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International Information Centre for Balkan Studies



Demostat-EPS to borrow additional 1 billion Euro

June 27, 2022
In order for the Serbian national power company (EPS) to function smoothly in the coming period it will have to borrow an additional one billion Euro, research and publishing center Demostat learns from sources in the Serbian Government.
The reason why the EPS will have to apply for new loans is the extremely poor financial situation in the company which is due to the disastrous business policy pursued by former company director Milorad Grcic who was forced to resign over this on January 12, 2022. Grcic is an official of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS).
The authorities expect the new company management, with acting director Miroslav Tomasevic at helm, to sort out the chaos that Grcic left behind due to his incompetent and arrogant management. However, this is not possible without a capital injection into EPS, which was reduced to poverty during Grcic’s term in office. Due to poor quality coal, its insufficient quantities and lack of heating oil, last winter season the EPS produced less electricity than planned, Demostat’s source explained.
The plan is for the EPS to borrow 700-800 million Euro from banks. The option that is being considered is for the rest of the money to come in the form of a state subsidy, while there is fear that EPS ownership transformation is taking place so company shares would be pledged in order to secure loans, Demostat said. However, a Demostat source close to EPS says this will not happen but that the government will provide guarantees for the loan.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/demostat-eps-to-borrow-additional-1-billion-euro/

FinMin-Serbia absolutely stable in times of economic crisis

June 27, 2022
Serbian Finance Minister Sinisa Mali said that Serbia is absolutely stable in conditions of global economic crisis and that the debt-to-GDP ratio stands at 52.2 per cent.
Mali told the pro-regime TV Pink that Serbia has approximately 150 billion Dinar (1 Euro – 118 Dinar) in its account and “record high direct investments and foreign exchange and gold reserves”.
“We have these reserves in Serbia so that, if the crisis continues, we can react… I think that we have proved ourselves to be very credible and that we have fulfilled every promise…” Mali said.
The Minister said that, in the past two years, Serbia has been the cumulatively fastest growing economy in Europe and added that 8.8 billion Euro has been allocated from the budget to help the economy.
Mali said Serbia was stable despite all the difficulties and that the negative repercussions of the crisis on the citizens are far less than in other countries.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/finmin-serbia-absolutely-stable-in-times-of-economic-crisis/

Serbia, Romania sign deal to build cross-border highway

June 24, 2022
The governments of Serbia and Romania signed an agreement to build a highway between the Serbian capital and the city of Timisoara, a government press release said.
It said that Serbian Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Minister signed the agreement in Timisoara on Wednesday evening with Romania’s Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Sorin Mihai Grindeanu. Under the agreement the Belgrade – Vatin (Serbia) and Timisoara – Moravica (Romania) highways will be connected.
Momirovic that the new highway means that Belgrade and Timisoara will be only an hour’s drive apart. He said the road is a strategically important corridor for both countries.
Grindeanu said that feasibility studies for the highway will be completed in the fall, adding that the construction job will be awarded next year. He said the highway will be built with European Union financial support.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbia-romania-sign-deal-to-build-cross-border-highway/

Environment report warns of coal plant pollution in WB

June 21, 2022

The Western Balkans are heavily polluted by the coal-powered thermal plants across the region, the CEE Bankwatch Network said in its latest report.

A press release said that in 2021, Western Balkan coal plants flagrantly breached air pollution legislation under the Energy Community Treaty for the fourth year in a row, emitting five times as much sulphur dioxide and 1.8 times as much dust as allowed.

“The entry into force of new legal standards on 1 January 2018 should have brought reductions in deadly air pollution. But the report – Comply or Close – shows that in 2021, dust emissions from coal plants included in the National Emissions Reduction Plans (NERPs) of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia increased compared to previous years, while sulphur dioxide emissions only decreased slightly,” the report said.

The Ugljevik coal plant in Bosnia and Herzegovina emitted the most sulphur dioxide in the region in 2021 – 86 774 tonnes – despite having desulphurisation equipment installed at a cost of EUR 85 million. The highest dust polluter in 2021 was Gacko in Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose emissions more than tripled to 4 960 tonnes in 2021 – more than 16 times as much as allowed by the country’s NERP. The Pljevlja coal plant in Montenegro also breached the Energy Community Treaty in 2021 by operating for more than 20 000 hours from 1 January 2018 without undertaking pollution control investments.

The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina approved an illegal lifetime extension for the Tuzla 4 and Kakanj 5 units and North Macedonia to started up an ancient oil-fired plant again after being in reserve for years to deal with the energy crisis, the report said.

CEE Bankwatch Network brings together environmental and human rights groups in central and eastern Europe.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/environment-report-warns-of-coal-plant-pollution-in-western-balkans/

Minister says half a billion to be invested in Port of Belgrade

June 20, 2022

Serbian Construction, Traffic and Infrastructure Minister Tomislav Momirovic said almost half a billion Euro will be invested in the Port of Belgrade next year.

Speaking during a tour of the port with a delegation of the Antwerp Port Authority, Momirovic said that the investments in the waters sector would include the river ports Bogojevo, Prahovo and Sremska Mitrovica along with investments already launched in the port of Novi Sad, a ministry press release said.

The Antwerp Port Delegation expressed interest in the construction of a new port in the Serbian capital.

The press release recalled that Momirovic visited the Port of Antwerp in February.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/minister-says-half-a-billion-to-be-invested-in-port-of-belgrade/

Dr. Christa Hasenkopf-Air pollution is a massive burden on lifespans in BiH

June 18, 2022

In some parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, “two and a half years are being shaved off of people’s life expectancy” because of air pollution and while data shows some improvement in the country in recent years, maintaining that trend will take “sustained and continued efforts,” Christa Hasenkopf from the University of Chicago told N1.

According to a recent report from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), Bosnia and Herzegovina has the worst air quality in Europe.

Hasenkopf said she visited BiH and experienced the air quality in the country, and that she understands some of the underlying causes for it.

“I was still sad to see the burden on the lifespan of Bosnians. In some parts of the country, two and a half years are being shaved off of people’s life expectancy. In Sarajevo it’s 2.1,” she said.

She said that data shows a trend of improvement between 2015 to 2020 in the country and that “there has been some progress in Bosnia in terms of reduction of PM 2.5, about 17 percent.”

However, she stressed that “it will take sustained and continued efforts to keep that trend.”

Hasenkopf also spoke about the connection between air pollution and climate change, the situation in some of the most endangered areas in the world and about what must be done in order to win the fight against pollution.

Watch the full interview in English in the video above.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/dr-christa-hasenkopf-air-pollution-is-a-massive-burden-on-lifespans-in-bih/

Serbian Statistics Office says inflation reaches double digits

June 13, 2022
The Serbian Republic Statistics Office (RZS) said on Monday that inflation stood at 10.4 percent in May 2022 compared to the same month a year earlier.
It said that food prices rose by 16.2 percent in that period. According to the RZS, coffee prices rose 25 percent, meat prices by 21.3 percent, vegetable prices by 15 percent, cooking oil by 17.5 percent, bread and grains by 16.8 percent, milk, eggs and cheese by 15.4 percent.
The RZS said that vehicle fuel prices rose by 23.2 percent and vehicle maintenance by 19.5 percent.
Newspaper and magazine prices rose by an average of 32 percent over the past year.
Personal product and services prices rose in May compared to April by 1.2 percent. Prices in May compared to April rose from 2.5 percent for transport to 0.1 percent for communications costs.
Compared to December 2021, personal product and services prices rose by 5.6 percent.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-statistics-office-says-inflation-reaches-double-digits/

Serbia’s GDP rises in Q1 2022

May 31, 2022
Serbia’s GDP rose by 4.4 percent in real terms in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period a year earlier, the Republic Statistics Office (RZS) said on Tuesday.
It said that the GDP dropped by 0.5 percent compared to the last quarter of 2021.
Significant growth in real terms was reported in the retail and wholesale industries, vehicle repair, traffic, storage and food and catering (11 percent) and in industry, water supply and waste water management (1.9 percent).
The RZS said that a drop of 5.3 percent in real terms was reported in the construction industry.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-gdp-rises-in-q1-2022/

Energy Minister says Serbia will have to import electricity

May 17, 2022
Mining and Energy Minister Zoran Mihajlovic said on Tuesday that Serbia will have to import electricity next winter.
She told reporters that power imports will be inevitable this year with expectations that the national power company (EPS) will recover by 2023 when Serbia will not need to import electricity. The EPS suffered a major breakdown this winter due to low quality coal and other problems.
The minister said that she feels that electricity prices should be raised but refused to say by how much. She added that some 200,000 impoverished households will be granted lower power prices under a government decree.
Mihajlovic said that contact has been made with Russia to discuss natural gas supplies, adding that those talks will take some time. According to the minister, the better option is to keep the current contract with Russia in place instead of signing a new long-term contract. The minister said that gas prices will not remain at present levels.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/energy-minister-says-serbia-will-have-to-import-electricity/

European Commission forecasts 3.4% growth for Serbian economy

May 16, 2022
The Serbian economy is projected to expand by 3.4 percent this year and by 3.8 percent in 2023, compaed to the strong rebound of 7.4 percent in 2021, the European Commission said on Monday in its Spring 2022 Economic Forecast.
“Growth is expected to be mainly driven by private consumption and investment, but dampened by the economic fallout of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
Inflation is set to peak in mid-2022 to then decelerate as of autumn 2022,” the forecast said adding that the general government deficit and the debt-to-GDP ratio, after decreasing to 4.1% of GDP and 57.1% respectively in 2021, are expected to record further gradual reductions in 2022 and 2023.
It said that the projected economic growth will mainly be driven by increases in private consumption and investment that are expected to outweigh the small negative contribution of net exports to growth and warned that the economic fallout of the war in Ukraine is expected to affect growth through higher commodity prices and reduced trade dynamics with Serbia’s main European Union trade partners.
“GDP growth in 2023 is projected to be mostly driven by private consumption and investment as well as an improving contribution of net exports due to increased export capacity supported by recent foreign direct investment in the tradeable sector,” the forecast said and added that the current account deficit is expected to rise substantially in 2022, mainly due to the higher cost of energy imports, and to broadly stabilise in 2023.
Serbia’s unemployment rate is expected to resume a gradual decline in 2022 and 2023.
Inflation reached 9.1% in March 2022 and is projected to peak in the middle of the year and is expected to decelerate as of autumn 2022.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/european-commission-forecasts-3-4-growth-for-serbian-economy/

Serbian-owned ship sinks with load of Russian coal in Romania

May 11, 2022
A Serbian-owned ship carrying 1,500 tons of coal from Russia sank in the Romanian port of Constanta, the tylaz.net portal reported on Wednesday.
The portal said that the ship was loaded in the port and was meant to join a convoy bound for the Danube-Black Sea canal when it started taking on water and sank. “The 1,500 tons of coal belonged to the Russian Federation and were to reach Serbia,” it said.
The Serbian power company (EPS) issued a statement saying that the coal that sank in Romania was not intended for its power plants.
“The Romanian Naval Authority ordered an investigation into the cause of the sinking,” the portal said.
The Digi24 Romanian-language portal said that the ship was registered in Germany and had a Serbian owner.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-owned-ship-sinks-with-load-of-russian-coal-in-romania/

Serbian, Chinese companies sign solar power plant deal

May 4, 2022

Fintel Energy and the MK Group signed a memorandum of Understanding with PowerChina to build a solar power plant in the north of Serbia on Wednesday.

The Agrosolar project is a 340 million Euro investment, a press release said adding that the 660 megawatt power plant outside the town of Kula will cover an area of 770 hectares with a planned annual production of some 830 gigawatt hours of power, covering the needs of some 200,000 households. The project will allow the production of power from the solar plant with sustainable farming under the solar panels.

The press release said this is the first project of its kind in the Balkans and will be the biggest in Europe. “The agreement defines the clear interest of both sides in the biggest agrosolar project in Europe including the construction of a pilot solar park of 50 kilowatts in the next three months,” it said.

Fintel Energy and MK Group opened the 9.9 megawatt Kula windfarm in 2015 and the 6.6 megawatt La Piccolina wind farm in 2016 along with the 69 megawatt Kosava windfarm in Izbiste in 2019.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-chinese-companies-sign-solar-power-plant-deal/

Labour Ministry: Unemployment rate in Serbia at an all-time low of 9.8 pct

April 29, 2022

The unemployment rate in Serbia is at an all-time low of 9.8 percent and the Government's strategic goal for the future will remain the better status of workers, higher salaries and improved protection of employees' rights as well as the opening of new factories and jobs, said the Ministry of Labour of Serbia.

On the occasion of May 1, the International Labour Day, the ministry said that one of its priorities in the upcoming period will be creating a better business environment.

„Only with the joint efforts of workers, employers and the state, Serbia can continue to record such results and keep the economy at an even higher level, leading to further strengthening of Serbia, which will be an even better place for all citizens to live in,” said the ministry.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/labour-ministry-unemployment-rate-in-serbia-at-an-all-time-low-of-9-8-pct/

Elon Musk’s Tesla interested in Serbian water bottling company

April 26, 2022
The biznis.rs portal said on Tuesday that Elon Musk’s Tesla has expressed an interest in a Serbian mineral water bottling company.
It said that Tesla Motors contacted the Minakva water bottling company with a cooperation proposal. “Yes, Tesla has expressed interest in writing for cooperation with our company which would include the acquisition of part of the company,” Minakva’s Tatjana Malbasa told biznis.rs.
She said that Minakva will give the offer serious consideration and is preparing water samples to be sent to Tesla. She said that several other European companies have contacted the Serbian water bottling company.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/elon-musks-tesla-interested-in-serbian-water-bottling-company/

M.T. Abraham investing €32m in solar energy production at Aluminij Mostar

April 22, 2022
The Israeli M.T. Abraham Group has announced an investment of €32 million in electricity production using solar power to reduce production costs at its Mostar-based subsidiary Aluminij.
Aluminij said that with the investment in a solar photovoltaic power station the Israeli group would meet the electricity needs of the Aluminij smelter. The solar power station would produce more than 68,000 MWh annually, which is enough for Aluminij's needs, it said.
The Mostar area of southern Bosnia and Herzegovina has more than 280 sunny days a year and large unused areas, which makes the installation of solar photovoltaic power stations for the production of electricity and heating energy cost-effective.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/m-t-abraham-investing-e32m-in-solar-energy-production-at-aluminij-mostar/

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