Prime Minister Ana Brnabic has said that the growth of the Serbian economy has been “excellent.”

In the nine months it reached 4.5 percent of GDP, and and by the end of the year it will be more than 4 percent, Brnabic said, according to remarks published by the Serbian government.

Brnabic was presenting the results of the White Book 2018 of the Foreign Investors Council, saying that the planned economic growth had been 3.5 percent of GDP.

The challenge for us is that this growth will be sustainable and that it continues in 2019 and 2020, Brnabic said.

She expressed the expectation that the surplus in the budget will be 0.6 percent by the end of the year, which is about RSD 28 billion.

“The share of public debt is decreasing and now it is at 56 percent of GDP. We plan to reduce it to 45 percent of GDP, and this requires time and energy,” she added, adding that foreign direct investment exceeded two billion euros.

The prime minister noted that unemployment is falling, inflation is stable, the dinar is stable, while the share of non-performing receivables is reduced to 6.7 percent, from 21.6 percent as at the end of 2015.

“We solved the problem of IMT, we found a strategic partner for RTB Bor, found a partner for PKB and solved the problems of a whole range of companies that were once strong brands of Serbia, and now huge money from the budget, such as Ikarbus, Lasta, BIP or Port of Novi Sad,” she explained.

Brnabic also announced that as of January 1, 2019, the minimum wage will be RSD 155 (equal to EUR 1.31) per hour.

“The Law on Temporary Reduction of Pensions has been abolished, I am satisfied with the results, and we also learned from what happened with the Doing Business List of the World Bank, as well as with this White Book. We are heading in the right direction, but we need to be much faster and more efficient and see what our priorities are,” Brnabic said.

The prime minister “emphasized that she provides full support to the Deputy Prime Minister Zorana Mihajlovic, who runs the Working Group for the Doing Business List,” the government also said.

Also, Brnabic thanked the Foreign Investors Council “for their constructive criticism and the ways in which Serbia can resolve certain issues.”

In the past year, Serbia continued steady but moderate progress in reforms, which secured stability, but was not enough to reach the set goal a fully sustainable and competitive business climate – a strong economy which can match developed markets; and high standard of living, Foreign Investors Council (FIC) President Yana Mikhailova said during the presentation of the White Book 2018, which contains recommendations for improving the business climate in Serbia, Beta agency is reporting.

Mikhailova said that Serbia needed to speed up the reforms and accelerate accession negotiations in order to catch up with the EU level of economic development.

She said that three key FIC expectations from the Government were to achieve sustainable fiscal consolidation (structural reforms, especially privatization and corporatization of state-owned enterprises), improve law implementation, especially in the tax area, and provide more transparency in public consultations with a focus on reforms in eight priority topics.

The topics include: tax, labor, digitization and e-commerce, real-estate and construction, inspections, food safety, and the overall legal framework, with emphasis on regulations on bankruptcy and foreign exchange operations.

According to the FIC Index, which was published in the newest edition of the White Book, in the period between October 2017 and October 2018, the four top performers were: construction land and development; protection of users of financial services; transport; and tobacco industry regulations.

Out of eight priority topics of the FIC-Government White Book Task Force only real estate and inspection control made notable progress.

Digitizationa, bankruptcy, and foreign exchange regulations marked moderate progress, while key areas like tax, labor, and food safety lacked progress.

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