International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Serbian government extends food price freeze

January 28, 2022
The Serbian government decided on Friday to keep the prices of some basic foodstuffs frozen for another 90 days.
The prices of sugar, some types of flour, milk, pork and cooking oil were frozen for a 90 day period at the level they were at on November 15, 2021.
A press release said that the decision was taken to protect the market and “prevent the spread of misinformation in the pricing of those goods which are of great importance especially to the poor”.
The government decree limits production prices and retail and wholesale prices, the press release said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-government-extends-food-price-freeze/

Minister says Serbian government earmarked billions for employment policy

January 28, 2022
Serbian Labor Minister Darija Kisic Tepavcevic said on Friday that the government earmarked 6.5 billion Dinars for its active employment policy in 2022.
Speaking after signing an agreement with the National Employment Service, the minister said that the government has the clear goal of improving the labor market, primarily for the most vulnerable segments of the population, raise living standards and move Serbia forward.
Kisic Tepavcevic said that unemployment figures have dropped, adding that active employment policies brought jobs for more than 18,000 people.
National Employment Service chief Zoran Martinovic said that the agreement creates conditions to invite applications for employment programs for both employers and job seekers.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/minister-says-serbian-government-earmarked-billions-for-employment-policy/

Eurostat: Min wages over € 1,500 in 6 EU states; Serbia only ahead of Albania

January 28, 2022
"As of 1 January 2022, 21 out of the 27 EU member states have national minimum wages with Denmark, Italy, Cyprus, Austria, Finland and Sweden the exceptions," and they range from above 1,500 in six countries to below 1,000 euros in 13 of them, according to Eurostat report on Friday.
Serbia stood ahead of the potential candidate Albania’s 401 euros but below North Macedonia’s minimum salary in January 2022, the report said.
„All candidate and potential candidate countries with a national minimum wage belong to group 2, with minimum wage levels ranging from Purchasing Power Standard (PPS) 401 in Albania to PPS 888 in Montenegro,“
It added that „in January 2022, 13 Member States, located in the east and the south of the EU, had minimum wages* below €1,000 per month: Bulgaria (€332), Latvia (€500), Romania (€515), Hungary (€542), Croatia (€624), Slovakia (€646), Czechia (€652), Estonia (€654), Poland (€655), Lithuania (€730), Greece (€774), Malta (€792) and Portugal (€823),“ the Eurostat said.
According to the report, the January minimum wages in Slovenia was €1,074 and  in Spain  €1,126 per month, while in the remaining six member states, minimum wages were above €1 500 per month: France (€1 603), Germany (€1,621), Belgium (€1,658), the Netherlands (€1 725), Ireland (€1 775) and Luxembourg (€2 257)."
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/eurostat-min-wages-over-e-1500-in-6-eu-states-serbia-only-ahead-of-albania/

Serbia successfully completes first review of economic program

December 20, 2021
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that Serbia had successfully completed the first review of its economic program, supported by the Policy Coordination Instrument (PCI), the National Bank of Serbia said on Monday in a press release.
“In light of effective implementation of economic policy measures and good macroeconomic results, the Board made the decision without an official meeting, which is a possibility used when assessed that a formal discussion is not needed,” the press release said.
According to the IMF Executive Board, “vigorous economic recovery is underway in Serbia, supported by a large-scale and timely policy response and strong precrisis growth momentum”. “Already in Q1 2021, Serbia’s GDP exceeded its pre-crisis level. The IMF now projects even higher than initially forecast growth in 2021 and unchanged growth of 4.5% in 2022,” it said.
The IMF report said that the banking sector is assessed as well-capitalized and liquid and the financial system is healthy – as shown by all indicators, while the development of the capital market and continued dinarisation will serve as an important support to medium-term growth.
“The IMF Executive Board expects that inflation will return to the lower half of the target tolerance band in H2 2022, when the effects of the drought from this year will wane and energy prices will stabilise,” the press release said.
The IMF said that the 2022 budget is well-balanced, “envisaging: (1) further narrowing of the fiscal deficit to 3% of GDP; (2) moderate growth in public sector wages and pensions; and (3) continued high capital investment” with generally balanced risks.
“The medium-term macroeconomic framework that the IMF projects for Serbia is pretty good and realistic. The framework projects medium-term growth of 4–4.5% and sustainable public finances, along with the improvement of all fiscal parameters,” it said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbia-successfully-completes-first-review-of-economic-program/

Average net salary in Bosnia amounts to €500 in October 2021

December 20, 2021
The average paid net salary in Bosnia and Herzegovina in October amounted to 1,007 Bosnian marks (some €500) and was nominally two percent higher than in December last year, and 4.8 percent higher than in October last year, FENA news agency reported Monday.
In financial and insurance activities, the average net salary in October amounted to 1,635 Bosnian marks, in the production and supply of electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning 1,501 Bosnian marks, and 1,438 marks in the field of information and communication, the BiH Statistics Agency said.
The lowest average net salary in October was in accommodation services, food preparation and serving and it amounted to 621 marks (approx. €310), while in construction it amounted to 725 marks, and in wholesale and retail trade 745 marks.
The average gross salary in BiH, in October of 2021 amounted to 1,552 Bosnian marks (some €776) and was nominally higher by 1.7 percent compared to December last year, and 4.5 percent higher compared to October last year.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/average-net-salary-in-bosnia-amounts-to-e500-in-october-2021/

Serbian GDP grows by almost 8 percent

December 20, 2021
The Serbian Republic Statistics Office (RZS) said on Monday the GDP rose by 7.7 percent in real terms in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same period a year earlier.
The RZS Trendovi publication said that the GDP growth was mainly caused by the services sector (apart from retail) with four percentage points and the trade and construction sectors.
Personal consumption rose by 8.1 percent in real terms, contributing 5.5 percentage points to the GDP growth.
Investments increased by 12.6 percent compared to the same period a year earlier while imports and exports report growth of 22.5 and 22.9 percent respectively, contributing 10.7 and 12.9 percentage points respectively to the GDP.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-gdp-grows-by-almost-8-percent/

Serbian Statistics Office predicts inflation at 7.5 percent in Q1 2022

December 20, 2021
The Serbian Republic Statistics Office (RZS) predicted on Monday that inflation would stand at around 7.5 percent in the first quarter of 2022.
The RZS said in is Trendovi publication that the leading composite consumer price indicator for the fourth quarter of 2021 shows that year on year prices are expected to rise by some 7.3 percent.
The rise in prices in the last quarter of this year was mainly due to higher prices of food, non-alcoholic beverages, fuel and household electricity bills.
The rise in consumer prices in the first quarter of next year will be “predominantly defined” by higher food, fuel and tobacco prices, the RZS said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-statistics-office-predicts-inflation-at-7-5-percent-in-q1-2022/

Kosovo power company facing serious problems

December 14, 2021
The Kosovo Power company (KEK) said on Tuesday that its thermal power facilities were experiencing serious problems after part of the Kosovo B plant experienced failures and could shut down.
Economy Minister Artane Ruzvanoli said that Kosovo was in a state of emergency because of the increased demand for power and fuels and high import prices. The Kosovo B power plant. “The situation was relatively good because we relied on our own production since early November and that covered the demand but the cold weather raised power consumption and imports. The import prices of electricity are very high and that brings the emergency situation,” Pristina-based media quoted her as saying.
Local media warned that an entire block of the thermal power plant could shut down because of technical failures, leaving Kosovo without the 550 Mw it produces. Pristina also risks losing central heating across the city, the media warned, adding that KEK is currently producing 360 Mw of electricity with demand reaching as high as 1,200 Mw.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/kosovo-power-company-facing-serious-problems/

Serbia’s Min: 30,000 people without electricity, 800 substations out of order

December 14, 2021
Zorana Mihajlovic, Serbia's Minister of Mining and Energy, said that 30,000 users throughout Serbia still did not have power and 800 substations were out of order on Tuesday after heavy snow hit the country on Sunday.
On Monday, she said that 36,000 people were hit by an outage and 2,000 substations needed repair, adding „things are improving“.
Mihajlovic partially blamed a natural disaster for the situation but said: „There are other causes and factors.“
„There were various comments on whether we should talk about it now. But I believe we should first deal with this serious crisis,“ and then with someone’s responsibility.
Speaking ahead of the World in 2022 conference, Mihajlovic warned that the energy crisis existed in Europe, the World, and our country.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-min-30000-people-without-electricity-800-substations-out-of-order/

Serbian central bank says hard currency reserves increased

December 13, 2021
The National Bank of Serbia (NBS) said on Monday that the country’s gross hard currency reserves had increased by more than 175 million Euro in November.
A press release said that those reserves stood at 16.45 billion Euro at the end of November, 175.3 million Euro higher than a month earlier.
“The net hard currency reserves stood at 13.94 billion Euro at the end of November or 76 million Euro higher than a month earlier,” it added. The net hard currency reserves are calculated by deducting the mandatory hard currency reserves of banks from the gross reserves.
Net hard currency income in November stood at 40.1 million Euro from bank activities, 16.8 million from donations, 15.4 million from the sale of state bonds on the domestic financial market and 119.2 million Euro from hard currency management and other bases.
“The positive effect of market factors also affected the growth of the hard currency reserves totaling 231.8 million Euro, mainly because the Dollar grew stronger against the Euro by 3.1 percent,” the NBS said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-central-bank-says-hard-currency-reserves-increased/

Prices continue to rise in Serbia; Y/Y inflation 7.5 pct

December 13, 2021
According to the Bureau of Statistics data published on Monday, consumer prices in Serbia increased by 7.5 percent in one year, equivalent to inflation in November this year compared to November 2020.
Food, oils and fats prices have risen the most, by 22.5 percent, followed by vegetables by 20.5 percent and fruit 16.9 percent.
Energy prices increased by 13.6 percent in the same period, primarily due to a 25.1 percent increase in oil prices on the domestic market.
According to official statistics, meat’s price has increased by 14.1 percent since November 2020.
Fuel and lubricants for passenger cars have also become 24 percent more expensive. The prices of vehicle rental services rose by 19 percent.
Food and non-alcoholic beverages did not record a drop in prices from last year to November 2021.
Lower prices by 0.5 percent were recorded in footwear and footwear repair services, followed by 0.3 percent for household textiles.
House and garden tools and equipment were cheaper by 0.2 percent, while IT equipment was less expensive by 3.2 percent compared to November last year.
„This still indicates the temporary nature of inflationary pressures. Since the beginning of the year, year-on-year core inflation has averaged some two percent. The long-term relative stability of the exchange rate, which represents the anchor of price stability and which will be preserved in the following period, contributes to keeping core inflation at a low and stable level. Also, an essential factor in low and stable core inflation is the inflation expectations of the financial sector and the economy, which have been moving within the target for a more extended period,“ Serbia’s National Bank (NBS) said in a statement.
The central bank added that the increase in year-on-year inflation compared to October’s 6.6 percent, was still driven by the movement of food and energy prices.
It said that inflationary pressures based on food prices could subside in the coming period.
„The Government’s measures support that in terms of limiting the prices of basic foodstuffs,“ the NBS said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/prices-continue-to-rise-in-serbia-y-y-inflation-7-5-pct/

NBS keeps key policy rate unchanged

December 9, 2021
The Serbian central bank (NBS) said on Thursday that the key policy rate would remain unchanged at the level of one percent.
A press release from the NBS Governor’s office said that the relative stability of the exchange rate would also remain firm and recalled that y.o.y. inflation stood at 6.6 percent in October while base inflation stood at 2.7 percent. The NBS said that it expects the rise in flation to be temporary, slowing down in the second quarter of 2022.
The press release said that the NBS Executive Board decided at its latest meeting that medium-term price and financial stability will remain a priority in monetary policy. It said that support would be provided to ensure faster economic growth and employment, help export growth and create a more favorable investment environment.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-central-bank-keeps-key-policy-rate-unchanged-4/

Belgrade Stock Exchange moves trading on Athens Stock Exchange platform

November 26, 2021

Sinisa Krneta and Socrates Lazaridis signed in Athens on Friday the agreement on the migration of the Belgrade Stock Exchange to the trading platform of the Athens Stock Exchange was signed on Thursday in Athens, as the directors of the two institutions.

The agreement represents „a new step in achieving the common goal of close cooperation and promotion of broader regional connections, initially started by the Athens Stock Exchange entering the ownership structure of the Belgrade Stock Exchange.“

All partners in this process (Athens Stock Exchange, Belgrade Stock Exchange and Cyprus Stock Exchange) and their respective investment communities will be able to take advantage of operational efficiency, market liquidity and new business opportunities, which will enable efficient support to local economic development, „Belgrade institution said.

The agreement also emphasises the commitment and support the Athens Stock Exchange provides to the Belgrade counterpart in its strategic efforts to transform Serbia’s capital market into an internationally recognised one.

„We look forward to partnering with the Belgrade Stock Exchange in the context of a common trading platform, which will enable further strengthening of our markets by expanding the investor base and offering new investment opportunities for local and international investors, as well as improving the offer of investment products traded in these markets,“ Lazaridis said.

Krneta added that the migration of activities to the Athens Stock Exchange trading platform „reflects a strong position and commitment not only to further strengthening cooperation between the two exchanges but also to the ultimate goal of improving market efficiency, transparency and certainty by providing a trading platform entirely in line with European Union regulations.“

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/belgrade-stock-exchange-moves-trading-on-athens-stock-exchange-platform/

PM: Croatia had a €50 bn net gain from its 8 years of EU membership

November 24, 2021
Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Wednesday that in the eight years of its European Union membership Croatia had absorbed €50 billion more than it paid in, underscoring that every country was facing difficulties in absorbing money from EU funds.
“In the eight years of our EU membership we have absorbed over €80 billion and we paid in €30 billion, which means we are €50 billion in the black,” the prime minister said during Question Time in Parliament, responding to a question by Domagoj Hajdukovic of the Social Democrats’ caucus.
Plenkovic underscored that all EU member states have difficulties in absorbing money from EU funds, adding that the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) were not invented for Croatia’s sake.
Our government said it wanted to participate in the instrument because we wish to the more strict supervision of the use of European funds; I have no problem with that, if someone is guilty, they will answer for that, if they are not, they won’t, Plenkovic told the MP. He asked him how will those responsible for the irresponsible use of EU funds be held accountable.
Were you aware of the crimes of ex-minister Gabrijela Zalac or did she trick you as well, Hajdukovic asked the prime minister.
Hajdukovic agreed Croatia was in the black when it came to EU funds, stressing that the point of his question was whether the money from EU funds had been stolen by the prime minister’s party colleagues or had it been distributed to those who were supposed to receive it.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/pm-croatia-has-a-e-50-bn-net-gain-from-its-8-years-of-eu-membership/

Serbia owes China more than 8 billion Dollars, report says

November 24, 2021
Serbia has to pay China more than eight billion Dollars over the next 20-25 years according to a study on Chinese investments in Europe.
The Nova.rs portal quoted the findings in a report by the Central and Eastern European Center for Asian Studies (CEECAS) which said that the Chinese presence in Serbia in terms of infrastructure projects stands at 9.7 billion Euro but added that these are not foreign direct investments (FDI). Serbia is followed by Hungary with 5.4 billion, Romania with 2.8 billion and Bosnia-Herzegovina with 1.9 billion.
The Chinese Investment in Central and Eastern Europe report showed that Serbia will have to pay more than eight billion Dollars over the next two decades just to service the loans it took from Chinese banks to finance the infrastructure projects being built by Chinese companies.
Report co-author Stefan Vladisavljev from the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence told Nova.rs that the level of Serbia’s debt is indisputable. He said that he had insight into contracts and projects to get to the total amount of debt. “The data base stops with December 2020 which means that the ring rounds at Loznica and Milanovac and the Golubac-Pozarevac roads will only increase it,” he said and warned that these are long-term debts to Chinese banks.
The Serbian authorities under President Aleksandar Vucic have invested significant effort to attract Chinese companies to the country to build roads and upgrade railway networks as well as invest in large-scale projects as the Zijin company did with the copper mine complex in the town of Bor and HBIS did with the steel plant in Smederevo.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbia-owes-china-more-than-8-billion-dollars-report-says/

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