As the EU’s financial arm, the European Investment Bank (EIB) has invested over 5.5 billion euros in the Serbian public and private sectors since 2001.
Dubravka Negre, head of the EIB Regional Representation for the Western Balkans, said this in an interview for Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti, Tanjug is reporting.
The funds went to over 70 capital projects and 300 smaller local projects, Negre said.
Sixteen major projects totaling over one billion euros are currently being implemented, Negre said, adding that the EIB was investing in road and rail infrastructure, energy, health care, education, research and development, etc.
The private sector is quicker as it has a clear goal of making profit, while the public sector is here to raise the level of a service, she responded when asked who was the better client – the government or the private sector.
“The public sector is more inert, which is not only the case in Serbia, but generally as well. I think transition countries must strengthen the capacity, efficiency and transparency of the public sector,” Negre said.
Asked if this meant that the state has been withdrawn funds more slowly, Negre explains that this is happening in the private sector over a year or two, while projects in the public sector take much longer.
“Of course, they are complex and of public importance, a lot of procedures are need to complete them in order to be implemented. If preparatory actions are not well planned, then the withdrawal of funds will be delayed,” Negre said.
According to her, Serbia is currently at 88 percent of withdrawn funds, when statistics are being monitored over the past 10 years.
“I think that this is a very good percentage. I recall that between 2013 and 2016 we had reduced new investments, due to fiscal consolidation in the public sector, but we had continued implementation of the initiated projects. Over the last three years, we paid all 579 million euros for Corridor 10, for construction of a highway to Greece and Bulgaria. The EIB finances the most difficult sections of the highway through Grdelica and Sicevac gorges, which are the most demanding and expensive. Last year it was completed with all payments made on our side,” Negre said.