Kopaonik Business Forum: Pinpointing reforms in Serbia

Reforms did bring some prosperity to Serbia – this is what the participants of one of the panel discussion at the 24th Kopaonik Business Forum agreed on.

However, what they disagreed on was the pace and the importance of further reforms needed for the conclusion of the process of the recovery of public finances, and for the current situation in the Serbian economy and the living standard of people in Serbia to improve.

“If one successful year can be called a coincidence, that cannot be said for two even three consecutive years. Serbia has chosen to remain on the path of sustainable growth. For instance, the foreign currency savings of Serbian citizens in January this year exceeded 9 billion EUR”, said the Governor of the National Bank of Serbia, Jorgovanka Tabakovic at the Forum.

Serbian Finance Minister, Dusan Vujovic said that, in the last two years, Serbia recorded much better results than planned. “I have carefully read through the IMF report. Serbia has been constantly recording economic growth. Our country shows a stable increase in long-term fiscal performances”, Vujovic said and added that the expected growth this year was between 3% and 3.5%.

The Finance Minister goes on to say that the public debt is stagnating and that it is realistic to expect that, by 2020, its share in the national GDP will be in line with the Maastricht Treaty indicators, namely 60% of GDP.

Speaking about the government increasing state pensions and civil servant salaries, the Finance Minister said that the government would wait for the three-year-arrangement with the IMF to expire (on 31st December) and then see whether conditions are appropriate for an increase in pensions and salaries.

On the other hand, the president of the Fiscal Council, Pavle Petrovic was very critical of the results of the current fiscal consolidation.

“At first, the arrangement with the IMF implied making 75,000 civil servants redundant. The Fiscal Council immediately claimed that that was unjustifiable. Although, 24,000 civil servants with permanent employment were made redundant in the last two years, 7,000 new ones were hired through service contracts. This is not a real reform. This is counterproductive”, Petrovic added.

Implementation of e-government is one of the priorities of Serbian government – said Ana Brnabic, the Minister of State Administration and Local Self-Government, at the Kopaonik Business Forum. As one of the panelists in the discussion about digitalization, she also said that, despite the best intentions, Serbia was still lagging behind between 15 and 20 years in terms implementation of electronic governance.

(Vecernje Novosti, 07.03.2017)


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