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Serbia, Big opportunities for foreigners

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When South Korea embarked on economic reforms, it first turned to its businessmen and long-term economic goals with a strong crackdown on corruption. In our country, unfortunately, the domestic economy and businessmen are neglected. Foreigners still “spend” more than 85 percent of state subsidies, which is why domestic businessmen invest less and less in Serbia, and more and more in the surrounding markets

Corona, the war in Ukraine and the threat of economic and financial sanctions. On the other hand, recession, massive inflation with rapid growth in interest rates, which will lead to a decrease in investment, economic activity, layoffs and a debt crisis.

When South Korea embarked on its strategic economic reforms, it first turned to its businessmen, its resources and its long-term economic goals with a strong crackdown on corruption. Unfortunately, “not even the threatening circumstances” taught us that it can no longer be the same. The scandal with EPS, the statement of the President of Serbia that the public sector cannot be a party fiefdom, with party cadres aiming to satisfy their (party and personal) interests, did not bring us the necessary changes. Where are the party’s inexperienced and professional ministers today? Where are the competitions for the most capable managers in the public sector?

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Therefore, corruption does not stop. Public works, public procurement, domestic construction, legalization, etc. they cannot do without that greatest evil. The assessment of the social damage of corruption is between one and a half and two billion euros per year. Why were hundreds of thousands of properly registered objects not legalized? How much less is there in the budget for millions of untaxed square meters? Here, to mention a personal example, after a full 17 years, only on December 15, 2022, I received a decision on the legalization of the house, in addition to the legal, properly done reconstruction and all building permits. Of course, in the meantime the documentation went through many “unsaturated drawers”. Similar is the case with land conversion. Where do the billions of euros in new real estate come from (only in the last quarter of last year, 2.4 billion euros were invested in real estate), of which 80 percent in cash, and foreign currency savings intact?!

The domestic economy and businessmen are neglected. We constantly hear pre-election promises about changing the policy towards domestic businessmen, while foreigners still “spend” more than 85 percent of state subsidies. This led to a continuous decline in domestic investments and increased the investment of domestic businessmen in the surrounding markets. The coming economic tsunami and world economic realignment will show our strategic failure towards domestic investors.

Has anyone ever calculated the effects of certain foreign investments in relation to given subsidies and informed the taxpayers who paid for it?

Let’s take a look at the state of agriculture, Serbia’s great strategic resource. Today we have about a million uncultivated hectares, irrigation of only 1.5 percent of arable land, massacred livestock with large imports of both meat and milk. The agricultural potential, which can feed fifty million people in the world and at least five times increase the income from exports, has been totally neglected. For years, no expert in the country has been able to get to grips with this Serbian treasure.

And finally about domestic resources. I have always been a supporter that strategic resources must be under majority domestic control. That the biggest benefit from that is Serbia, not foreigners. Today, bearing in mind the war in Ukraine, and the possible consequences for the world economy, I am even more convinced of this. NIS in majority Russian ownership, Bor in majority Chinese ownership, and EPS and gro future renewable energy sources in preparation for foreign capital. It is a special pity for Bor, because the Chinese interest could have been satisfied through a management contract (when our country is not capable of organizing itself for that) and that all market surplus copper can go to China. Today, the situation is that with the future production of 180,000 tons of copper per year, based on today’s prices, the profit will be about one billion dollars, and at the same time the lowest possible mining rent is paid, while we brag about buying our Serbian gold from the Chinese.

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If we continue like this, with the treatment of domestic resources, the treatment of domestic businessmen, the subsidization of foreigners and the appointment of inexperienced people without a strategy at the head of key state enterprises, the question of another autonomy of the country will quickly arise, and that is economic.

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