Serbia’s Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic said Tuesday that Serbia is “an excellent destination for investors” and that the environment for investments to Serbia is better right now than it was a year ago.Addressing the FIC’s conference, the prime minister said the country is in a post-crisis period, and that this year it will record a GDP growth of three percent, which is a good basis for further economic recovery.
Serbia’s Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic said Tuesday that Serbia is “an excellent destination for investors” and that the environment for investments to Serbia is better right now than it was a year ago.
“In any case, Serbia is a better destination for investors right now than it was a year ago,” Cvetkovic told reporters on the sidelines of a conference dubbed “Reality Check” and dedicated to the implementation of economic reforms and improving the business environment in Serbia.
He could not specify how much foreign money will be coming in by the end of the year, but noted that the sale of Delta Maxi to Belgium’s Delhaize Group is a significant investment.
“Unfortunately, we were unable to close the Telekom deal, but if that had gone through we would have already reached around EUR 2 billion,” the prime minister said.
Addressing the conference, the prime minister said the country is in a post-crisis period, and that this year it will record a GDP growth of three percent, which is a good basis for further economic recovery.
March saw the first positive signals in terms of employment, as a slight rise in jobs was recorded, but it is yet to be seen if this is the start of a new trend, he said.
Cvetkovic underscored that at the moment Serbia’s fiscal policy is fully harmonized with its agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the government is obeying the legal limitations in terms of the budget deficit and public debt.
The prime minister reminded that the Serbian government will start talks Wednesday with IMF representatives on a new precautionary credit arrangement, which should take place over the next two to three months.
He said the government will not consider a VAT increase this year, and probably next year as well, but that the question could be re-opened two years from now.
The prime minister said a budget balancing bill needs to be passed “possibly in June or July.”
President of the Foreign Investors Council Kjell-Morten Johnsen stated that the government should do more to implement the “regulatory guillotine” project, which would help improve the business climate in Serbia.
He assessed that it would be excessive to call Serbia an excellent investment destination, but that it is evident that investors are coming to Serbia.
Serbian Minister of Economy and Regional Development Nebojsa Ciric said that a total of 106 recommendations envisaged by a comprehensive reform of regulations have been implemented so far, which helped the country save between EUR 120 and 130 mlllion.
He recalled that a test model of a new model car should come down the assembly line of Fiat’s factory in Kragujevac at the end of the year, adding that mass production of the car is expected in February or March next year and that exports from just that one factory should amount to between EUR 1.3 and 1.5 billion.
Minister of Environment, Mining and Spatial Planning Oliver Dulic announced that a new regulation, on conversion of land use rights to property rights, should be completed by June 1, and adopted in mid-June.
Head of Delegation of the EU to Serbia Vincent Degert said that Serbia must accelerate the reforms to which it committed itself and recalled the necessity of the implementation of the 96 measures contained in the Action Plan which was adopted late last year.
Degert, however, said that the priority should be given to the quality and not the speed of reforms, as eventually it will only be assessed whether the reforms have been implemented in a good way.
The Reality Check conference, at which representatives of the Serbian government and the Foreign Investors Council discuss key issues for further improvement and development of the business environment in Serbia, was held in Belgrade for the second year in a row, with the aim of initiating an open dialogue on key factors for improving the Serbia’s business environment and of supporting the Serbian government in the transition process relevant both for economy and society as a whole.