In the future, the Serbian Development Agency will be the body that will promote direct investments, higher export and business competitiveness. Over the period of four months the most, the Agency will take over the scope of activities from the Serbian Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SIEPA) and the National Agency for Regional Development (NARD) which will cease to exist.
This is one of the novelties stipulated in the draft Investment Law that was presented to the Serbian MPs on Tuesday.
“The SIEPA and NARR have no sufficient capacity to complete the tasks given to them by the Government. I have tried reforming these agency, help them to reorganize and introduce corporate culture into their operations but all of that was virtually impossible” – said Economy Minister, Željko Sertić.
Investors can count on one out of four types of incentives. These are the state’s assistance, tax incentives and subsidies, custom clearance incentives and incentives relating to the mandatory social insurance. According to this law, foreign investors don’t have to pay customs on importing equipment. Also, retailers are not eligible for state incentives.
The draft law defines six criteria for determining whether an investment is important for national interests. This primarily hinges on the number of new jobs that will be created, the type and the amount of investment, but also how much is this investment going to affect Serbia’s foreign trade balance. Also, the state will consider the length of investment, how much added value is it going to create and the investment’s references.
“We are forming local offices who are going to be at investors’ disposal but we are not going to hire new civil servants or create additional costs as a result of it. Local authorities are the ones to appoint people who are going to be at disposal to investors. The government is also going to form the Economic Development Council which will comprise of the ministers of econom, finance, and labour, the president of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and other ministers”, Sertić explains.
Furthermore, the draft law stipulates a fair compensation for investors who had their business “taken away from them”. Although the law’s text does not clarify who that might be, Minister Sertić says that it refers to the cases where companies have been expropriated.
“It is not the same when a house or a business have been expropriated, and it is not fair only to consider the material value of a facility. We should also consider the damage that a company could suffer if moved to a worse location”, Minister Sertić said.
After a relentless public pressure, the Ministry of Economy gave in and abandoned the idea of putting the government in charge of releasing the information of public interest that relate to investments.
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