International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

IMF reduces growth projections for Bosnia in this year

October 13, 2021

International Monetary Fund (IMF) reduced the economic growth projections for Bosnia and Herzegovina in this year by 2.8 percent, said the IMF's semi-annual World Economic Outlook report.

The report also forecast 3.2 percent growth in 2022 and three percent for 2026.

The previous report published in April predicted a 3.5 percent growth.

Reportedly, the IMF reduced the growth projections due to the COVID-19 pandemic and disturbances in supply chain.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/imf-reduces-growth-projections-for-bosnia-in-this-year/

Serbian Minister calls Chinese companies to join in infrastructure projects

October 12, 2021

Serbian Mining and Energy Minister Zorana Mihajlovic called Chinese companies to take part in large power industry investment projects.

“I believe that our two countries have a lot of room to cooperate in the energy industry, especially since we know that the green agenda provides almost limitless opportunities for investments, jobs, technological development, improving the environment,” she told an online conference on green energy organized by her ministry, China’s embassy in Belgrade and that country’s National Energy Authority.

She called for continued cooperation between Serbian and Chinese companies with exchanges of experience and partnership in the green transition and green energy projects. The minister said that Serbia is open for cooperation with anyone engaged in the field of renewable energy sources.

According to Mihajlovic, this year marks a turning point for the Serbian energy industry and recalled that new laws have been introduced and strategic documents are being drafted which will define the goals and speed of changes in the energy sector by the year 2050. “Our vision is to have at least 40 percent of our power from renewable sources by 2040 and achieve climate neutrality by 2050. We have a new investment plan for those goals which includes projects worth 17 billion Euro,” she said adding that at least 5 billion of the total will go into renewable energy sources.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-minister-calls-chinese-companies-to-join-in-infrastructure-projects/

President: Gas and energy prices in Serbia won’t go up

October 9, 2021

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told the citizens not to worry about gas or electricity and that during the winter, "they will have warm rooms so that they can walk around in T-shirts."

„There are no problems, we don’t even intend to increase the price of gas and electricity, we can endure everything if we raise the capacities of the electrical system,“ Vucic said after the session of his party leadership.

Vucic said that electricity and gas have become a serious topic in the world and that it is necessary to understand why prices have been disturbed.
As he explained, Serbia kept additional 180 megawatts of electricity in reserve in order to lower the stock market price and help the economy, and for the citizens have the lowest price in Europe.

„We are looking to help entrepreneurs, the problem is that electricity is a commodity, we have to lower the price by reducing demand, to provide larger quantities to have full energy security,“ said Vucic.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/president-gas-and-energy-prices-in-serbia-wont-go-up/

Institute Director: Every $1 of Chinese aid costs Balkan countries $14

October 8, 2021

Every one dollar of Chinese aid costs the Western Balkan countries $14 of new debt, AidData Institute and Willian and Mary University showed in their latest research. Institute Director Brad Parks told N1 on Friday that the Chinese debt now surpasses the amount of the EU and US aid in the region.

On average, China spent some $85 billion on foreign development projects which is over 50 percent more than what the US spent, he said.

Parks noted that China provided just under $7 billion to the Western Balkans region – 88 percent of which was debt and only 12 percent was aid.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/institute-director-every-1-of-chinese-aid-costs-balkan-countries-14/

Serbian PM says IT industry exports to total 1.7 billion Euro in 2021

October 8, 2021

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said that the country’s IT industry exports would total more than 1.7 billion Euro by the end of the year.

She said the IT industry would show profits of about a billion Euro which no other branch of the economy will do.

Speaking at a ceremony for winning projects in the StarTech program, Brnabic said that IT companies reported record services and technology exports worth 171 million Euro in July which, she said, is 56 percent more than in the same month of 2020. She said that exports of IT serices and technology had tripled since July 2016 and the number of people working in the industry had doubled. She added that average salaries in the IT sector were three times the Serbian average, standing at a monthly 175,000 Dinars (1 Euro – 118 Dinars).

“We have to develop entrepreneurship more in future so that we can have more start ups and innovation companies to bring us dynamic growth,” she said, adding that the government allocated just over half a million Euro for the Innovation Fund five years ago and that today the allocated amount is 10.5 million.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-pm-says-it-industry-exports-to-total-1-7-billion-euro-in-2021/

Swiss Barry Callebaut opens chochalate factory in northern Serbia

October 7, 2021

Barry Callebaut, the world's largest single producer of chocolate and cacao, based in Zürich, opened its factory in Serbia's northern city of Novi Sad on Thursday.

It received Serbia’s state subsidies worth 14.2 million euros and would employ over 100 workers.

The building of the facility started in March 2020 and would produce 50,000 tonnes of chocolate annually.

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic, who witnessed the opening ceremony, said the factory would be the largest in South-eastern Europe.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/swiss-barry-callebaut-opens-chochalate-factory-in-northern-serbia/

Serbia’s budget deficit by end August some € 604 million

October 05, 2021

Serbia's budget deficit at the end of August was 70.8 billion dinars (some 604 million euros (1 euro = 118 dinars), the Finance Ministry said on Wednesday.

The deficit’s amount is a result of 955.1 billion dinars in revenues and 1.026 billion dinars expenditures.

The Ministry said that result was better than the forecast in the budget rebalance by 163.9 billion dinars, which envisaged a 234.7 billion dinars deficit for that period.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-august-deficit-e-604-million/

US’ NCR opens technology park Belgrade, its largest in Europe

October 05, 2021

The American company NCR has opened a technology park in Belgrade, its largest campus in Europe, on about 30,000 square meters, in which 100 million dollars have been invested.

A park will also serve as a centre for developing new technologies and a place to meet and exchange ideas of the company and the local community.

On its website, NCR Corporation, previously known as National Cash Register, says it deals with software, managed and professional services, consulting, and technology. It manufactures self-service kiosks, point-of-sale terminals, automated teller machines, check processing systems, and barcode scanners.

The Belgrade technology park will eventually employ over 5,000 engineers, economists, lawyers, philologists, analysts and marketing and communications experts who will create new user experiences for clients worldwide in a modern, functional, energetic, efficient and inspiring work environment.

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic attended the opening ceremony and said that a lot of effort and energy was invested in NCR coming to Serbia, employing almost 5,000 young people, and sending other American investors a message about Serbia being a good place to do business.

NCR started business in the country in 2011, a year before Vucic came to power, and currently employs more than 4,200 people and supports 5,100 clients worldwide.

It is headquartered in Atlanta and has existed for more than 135 years. It operates in 180 countries and has about 36,000 employees.

„So far, NCR has paid five times more money into Serbia’s budget than the subsidies it received, which shows how wise and good the decision was,“ Vucic said.

He added that NCR is the largest American employer in Serbia and one of the largest investors.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/us-ncr-opens-technology-park-belgrade-its-largest-in-europe/

Serbian government uses Eurobond issue to repay 2011 loan

September 28, 2021

The Serbian Finance Ministry said on Tuesday that most of money from the recent Eurobond issue was used to repay a 2011 loan.

A press release said that the Eurobond issue brought in 750 million Euro at an annual interest rate of 2.05 percent and added that 725 million Dollars of that amount was used to repay the old loan which came with an interest rate of 7.25 percent.

It quoted Finance Minister Sinisa Mali as saying that the loan was taken out by the government before his Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) took power, adding that the debt was 700 million Dollars with 25 million in interest. “We took care of that debt from 2011 today… The state was forced to impose difficult fiscal consolidation measures to prevent total collapse,” the minister said.

According to the minister, the money from the Eurobond issue came with better than ever conditions. He said that the country still has to repay loans to European and global financial institutions and foreign governments which were taken out in the 1970s and 1980s at very high interest rates, adding that Serbia will be repaying those debts for another 20 years.

The Serbian opposition has been saying that the country’s foreign debt now stands higher than Yugoslavia’s foreign debt and that the debt limits defined under Serbian law have been exceeded.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-government-uses-eurobond-issue-to-repay-2011-loan/

Average net salary in July in Serbia € 551, half of employed earned € 425

September 24, 2021

According to the country's Statistics Office's statement on Friday, the average net salary in Serbia in July was 551 euros (64,731 dinars), while half of the employees earned 425 euros (49,999 dinars.

The average gross salary was 760 euros 89,330 dinars.

Compared to the same period last year, the net salaries from January to July 2021 rose by 8.5 percent in nominal terms and by six percent in real terms.

„When compared to the same month last year, the average gross salary in July 2021 was nominally higher by 7.6 percent, and by 4.2 percent in real terms, while the net average wage was nominally higher by 7.8 percent, i.e., by 4,4 percent in real terms „, the statement said.

The median net salary for July 2021 was 425 euros (49,999 dinars), which means that 50 percent of employees earned that much per month.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/average-net-salary-in-serbia-in-july-e-551-half-of-employed-earned-e-425/

Serbian government investing 177 million Euro to develop digital infrastructure

September 20, 2021

The Serbian government is planning to invest more than 177 million Euro into the development of digital infrastructure, research and development and the financing of innovative companies.

A press release after the first meeting of the Council For the Development of a Digital Economy said that 177.6 million Euro will be invested in 35 projects. Council chair Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said that her cabinet has five new priorities – “artificial intelligence, biotechnology and biomedicine, smart cities, the future of mobility and the use of geospatial data”.

The Council was told by Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Minister Tatjana Matic that digitalisation has helped double the number of electronic transactions, from €17.8 billion in 2019 to 32.8 billion in 2020 while NALED official Dusan Vasiljevic pointed said that the biggest challenge facing Serbia is securing larger investments in research and development.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-government-investing-177-million-euro-to-develop-digital-infrastructure/

Econ journo: Triple danger of Serbia’s economic cooperation with China

September 20, 2021

Mijat Lakicevic, an economic journalist, warned on Monday about the triple danger of Serbia's economic cooperation with China in huge loans, much higher cost, weak protection of the environment.

The independent experts estimated the loans Belgrade had so far taken from Beijing exceeded 15 billion euro. Besides, Serbia’s export to China in 2020 was about 330 million euros, while the import neared 2,7 billion euros, Lakicevic, an editor with the Belgrade independent Novi Magazin weekly, wrote for the Independence Union website.

„That is by far the largest foreign trade deficit Serbia has with any country,“ Mijatovic said.

At the same time,  „Serbia exports 2.2 billion euro to Germany while the import from that country is 3.1 billion, which is an acceptable foreign trade deficit of 900 million euro.“

Lakicevic said the infrastructure projects done by the Chinese were significantly more expensive than when realised by the international financial institutions.

„The flat section between Surcin and Obrenovac on the motorway between Belgrade and the central town of Cacak costs almost 10 million euros per kilometre. At the same time, in a publication on Corridor 10, published by the Ministry of Transport, the calculation was that constructing a motorway on similar terrain should cost between two to two and a half million euros per kilometre,“ Lakicevic said.

As he explained, the high-speed line Novi Sad-Subotica in the north, built by Chinese companies, cost 900 million euros or nine million euros per kilometre. On the other hand, 110 kilometre-long Nis-Dimitrovgrad railway in the south, financed by European Investment Bank (EIB), cost less than two million euros per kilometre. “

All that showed, Lakicevic said, the Chinese charge 50 percent above the actual price for the same job.

He added that Chinese conditions were significantly more unfavourable than those from the international financial institution’s loans. Also, Chinese companies do not care much about the environment, causing significant pollution in the eastern towns of Smederevo and Bor, where they have industrial plants.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/econ-journo-triple-danger-of-serbias-economic-cooperation-with-china/

Opposition politician says bond issue raises Serbian debt by 1.75 billion Euro

September 17, 2021

An opposition politician warned on Friday that the latest bond issue increases Serbia’s debts by another 1.75 billion Euro.

Dusan Nikezic, the Party of Freedom and Justice (SSP) official covering the economy and finance, said that every household in Serbia now owes another 750 Euro. The National Bank of Serbia said that a dual-tranche of Eurobonds had been issued, including the first ever green bonds worth one billion Euro with a due date of seven years. “The Eurobonds were issued at the lowest ever coupon rate of 1.00% and a yield rate of 1.26% with demand in excess of three billion Euro,” the NBS said adding that Eurobonds in Euro worth 750 million Euro were issued at a coupon rate of 2.05% and 2.3% yield.

Nikezic said that the authorities have increased Serbia’s debts by 15 billion Euro over the past 10 years. “That is more than all the previous governments combined,” he said and warned that the country’s debt would exceed 50 billion Euro or 20,000 Euro per household if the projects contracted by the authorities are realized.

He said the bond issue confirms that there is no money in the budget.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/opposition-politician-says-bond-issue-raises-serbian-debt-by-1-75-billion-euro/

NBS: Serbia issues first ‘green bonds’; Money for environment and debts

September 16, 2021

For the first time in its history, Serbia issued two Eurobonds worth a billion euro (dual-tranche) with a maturity of seven years on the international financial market on Thursday, the National Bank of Serbia (NBS) said.

„This Eurobond was issued at the lowest coupon rate ever of one percent and a yield of 1.26 persnet, with investor demand exceeding 3 billion euros during the auction,“ the Bank said.

It added that „at the same time, a fifteen-year (15G) conventional Eurobond of 750 million euro was issued at a coupon rate of 2.05 percent and a yield rate of 2.3 percent, which is the longest maturity Eurobond issued by Serbia so far. The investors’ demand exceeded the level of 2.5 billion euros.“

„Serbia has become one of the few European countries and the only European country outside the EU that has issued a green instrument, NBS said. It added, „the funds raised will be used exclusively to finance or refinance new and existing expenditures aimed at more sustainable growth of our economy, and through investments in the areas of renewable energy, energy efficiency, transport, sustainable water management and pollution prevention and control.“

Finance Minister Sinisa Mali said most funds raised by the second tranche of the Eurobond would be used in the most urgent area – the repayment of the debts inherited from the past.

He added that they would be used for projects of ‘the green agenda,’ adding that „this is another indicator of Serbia’s commitment to green projects and increasing investment in ecology.“

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/nbs-serbia-issues-first-green-bonds-money-for-environment-and-debts/

Serbian Energy Minister says 5 billion Euro for renewable power sources

September 15, 2021

Serbian Mining and Energy Minister Zoran Mihajlovic said on Wednesday that at least five billion Euro will be invested in renewable energy sources as part of an investment cycle worth 17 billion Euro.

She told a conference on renewable energy that the energy transition process has been launched through laws. “We have to be quick and efficient in terms of de-carbonization regardless of resistance. All the stories about how the energy system will become unstable with more renewable energy sources and being forced to import electricity are not true,” she said.

She said that Serbia is slowly heading towards replacing coal-powered electricity plants and trying to get as many renewable sources as possible and could become an important player in the electricity trade in the region. According to the minister, the new legal framework laid the foundations for a new energy policy which brings a different structure to economic growth and development.

“Our goal is to have at least 40 percent of our power from renewable sources by 2040 and more than 50 percent by 2050. We also expect toxic gas emissions to fall in line with European Union averages in the next 10 years,” Mihajlovic said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-energy-minister-says-5-billion-euro-for-renewable-power-sources/

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