International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Serbian central bank officials sued over loan processing charges

October 16, 2020

The Efektiva Association of Bank Clients said on Friday that it had filed criminal charges against officials at the National Bank of Serbia (NBS) who failed to prevent banks from charging clients to process loans despite the Supreme Court ruling.

The Serbian Supreme Court ruled that banks can’t charge clients to process loans unless they inform the client about every individual expense.  

Efektiva said that it filed charges against NBS Governor Jorgovanka Tabakovic and her vice-governor for “abuse of official position and failure to perform official duties which allowed banks financial gain at the expense of the citizens of Serbia”.

A statement said that the NBS failed to prevent banks from charging clients illegally and its top officials openly sided with banks and consciously deceiving the public by stating that banks have the right to charge for loan processing and only quoting the part of the court ruling that benefits banks.

It recalled that the Supreme Court ruled on the issue more than two years ago. “No bank has shown in any of several thousand law suits what the costs are nor why they are linked to the loan amounts. Several hundred court rulings have been made in favor of the clients,” the statement said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a661393/Serbian-central-bank-officials-sued-over-loan-processing-charges.html

Risk of poverty high, Serbian Statistics Office says

October 15, 2020

The at risk of poverty rate stood at 23.2 percent in Serbia in 2019 and was 1.1 percent lowered compared to 2018 and the risk of social exclusion was 31.7 percent or 2.6 percent lower than in 2018, the Republic Statistics Office (RZS) said on Thursday.

The at risk of poverty rate is the percentage of people whose available income is below the at risk of poverty level. In Serbia that meant an income of 19,381 Dinars (1 Euro – 118 Dinars) a month in 2019 for a household of one.

The threshold for a family of two adults and one child up to the age of 14 was 34,886 Dinars and for a family of four with two children up to the age of 14 was 40,700 Dinars.  

The at risk of social exclusion rate is the percentage of people at risk of poverty or with extremely bad material situations or living households with low labor intensity.   Viewed by age, young people under the age of 18 were most at risk of poverty (28.9 percent) as were people aged 18 to 24 (25.6 percent) while the lowest rate was among people over the age of 65 (21.1 percent).  

Viewed by household, the group most at risk (51.9 percent) were families with two adults and three or more children and single-parent families with one or more children (41.6 percent).  

The most at risk were the unemployed (47.5 percent) and the lowest risk was among people employed by others (6.5 percent). Among the self-employed the rate stood at 25.9 percent and among pensioners at 17.2 percent.  


IMF: Bosnia's economy to shrink 6.5 percent in 2020

October 14, 2020

Bosnia's DGP is expected to drop 6.5 percent in 2020, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in its revised estimates for the region, meaning the country's economy will shrink even further compared to April estimates of only 5 percent.

The country's economy will likely pick up in 2021 by a modest 5 percent, which is also a revised number compared to April's Economic Outlook Report when they said the economy will gry by 3.5 percent.

The Fund added that they expect the country's economy to grow at the rate of 3.5 percent 2025.

The Report also claims consumer prices will drop 0.8 percent in 2020, compared to 0.7 percent from April estimates.

Inflation forecasts stand at 0.4 percent and the country's current account deficit is expected to rise to 4.4 percent of GDP this year.

Currently, the gap is expected to widen to 6.1 percent of next year's GDP, before narrowing to 3.8 percent in 2025, the IMF said.

According to them, Montenegro's GDP will shrink by 12 percent (three percent more than the previous estimate), Croatia's by nine percent (unchanged estimate), Albania and Kosovo's by 7.5 percent each (2.5 percent more than the previous estimate), the North Macedonian by 5.4 percent (1.4 percent more than the previous estimate) and Serbia's by 2.5 percent (0.5 percent more than the previous estimate).

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a478524/IMF-Bosnia-s-economy-to-shrink-6.5-percent-in-2020.html

Daily says biggest infrastructure projects going to foreign companies

October 12, 2020

Belgrade daily Danas said on Monday that the biggest and most expensive projects in the country have been awarded to foreign companies and are being financed with loans from their respective countries.

Prime Minister Designate Ana Brnabic told Chinese Politburo member Yang Jiechi that thousands of jobs were saved and thousands more opened thanks to the Chinese companies investing in Serbia.

 It said that the government has taken some five billion Euro in loans from foreign banks to build roads, railways and other infrastructure without tenders to choose the best company to complete those projects. “That casts a huge shadow on the claim that Serbia is a big construction site because the population will spend years paying off the loans of almost five billion Euro for the 10 biggest projects,” it said and added that the authorities have announced more big projects and know who will do them and which banks will give the loans.  

The daily said that the government took 2.42 billion Euro in loans for highways and major roads of a total length of 330 kilometers.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a659778/Daily-says-biggest-infrastructure-projects-going-to-foreign-companies.html

Serbian central bank says reserves at 13 billion Euro

October 9, 2020

The National Bank of Serbia (NBS) said on Friday that its gross hard currency reserves totaled 13.03 billion Euro in September or 338.8 million Euro less than a month earlier.

The net hard currency reserves stood at 10.78 billion Euro, it said and added that the reserves were reduced mainly because of the repayment of 212 million Euro and NBS sales of 150 million Euro on the domestic FX market to secure financial stability and ease the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.  

The level of hard currency trade on the inter-banking market in September stood at 410.4 million Euro or 48 million Euro less than a month earlier. A total of 4.82 billion Euro in trade was realized in the first nine months of the year.

The NBS said that the value of the Dinar against the Euro remained unchanged in September. The NBS sold 120 million Euro on the FX market in September, brining the total sales since the start of the year to 1.635 billion Euro.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a658934/Serbian-central-bank-says-reserves-at-13-billion-Euro.html

FIAT Chrysler Automobiles Serbia sends production staff on leave again

October 9, 2020

The FIAT Chrysler plant in Kragujevac shut down its production line and sent employees on paid leave after working for just three days, the Beta news agency reported quoting the head of the plant union.

Plant employees will remain on leave up to October 20 when produciton of the FIAT 500 L is set to resume. Nezavisnost Union leader Zoran Stanic said that the paid leave was announced on Thursday with no explanation given. He said that administrative staff will continue working as normal and added that they are getting their full salary while the staff on leave get 65 percent.  

The FIAT Chrysler Automobiles plant resumed production on October 6 to 8 after bringing production line staff back from leave which began on September 18. The plant has closed down and resumed production several times since the coronavirus pandemic broke out.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a658900/FIAT-Chrysler-Automobiles-Serbia-sends-production-staff-on-leave-again.html

Serbian FinMin says budget deficit almost 350 billion Dinars

October 7, 2020

The Serbian Finance Ministry said on Wednesday that the budget deficit in the first eight months of the year totaled 344.6 billion Dinars or about 2,95 bln Euro(1 Euro – 117 Dinars).

The deficit in August alone stood at 20.9 billion Dinars with collected income totaling 97.7 billion, including 89.7 billion in tax revenue. VAT income totaled 42.6 billion Dinars, profit tax 18.9 billion and duties 18.2 billion. Non-tax budget income totaled 7.5 billion Dinars while donations totaled 0.5 billion.

Expenses reached the level of 118.6 billion Dinars with the pension, health and other funds receiving 25.5 billion Dinars, subsidies totaling 24.8 billion and expenses for employees 24.8 billion.

The overall state fiscal deficit totaled 339.9 billion Dinars in the first eight months of 2020 while the primary fiscal deficit stood at 263.9 billion. The public debt stood at 26.61 billlion Euro at the end of August or 56.7 percent of the GDP for the year. The public debt stood at 23 billion Euro or 52 percent of the GDP at the end of 2019.    

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a658099/Serbian-FinMin-says-budget-deficit-almost-350-billion-Dinars.html

MAT: Serbia’s industrial production drops

October 6, 2020

The latest issue of the Macroeconomic Analyses and Trends (MAT) newsletter said that industrial production in Serbia dropped 0.7 percent y.o.y. between January and September.

Electricity production dropped by 2.6 percent in that eight month period while the mining industry reported an output higher by 3.2 percent. MAT said that foreign trade data indicate a recovery but at a much slower pace than industrial production. “The problem with economic recovery is less about production and more about the speed of recovery of our export destinations,” the newsletter said.

Net foreign direct investments in the January-July period stood at around 1.57 billion Euro which is 651.2 million Euro or 29.4 percent less than in the same period of 2019, it said and added that portfolio investments totaled some 1.42 billion Euro and were 1.12 billion higher than in the same period a year earlier.

The net outflow of other investments (cash and deposits, financial and trade loans) stood at 987.7 million Euro compared to 657.9 million a year earlier. MAT noted an increase in deposits by business banks abroad of 338.1 million Euro as well as net loans taken by business banks of 450.6 million Euro and companies of 273.5 million Euro while the state’s net debts were reduced by 47.3 million Euro.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a657717/MAT-Serbia-s-industrial-production-drops.html

EC economic and investment plan for Western Balkans

October 6, 2020

The European Commission on Tuesday presented a nine billion Euro economic and investment plan for the Western Balkans which is intended to help the region move forward on its path to the Union and forge closer links between its economies.

According to the plan which N1 had access to, six of the nine million Euro will be directed towards the transport, energy, digitalization, agriculture, health care and education sectors in all the countries of the region. Another 1.5 billion is earmarked for the private sector and the remaining 1.5 billion for education.  

The Commission said that the coronavirus pandemic had a massive disruptive effect on the economies of the region whichwere already lagging behind in terms of economic convergence with the EU and added that the plan was intended to spur long-term recovery which would lead to sustained economic growth.  

It said that the countries of the region had to implement reforms in order to move forward and draw closer to the EU Single Market. The plan is intended to unleash the untapped economic potential of the region and the significant scope for increased intra-regional economic cooperation and trade.  

The Commission said that it would mobilise up to nine billion Euro from IPA funds for the 2021-2027 period to support economic convergence with the EU primarily through investments and support to competitiveness and inclusive growth, sustainable connectivity, and the twin green and digital transition. It added that a new Western Balkans Guarantee facility should be put in place which could potentially raise investments of up to EUR 20 billion.  

“There is much we agree with in today’s package for the Western Balkans, including the lack of progress on tackling corruption and the need for investments in sustainable renewable energy and a circular economy. But the European Commission’s blatant lobbying to expand fossil gas use in the region is utterly unacceptable and in conflict with the EU’s own 2050 decarbonisation goals”, said Ioana Ciuta, Energy Coordinator for CEE Bankwatch Network. “The predominance of hydropower in the flagship renewable energy projects is also worrying, given its environmental impacts and climate vulnerability”, added Pippa Gallop, Bankwatch’s Southeast Europe Energy Advisor. “The region needs support to concentrate on energy savings, solar and appropriately-sited wind, not to be further distracted by 20th Century technologies.”

According to the commission, better links between the economies of the region are a priority which requires a strong commitment from the to implementing fundamental reforms, deepening regional economic integration and developing a common regional market on the basis of the EU acquis. The priorities also include waste water management and moving from coal-based to renewable energy.  

The commission warned of poor governance and limited progress in dealing with shortcomings in rule of law and the fight against corruption. It said that regional and cooperation with the EU are essential in addressing fraud, corruption, money laundering, terrorism, extremism, trafficking in arms and people and smuggling migrants.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a657673/EC-economic-and-investment-plan-for-Western-Balkans.html

Most Serbian pensioners get 200 Euro a month

October 2, 2020

The head of a pensioners’ organization said on Friday that a million pensioners in Serbia get less than 25,000 Dinars a month (1 Euro – 118 Dinars).

Pensioners’ Alliance President Andreja Savic said that the average monthly pension in Serbia is 27,769 Dinars. Speaking to the UGS Nezavisnost Union portal, Savic said that there are 1.7 million pensioners in Serbia out of a population of less than seven million.  

He said that the state pension fund had not been managed properly in the past with fund money used for various projects and investments, adding that the monthly pension payments have become a serious burden for the government because they amount to between 9.5 and 11 percent of the GDP or between 4.5 and 5 billion Euro a year.  

Savic, a former chief of the country’s top civilian security and intelligence agence (BIA) said that his organization feels that the average pension should not be less than half of the average salary which now stands at some 60,000 Dinars.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a656346/Most-Serbian-pensioners-get-200-Euro-a-month.html

Serbian court fines Zijin Copper for pollution

October 2, 2020

The Center for Investigative Journalism of Serbia (CINS) reported on Friday that the Zijin Bor Copper company and one of its managers have been sentenced to pay a fine of 450,000 Dinars (1 Euro - 118 Dinars) for air pollution.

The Economic Court in Zajecar ruled in July that the company and the manager of its Copper Smelting and Refining plant Boban Todorovic were guilty of violating the law by allowing the plant to release excessive levels of sulphur-dioxide (SO2) into the air in the town of Bor on four occasions in November 2019 and January 2020, CINS said adding that the levels of SO2 were more than eight times higher than permitted by law according to the Environment Ministry which launched the court proceedings.  

Both Zijin Bor Copper and Todorovic have the right to appeal the ruling as does the prosecution with a final ruling to be taken by the Economic Appeals Court in Belgrade where the case was sent on September 21. Prosecutors are demanding higher fines while the company lawyers want the ruling overturned.  

CINS said that Zijin could have been fined up to three million Dinars but the court said that it had considered mitigating circumstances: the company showed social responsibility and is investing effort to reduce the pollution and the equipment is outdated.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a656222/Serbian-court-fines-Zijin-Copper-for-pollution.html

Statistics office says Serbia recorded GDP growth in 2019

October 1, 2020

Serbia’s GDP was 6.8 percent higher nominally and 4.2 percent in real terms in 2019 than in 2018, the Republic Statistics Office (RZS) said on Thursday.

Serbia’s GDP stood at 5,417 billion Dinars in 2019, it said adding that the processing industry reported growth of 13.7 percent, the retail and wholesale trade sectors as well as motor vehicle repair growth of 11.4 percent, the real estate market 6.9 percent, agriculture, forestry and fisheries six percent and the construction industry 5.7 percent.  

Growth in real terms was recorded in gross investments into current assets by 17.2 percent, imports 10.7 percent, exports 7.7 percent, household expenses 3.5 percent, state expenses 2.6 percent.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a655918/Statistics-office-says-Serbia-recorded-GDP-growth-in-2019.html

EBRD: Serbia’s recovery rate lower than 2020 drop in GDP

October 1, 2020

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development revised its predictions for Serbia warning that the country’s economy will recover at a rate slower than this year’s drop.

The bank said on Thursday that Serbia’s GDP is expected to “decline by 3.5 percent in 2020, recovering by 3.0 percent in 2021”. It added that “the risks are weighted to the downside, especially if stricter social distancing measures are implemented in Serbia and in key trading partners”.  

“The impact of Covid-19 is less severe than in some peer countries, partly because of the high contribution of manufacturing of basic products to the overall output,” the EBRD said and added that the second quarter of 2020 saw a fall in economic activity of 6.5 per cent year-on-year on the back of stringent lock-down measures, bringing overall growth in the first half of 2020 to -0.9 per cent year-on-year.  

“Government measures to fight the effects of Covid-19 have focused mainly on preserving employment and increasing liquidity for companies, but the cost of these measures has driven public debt to 58 per cent of GDP by mid-2020, around five percentage points higher than at the end of 2019,” it said.  

“FDI and workers’ remittances both fell by about one-quarter year-on-year in the first half of the year. Inflationary pressures have remained subdued, with the inflation rate averaging 1.5 per cent year-on-year in the first seven months of 2020. GDP growth was strong in the first quarter of 2020, at 5.0 per cent year-on-year, driven by consumption, government expenditure and investment. At the same time, exports growth softened to 3.1 per cent year-on-year, the slowest quarterly rate since 2014,” the EBRD said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a655782/EBRD-Serbia-s-recovery-rate-lower-than-2020-drop-in-GDP.html

Industrial production drops in Serbia

September 30, 2020

Industrial production dropped 0.7 percent in Serbia between January and September this year, compared to the same period of 2019, the Republic Statistics Office (RZS) said on Wednesday.

Production dropped in August in several sectors, the RZS said, specifying that drops were reported in the electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning industries by 11.2 percent, the processing industry by three percent and mining by 1.8 percent. Capital goods production dropped by 11.3 percent, durable consumer goods by 7.9 percent, intermediary products (except energy) by 6.6. percent, perishable goods by 2.2 percent and energy by 1.4 percent, it said.

Thirteen industries that account for 52 percent of overall industrial production reported higher production while the remaining 16 industries reported drops. The biggest growth was reported in the production of electricity, metal products, clothing, base metals and chemicals, the RZS said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a655488/Industrial-production-drops-in-Serbia.html

Serbia’s foreign trade drops

September 30, 2020

Serbia’s foreign trade stood at 25.08 billion Euro in the first eight months of the year, or seven percent less than in the same period of 2019, the Republic Statistics Office (RZS) said on Wednesday.

Goods exports stood at 10.62 billion Euro or 7.6 percent less than in 2019 while imports stood at 14.46 billion Euro or 6.5 percent less.  

The foreign trade deficit stands at 3.84 billion Euro or 3.2 percent lower than in the same period of 2019. A total of 73.5 percent of imports were covered by exports compared to 74.3 percent last year.  

Foreign trade was highest with the countries that Serbia has signed free trade agreements with, the RZS said adding that trade with European Union member states accounted for 60.6 percent of the total.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a655480/Serbia-s-foreign-trade-drops.html

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