Serbia has been on a right road to the European Union, but further reforms in economy are needed to secure the country’s leadership in business environment, president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Suma Chakrabarti said in Belgrade on Thursday.
He added the EBRD managed to increase investment to around EUR 500 million per year.
Chakrabarti has been touring the Balkans and, prior to Belgrade, he visited Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Last month the bank’s chief was in Albania, Kosovo* and Montenegro.
In a speech before Serbia’s National Assembly, he said economic integration was a strategic priority for the EBRD. “We see economic integration as a powerful force promoting efficient markets and reform. Internationalism is not a spent force but a critical element in the response to global economic challenges,” he told lawmakers. “It would be a great honour to have Serbia in EU. Serbia has already done an excellent job when it comes to fiscal consolidation, but it needs to continue to rise and be a leader in terms of the business climate.”
At a joint press conference with the country’s prime minister Aleksandar Vučić, Chakrabarti said Serbia now ranks 59th on the World Bank’s Doing Business list, which he describes as great progress, adding that now it is time to continue reforms, restructuring and better management in state-owned enterprises, and to continue the privatizations. EBRD is interested in providing assistance regarding Komercijalna banka a.d. and Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport a.d., he said, praising the country’s continuing progress in the talks with the International Monetary Fund.
Speaking about the environmentally sound development, the EBRD boss said “we are pioneers of a private sector approach to growing the green economy and combatting climate change.”
“In fact, along with boosting our countries’ economic resilience and addressing global challenges such as climate change, promoting economic integration is one of our three strategic priorities”, he added.
Vučić told the media an agreement was reached on mechanisms in order to speed up projects valued at EUR 600 million. EUR 200 million in effective money will be for the Electric Power Industry of Serbia (EPS) and another EUR 200 million for Serbian Railways, he said, pointing out there were more projects coming up. Vučić also told reporters cooperation with the EBRD was very important because it contributes to new investments and the growth of Serbian economy. “We are one of the countries that has the closest and the best cooperation with the bank,” the prime minister underscored. According to him, talks touched important projects that had been initiated and also the private sector, support for small and medium companies, business climate, entrepreneurial spirit and privatization, as well as the debt restructuring of gas company Srbijagas.
Vučić stated public debt would not exceed 73% of the gross domestic product this year, although it had been forecast at 79%. Serbian budget now has a surplus of RSD 31.8 billion (EUR 258.1 million), EUR 950 million more in balance than targeted in the agreement with the IMF, he stressed and added it was possible economic growth will reach up to 3%.