Digitalization, energy and health are key areas for economic growth in Serbia in the coming period

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The State Secretary of the Ministry of Finance of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, Gojko Stanivukovic, opened the introductory meeting which begins the eighth cycle of coordination of economic policies with the European Union – the European semester “Light”.
The meeting is dedicated to the beginning of the development of a new document of the Economic Reform Program (ERP) for the period from 2022 to 2024, based on the guidelines of the European Commission and strategic documents and policies of the Government of Serbia.
Stanivukovic emphasized that a selection of priority structural reforms and measures for the next three-year period awaits us, which show the most important directions of actions, priorities and efforts of the Government to improve the economic environment and quality of life of citizens.
In this cycle, we expect to innovate a larger number of areas through new structural reforms, bearing in mind that the Government has already started numerous initiatives, especially in the field of digitalization, energy and the environment, said the Secretary of State.
He explained that the document is crucial not only for Chapter 17 – Economic and Monetary Policy, in the context of meeting the economic criteria for EU membership, but also for other chapters, bearing in mind that priority structural reforms and measures thematically cover all areas of economic policy and good governance.
This confirms the importance of the ERA as a strategic basis for programming EU assistance, which is especially insisted on by the European Commission in this cycle. As before, it is necessary for the ERP to be harmonized with the Fiscal Strategy and the Law on the Budget of the Republic of Serbia, since it is crucial to provide adequate financing for structural reforms, Stanivukovic pointed out.
The Secretary of State emphasized that obstacles to economic growth should be identified in the creation of reforms and measures, which could be more pronounced due to the pandemic, but also pay attention to further improvement of competitiveness and labor market through further improvement of regulatory environment, energy sector, green and digital transition.
Also, as he added, the health care system is a key area, given the impact that health and resilience of health systems can have on the economy.
According to him, efforts will continue on the development of good governance, digitalization process, modernization of the Tax Administration, further improvement of the business environment and suppression of the gray economy, as well as support for green, energy efficient and inclusive growth.
Stanivuković pointed out that the experience and involvement of all actors, from economic policy makers to the end users of reform measures, is of great importance when defining priority reforms.
Bearing in mind that the European semester of “light” coordination of economic policies is ongoing, the consultation process is not interrupted. All the exchanged information from the previous cycle is relevant for the beginning of the new one, said the state secretary.
He also referred to the economic indicators that provide a favorable environment for the implementation of structural reforms, adding that the intensive recovery of economic activities in the second half of last year enabled the fall in GDP in 2020 to be only 1%.
According to him, at the end of 2020, the net inflow of foreign direct investment reached the level of approximately 3 billion euros, public debt was 58.2%, while the unemployment rate was at the level before the pandemic.
The Secretary of State noted that this year’s GDP growth in the first quarter was 1.7%, while in the second quarter it is expected to grow between 12 and 15%.
Stanivukovic stated that real GDP growth of 6% is projected for 2021, with a further increase in state capital spending to 7.2% of GDP.
For this year, we can expect growth of 7% of GDP, he pointed out and reminded that in the first half of the year we attracted 1.72 billion euros in foreign direct investment, which is 19% more than last year, and public debt will remain below 60% by the end of the year, which is according to the Maastricht criteria.
He said that at the meeting of the EU Economic and Financial Dialogue with the Western Balkans and Turkey, held on July 12, ECOFIN representatives called for efficient and continuous implementation of the economic support package, use of the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans and agreed on new recommendation for Serbia and other participants.
When it comes to the Program of Economic Reforms for the period 2021-2023, Stanivukovic pointed out that European partners praised economic policies that gave good results in Serbia and an efficient response to challenges, but also submission of documents on time, good coordination process and public debate.
The Program of Economic Reforms is developed by the Republic of Serbia on an annual basis for the next medium-term period in order to ensure sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
The meeting was attended by members of the Working Group for drafting and monitoring the implementation of the Economic Reform Program, which is participating in the drafting of this document, representatives of the EU Delegation to Serbia, as well as representatives of the Serbian Parliament, civil society, professionals, business community and social partners, eKapija reports.