At a panel discussion on the Serbian government’s economic priorities, held in the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, the first measures of the government aimed at overcoming the crisis were discussed and priorities in the forthcoming period have been set. It was assessed that stabilization of public finances, public consumption reduction and increase of economic activity and employment were the most important. More by Biljana Blanuša.
Illiquidity is the major problem the Serbian economy has been facing and it results from the lack of financial discipline, said Chamber president Miloš Bugarin. Budget beneficiaries’ debts at the republican and local level have exceeded the amount of 110 billion dinars and debts among companies have been increased as well, he says. It is therefore very important that the first government’s measure is the adoption of a programme of subsidized liquidity loans. In addition to that measure, it is also important to adopt a law on curtailment of claim payment period to 25 days. It is also necessary to apply stricter financial discipline when it comes to all the participants in the market and to establish a more efficient court dispute resolution system, he says.
Energy and Environment Minister Zorana Mihajlović emphasized that the energy sector initiates economic development and therefore measures for its promotion should be taken. The priorities for the forthcoming period will be to increase energy efficiency, to set criteria for the use of renewable energy sources and to attract investments for building energy infrastructure, she said. Serbia has large potentials for the development of renewable energy sources, she emphasized, announcing the simplification of the procedure for issuing licences for building facilities in that field, which is to attack new investors.
The state secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economy, Vlajko Senić, emphasized that measures intended for the agrarian and economic sectors and the payment of the thirteenth pension were necessary although they are to increase budget exepnditures. The government will apply various savings measure and will have to increase VAT and profit tax in order to increase incomes, he said.
The head of the World Bank Office in Belgrade, Loup Brefort, emphasized that the completion of public company restructuring process was important as the budget expenses have been amounting to several billion euros for years. He also supported amendments to the decentralization law as the present framework has enable transfer of funds from te state budget to local self-rules without envisaging the transfer of obligations as well, i.e. in health care and education. The head of the IMF office in Belgrade, Bogdan Lisovolik, said it was very important that the government, through an economic measure programme, provide a balance of incomes and expenditures to prevent deficit growth. He said it was necessary to continue with reforms and announced a visit of an IMF mission to Belgrade in September for the purpose of talks on the establishment of macroeconomic stability.