“The IMF’s confirmation of the new arrangement with Serbia is very important news, a validation of the country’s remarkable economic results, as well as the proof that the public finances are consolidated”, Serbian Finance Minister, Sinisa Mali said in an interview.
He told RTS that the arrangement with the IMF was advisory in character, which means that it doesn’t entail any monetary funds, which Serbia doesn’t need at the moment anyway.
“In the first six months, we have a budget surplus of RSD 30.9 billion, which amounts to 1.4% of our GDP, and the plan was to have over 20 billion, which means that we have EUR 450 million more than planned. I would like to remind that, in 2013, the budget deficit amounted to 6.6%”, Mali said.
According to him, the IMF has noticed this and now wants to help the country enhance its economy in a different way.
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“We expect three things from this arrangement – the strengthening of institutions, the strengthening of our economy’s competitiveness and the acceleration and increase of our high growth rate in the years to come”, Mali said.
He reminded of Eurostat’s report on the state of the region, which puts Serbia ahead of not just the countries in the region, but some EU countries as well.
“We have a budget surplus in the first three months of 0.4% of the GDP and the share of the public debt in the GDP is below 60%, whereas the share of Croatia’s public debt in their GDP is 76.2%. In Romania, it is 98%, and in Hungary – 74%. These are official EU statistics, which says that Serbia is fully economically stable”, Mali said.
He added that Serbia had difficult talks with the IMF about increasing civil servant salaries and pensions ahead of it, but that, considering the results, there was room for somehow paying back those who had shouldered the biggest burden of the reforms, but on healthy foundations.
“In September, we will know exactly when and by how much, but these results put Serbia in the leading position in the region”, the finance minister said.
“According to the European Commission’s report, Serbia is the leading country in the region by direct foreign investments. This year, we have 15.8 more direct investments than in the first five months of last year, and last year we were the absolute record holder, “Mali said.
He noted that higher FDI means new jobs, and that according to the EC report, 20,000 jobs were created last year in Serbia.
“We are again the absolute record holder in the region, and these are indicators that give us the right to plan even faster growth rates in the future,” Mali said.
Speaking about work done by the Ministry of Finance, Mali said that he spent 20 years in finance and had the opportunity to use his knowledge and experience to help the society.
“You have the feeling of pride that you are part of the team and that you are changing things for the better. Every conversation with the IMF is difficult. We fight for every investor and for every job. When you know that someone is opening a factory in your country, it gives you a sense of pride that you cannot ignore because we fought for it”, Mali concluded.