International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Public debt in Serbia 53.5 pct of GDP by end of February

April 07, 2021

At the end of February, Serbia's public debt was 27 billion Euro or 53.5 percent of GDP, Finance Ministry said on Wednesday.

According to the Ministry’s website, a month earlier, it was 53.7 percent of GDP or 27.14 billion Euro.

At the end of 2020, the country’s public debt was 26.66 billion Euro or 57.4 percent of GDP.

On Tuesday, the Ministry said that in the first two months of this year, a republic budget’s surplus was nearly 64 million Euro.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-public-debt-by-end-of-february-53-5-pct-of-gdp/

World Bank projects 5 percent growth for Serbia

April 01, 2021

The World Bank is projecting a growth of 5 percent of the GDP for Serbia this year, the Beta news agency said on Thursday.

Serbia’s economic growth in 2021 and 2022 will be higher than predicted early this year but the economy continues to face risks, the World Bank report said. It said that Serbia is expected to recover from the pandemic recession this year helped greatly by the recently announced new package of aid to the population and the economy which is worth 5.1 percent of the GDP. According to the report, Serbia’s GDP is expected to grow by 1.9 percentage points more than predicted in January and should see a growth of 3.7 percent in 2022 or 0.3 percentage points more than predicted earlier. It said that the Serbian GDP should grow by 3.9 percent in 2023.

The World Bank said that the Serbian economy’s medium-term prospects will depend on international developments, including the coronavirus pandemic, pace of structural reforms, and political developments. It said that the immediate focus should be on measures to improve the business environment and cut down business costs and provide security as well as improving infrastructure quality.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/world-bank-projects-5-percent-growth-for-serbia/

Average gross salary in Serbia in January € 740

March 25, 2021

The average gross salary in Serbia in January was 740.81 Euro (87,058 Dinars), while the average net wage amounted to 537.63 Euro (63,109 Dinars), the Republic Statistical Office (RZS) said on Thursday.

Compared with the same month of the previous year, the average gross earnings were nominally higher by 5.1 percent, and realistically by four percent, while net earnings were higher by 5.3 percent nominally, or 4.2 percent in real terms.

The medium net salary for January this year was 408.40 Euro (48,000 Dinars).

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/average-gross-salary-in-serbia-in-january-e-740/

‘Quarterly Monitor’: Serbia’s GDP growth 3-4 instead predicted 6 pct in 2021

March 23, 2021

Serbia's GDP growth in 2021 could be between three and four percent, the editor-in-chief of the economic publication "Quarterly Monitor", Milojko Arsic predicted on Tuesday, adding that "a smaller decline in 2020 increased the base with which the results from 2021 will be compared."

„It can now be seen that the epidemic and restrictions will be somewhat longer, and the recovery of European economies slower,“ he said, adding that meant the projected growth of the Government of Serbia of six percent could not be expected.

„The new anti-crisis package, planned in the first half of 2021, will increase public expenditures by about a billion Euros, so the fiscal deficit this year could increase to five or six percent of GDP, instead of the planned three percent,“ Arsic said.

He added that „it would be economically justified and fiscally responsible for focusing new anti-crisis measures only on citizens and companies that are strongly affected by the pandemic, instead of continuing non-selective programs.“

In 2021, according to him, public debt will continue to grow to nearly 30 billion Euros, while the share in GDP will probably exceed the level of 60 percent.

In the EU countries, the average drop in GDP was 6.2 percent, and only four European countries had a smaller drop than Serbia – Ireland, Norway, Lithuania, and Turkey, Arsic said

According to him, the growth of unemployment will be gradual and last for a year or two after the pandemic.

Wages in the private and public sector in Serbia, as he said, had a high, largely seasonal, growth in December 2020, after the 11-month stagnation.

„In 2020, foreign trade was reduced, so the deficit is slightly below two billion Euros, or 4.3 percent of GDP. It was about 1.1 billion Euro lower than in 2019,“ he said.

Arsic added the prices of imported products, primarily oil, have dropped significantly, while the prices of exported goods like agricultural products and metals have increased. That had affected the reduction of the foreign trade deficit.

He said the foreign direct investment fell by 20 percent in 2020 but was nonetheless more than enough to cover the current account deficit.

Arsic added the public debt at the end of 2020 reached 26.7 billion Euro or 57.4 percent of GDP, and with the included unguaranteed debt of local governments, it exceeded 58 percent of GDP.

„The growth of public debt in 2020 was significantly lower than the fiscal deficit, due to the strengthening of the Dinar against the Dollar, as well as because revenues from concessions and privatization financed part of the deficit,“ Arsic said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/quarterly-monitor-serbias-gdp-growth-3-4-instead-predicted-6-pct-in-2021/

Serbia’s Komercijalna Bank accepts Slovenian NLB takeover

March 22, 2021

The new Management and Executive boards of Komercijalna Banka said on Monday they fully supported the offer of Nova Ljubljanska Banka d.d., NLB, at a price in line with the legal regulations.

NLB purchased 83.23 percent of the Komercijalna shares in December 2020 for 394,7 million Euro, after an agreement between Serbia and the Slovenian banking group signed on February 26 last year

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-komercijalna-bank-accepts-slovenian-nlb-takeover/

World Bank approves financing for Serbian railway modernization

March 18, 2021

The World Bank said on Thursday that it had approved 62.5 million dollars to finance the first stage of the project to modernize the Serbian railway system.

“Serbia is intensifying its focus on infrastructure development by increasing the safety, efficiency, environmental sustainability, and regional connectivity of its railway through an upgrade of 3,735 km of this network. Phase 1 of the Multi-Phase Programmatic Approach for Serbia Railway Sector Modernization Project was approved today by the World Bank Board of Directors, providing $62.5 million of the program’s overall financing envelope of $400 million,” a press release said.

It added that the World Bank is working with the French Development Agency to jointly co-finance Phase 1 of the project, bringing the total investment for this phase to 125 million Dollars.

The press release quoted World Bank Country Manager for Serbia Stephen Ndegwa as saying that “Serbia’s rail network is a major asset for the country with the potential to play a strategic role in the nation’s growth and job opportunities”. “The program will lead to better quality infrastructure, improved safety, enhanced in-country and regional integration, accelerated economic growth, and an improved business environment in the region… A renewed and modernized rail network will become an essential part of transforming multi-modal transport in the country and the program is fully aligned with Serbia’s European Union accession agenda, including its commitment to the EU’s Green Deal and climate neutrality, which envisions a 90 percent reduction in transport emissions,” he said.

The press release said that the program focuses on three key outcomes: an increase in network utilization of 5 percent; a reduction of fatalities on the rail network by 23 percent; and a 10 percent increase in the market share of national cargo rail over the next 10 years.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/world-bank-approves-financing-for-serbian-railway-modernization/

Bosnia and Herzegovina awarded #SafeTravels destination stamp

March 17, 2021

Bosnia and Herzegovina was awarded by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) the #SafeTravels destination stamp, after adopting the organisation's Covid-19 guidebook and guidelines, which contain steps and actions in the tourism industry during the pandemic, the Environment and Tourism Ministry of Bosnia's Federation entity said on Wednesday.

Alongside other countries across the world, Bosnia is also facing a difficult situation in terms of the surge in new Covid-19 cases, which affects all business entities dealing with tourism, said the statement.

The ministry stressed the #SafeTravels stamp proves Bosnia's resoluteness to take a position on the international market and to follow international trends in tourism. This is the first but crucial step in reaching the recovery of the tourism industry and restoring the trust of international travelers.

The FBiH Ministry of Environment and Tourism thanked the US Agency for International Development (USAID) on its ‘Tourism’ project, which provided assistance to the authorities at all levels in Bosnia and Herzegovina in drafting, developing, and adopting of essential protocols, which enabled the country to be awarded the SafeTravels stamp.

WTTC is made up of members from the global business community and works with governments to raise awareness about the travel and tourism industry. It is known for being the only forum to represent the private sector in all parts of the industry worldwide.

The organization created the SafeTravels Stamp for travelers to recognize destinations and businesses around the world which have adopted the SafeTravels health and hygiene global standardized protocols.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bosnia-and-herzegovina-awarded-safetravels-destination-stamp/

Energy Community initiates dispute settlement procedures against Serbia

March 16, 2021

The Energy Community Secretariat launched on Tuesday dispute settlement procedures against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia for not meeting their National Emission Reduction Plans, NERP, ceilings for the reporting years 2018 and 2019, the Community said in a statement.

NERPs are an instrument to comply with the Large Combustion Plants Directive, and as such, they are to provide for emission reductions for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust for the group of plants covered by their scope.

In Serbia, the statement said, the compliance with the ceiling for sulfur dioxide presents the biggest challenge. At the same time, North Macedonia faces problems with ceilings for sulfur dioxide and dust. Bosnia and
Herzegovina and Kosovo failed to meet the ceilings for all three pollutants.

By sending the Opening Letters, the Secretariat said it initiated a preliminary procedure to allow the countries to react to non-compliance with Energy Community law within two months and enable the Secretariat to establish the case’s entire background.

According to Articles 7 and 17 of the Rules of Procedure for Dispute Settlement, the countries may be granted access to the case file. They may submit written observations on the present case to the Secretariat during the preliminary procedure.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/energy-community-initiates-dispute-settlement-procedures-against-serbia/

Serbia, Republika Srpska to build gas pipeline

March 16, 2021

Srbijagas and the Gas-Res companies signed an agreement in Banja Luka on Tuesday to build a gas interconnection between Serbia and the Republika Srpska in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The interconnection will link the gas pipeline system in Bosnia-Herzegovina to Serbia and the Balkan Stream pipeline. The interconnection will go from Serbia into Bosnia-Herzegovina via Bijeljina, Banja Luka, Prijedor, and Novigrad, the Serbian state-owned Srbijagas company said, adding that the new pipeline will be 90 kilometers long in Serbia and 320 kilometers in the Republika Srpska with a planned capacity of 1.2 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year.

The agreement was signed by Srbijagas CEO Dusan Bajatovic and Gas-Res CEO Djuro Glamocic with Republika Srpska Energy and Mining Minister Petar Djokic Present. Bajatovic (Socialist Party of Serbia – SPS) and the management of Srbijagas have been fiercely criticized by Serbian Mining and Energy Minister Zorana Mihajlovic (Serbian Progressive Party – SNS) who was not present at the signing.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbia-republika-srpska-to-build-gas-pipeline/

Agriculture minister says Serbia has opportunity for food exports to UAE

March 11, 2021

Agriculture Minister Branislav Nedimovic said in Abu Dhabi on Thursday that the United Arab Emirates have invested some 400 million Dollars in Serbia to date.

A press release quoted him as saying that the Serbian agriculture industry has an opportunity to export its products to the UAE because the country only meets 25 percent of its needs on its own. He added that exports of cattle feed and pet food totaled 125 million Euro in 2020. According to Nedimovic, Serbia could export fruit, honey, cheese, pasta and corn to the UAE.

The minister is part of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s entourage on the visit to the UAE and Bahrein. Nedimovic told reporters that his UAE counterparts offered to become “a logistic hub for the export of Serbia’s products to the richest countries of the Persian Gulf – Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia”.

Speaking earlier, President Vucic said that Serbian wants to expand into the Arab market with agriculture products. “From Belgrade Waterfront to the agriculture combine Al Dahra which is preparing for new investments,” he said and added that he will try to create a new green agenda for Serbia in talks on investments in renewable energy sources with companies from Arab countries.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/agriculture-minister-says-serbia-has-opportunity-for-food-exports-to-uae/

300 tons of illegal Italian waste finally getting removed from Drvar, Bosnia

March 11, 2021

The removal of some 300 tons of illegally imported Italian waste from the Bosnian town of Drvar is underway, Srna news agency reported Thursday.

„Fourteen lorries of waste need to be driven out, which is as many lories shipped the waste in, but we may need even more lories due to the waste’s volume,” Drvar Mayor Dusica Runic told Srna news agency.

A total of 14 lorries had imported some 300 tons of waste from Italy, in July last year, and dumped it in the property of the former company “Grmec,” without ever obtaining a permit for it.

Runic stated that one lorry drove off on Wednesday and that the removal continues Thursday. She pointed out that the deadline for the execution of works is still running – 120 days from the end of December, expressing hope that the contractor will respect the undertaken obligations by the end of the agreed deadline.

At the beginning of July, “Krom reciklaza” company from Drvar imported a total of 294,574 kilograms of textile waste in BiH worth 16,125 Bosnian marks (some €8,000). Most of that waste was dumped in Drvar in the area of the former company “Grmec.”

A part of the waste was dumped in Bosanski Grahovo, and two lorries were dumped in Bihac.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/300-tons-of-illegal-italian-waste-finally-getting-removed-from-drvar-bosnia/

Expansion of Tuzla International Airport begins

March 11, 2021

The construction of the atrium at the Tuzla International Airport has begun. It is a new facility that will be located in the northern part of the airport complex, connected by a canopy with the main entrance-exit to the Passenger Terminal, and will serve the needs of passengers in departure and arrival, the Airport said Thursday.

“Considering that all administrative procedures have been completed, in order to achieve even more significant relief of the passenger terminal, the construction of the atrium has finally begun. The total contracted value of construction works is 1,678,941 Bosnian marks (some €800,000). The tender procedure for the construction has been completed, and contractors have been selected for certain types of works,” the Tuzla International Airport said.

The atrium will cover an area of 604.84 square meters and it will house all car rental agencies, souvenir shops, travel agencies, and accompanying prefabricated buildings that are currently located within the passenger terminal.
The construction deadline is 16 months.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/expansion-of-tuzla-international-airport-begins/

Serbia’s public debt € 27.14 billion in January

March 9, 2021

Serbia's public debt at the end of January was 27.14 billion Euro or 53.7 percent of the country's GDP, the Finance Ministry said on Tuesday.

At the end of 2020, it was  26.66 billion Euro or 57.5 percent of the GDP.
A year before, the country’s public debt was 23.94 billion Euro or 52 percent of the GDP.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-public-debt-e-27-14-billion-in-january/

Serbian central bank planning to issue joint DinaCard-UnionPay card

March 4, 2021

The National Bank of Serbia (NBS) said on Thursday that it is planning to issue a joint DinaCard-UnionPay card which will be accepted in 175 countries and territories covered by the Chinese financial services corporation.

The Chinese UnionPay is the largest card payment organization in the world with transactions totaling more than Visa or Mastercard.

A press release said that the pilot project to issue the joint Serbian-Chinese cards is planned for the last quarter of 2021. According to the NBS, the new card will be accepted in the UnionPay global network which covers 175 countries and territories.

It said that the UnionPay card is accepted in Serbia at every Banca Intesa Banka, Postanska Stedionica and OTP Bank ATM and at most UniCredit Bank ATMs.

“The acceptance of UnionPay cards in our country is a result of the cooperation between the NBS and the largest global card system UnionPay International,” the press release said adding that the Chinese cards will be accepted in the entire network of the Serbian national DinaCard.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-central-bank-planning-to-issue-joint-dinacard-unionpay-card/

Warning strike at JAT Tehnika aircraft maintenance company

March 1, 2021

Staff at the JAT Tehnika aircraft maintenance company staged an hour-long warning strike on Monday to protest “the arrogance of the management and illegal signing of a collective contract”.

The Nova.rs portal said that the strikers will decide on future steps following a reaction from the management.

JAT Tehnika was taken over late last year by Avia Prime. The Serbian Ministry of the Economy said in December that the company was sold for 10.3 million euros. Avia Prime also owns the aircraft maintenance companies Linetech in Poland and Adria Prime in Slovenia.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/warning-strike-at-jat-tehnika-aircraft-maintenance-company/

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