.2016)

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