Stability is the key word for all participants and stakeholders of public and political life, says National Bank of Serbia (NBS) Governor Jorgovanka Tabakovic.
It is also “the key characteristic of what has been done in reform activities over the past three years,” she told the Kopaonik Business Forum.
If one successful year can be called a coincidence, that cannot be said of two consecutive successful years, let alone three, Tabakovic said at a plenary session of the Forum, entitled, “Government achievements, problems and solutions.”
She said that Serbia has chosen the path of sustainable development, “and will follow it.”
According to the governor, citizens’ hard currency savings exceeded nine billion euros for the first time in January this year.
Inflation was 1.6 percent in 2016, Tabakovic added, while the same year saw the lowest level on non-performing loans in the past six years.
Serbia’s public debt-to-GDP ratio is on a downward trajectory and we are on the verge of reducing it to below 70 percent, Finance Minister Dusan Vujovic said, addressing the forum.
“We thought we would never get below 70percent , but now… our projection is that will be at the Maastricht level of 60 percent by 2020,” Vujovic said.
The minister said that the planned budget deficit for 2016 was four percent of GDP, but in the end amounted to 1.4 percent. According to him, this was helped by favorable circumstances – “but we must not count on that in the future.”
Companies have helped improve fiscal performance, there is an effect in the private sector, and we have lower spending, Vujovic stated, and jokingly paraphrased a line from a movie to say, “each year in every respect our performance is better and better.”
Addressing the Forum later in the day, President of the Fiscal Council Pavle Petrovic took issue with Vujovic’s remark, to say:
“The public sector rationalization has not achieved nearly enough during the last two years, and that is where, on the spending side, things have not been better and better every day.”
In a document presented on Monday, ahead of the start of the gathering held at the Mt. Kopaonik resort, the Fiscal Council said that the Serbian government “practically achieved, or even exceeded, the 2015-2017 fiscal consolidation targets.”
The government had planned to reduce the fiscal deficit from 6.6 percent of GDP in 2014 to 3.8 percent of GDP in 2017 to stabilize the public debt-to-GDP ratio at about 78 percent of GDP at the end of the period, the Council said.
Also speaking ahead of the opening ceremony of the event, dubbed “the Serbian Davos,” Association of Economists President Aleksandar Vlahovic expects the 2017 Kopaonik Business Forum to be “the most successful ever, and its conclusions will be seriously considered by the government and the National Bank of Serbia.”
Vlahovic told Tanjug that this year’s event was “aptly titled” – “What can be learned from the past, and what are the solutions for the future?”