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International Information Centre for Balkan Studies



Zijin buys another copper and gold mine in Serbia

November 4, 2019

The Zijin Mining company said on Monday that it was set to buy out the copper and gold mines that its partner company Freeport McMoran Inc has in Serbia, the Belgrade-based Beta news agency reported quoting a Reuters report.

Zijin said it would pay up to 390 million Dollars for the lower zone of the Timok copper and gold mine. The company already owns the upper zone. The Chinese company will initially pay Freeport 240 million Dollars for the mine and will follow up with payments of 0.4 percent of net sales proceeds once production begins up to an aggregate maximum of 150 million Dollars.  

Zijin is continuing to strengthen its foothold in the Balkans after taking over copper production at Serbia‘s RTB Bor mining and smelting complex in 2018. The company said it would raise its total controlled copper resources by 15.6 percent or 7.72 million tons to 57.24 million tons, while its gold resources would rise by 161 tonnes, or 9.3%, to 1,889 tons.  

The development of the lower zone of the Timok mine has not been started while production from the upper zone is expected to begin in 2021.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a540951/Zijin-buys-another-copper-and-gold-mine-in-Serbia.html

Deputy PM says government has no plan to stop brain drain

October 25, 2019

Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Zoran Mihajlovic said on Friday that the government has not found the right way to keep young people from leaving the country.

“This is the issue that we should be tackling and which we still don’t have the right answer to or right plan for,” she told a meeting of the Serbian Employers Union assembly.  

According to Mihajlovic, the government’s job is not to get involved with business but to create the best possible conditions to do business,” a statement said.  

She said a new investment cycle is being launched in a period which is crucial to efforts to keep people in Serbia.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a538107/Deputy-PM-says-government-has-no-plan-to-stop-brain-drain.html

Shortage of skilled labor in Serbia, entrepreneurs say

October 25, 2019

The biggest problem facing entrepreneurs in Serbia is the shortage of skilled labor, the Ernst&Young company said on Friday.

A presentation of the EY Entrepreneurship Barometer 2019 at the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (PKS) was told that 90 percent of Serbian entrepreneurs said the shortage of skilled workers is the biggest challenge their companies face. “The chronic shortage of workers is a national problem which has to be solved strategically to avoid a situation in which the planned GDP growth is not achievable,”Ernst&Young Country Managing Partner Ivan Rakic said.  

Rakic said that an “alarming number of people said they contracted jobs but don’t have the workforce to do them both in production and services”. He added that the poll of 115 companies showed that 86 percent of entrepreneurs believe that tax rates on earnings have to be cut.  

“Unfair competition is also a problem because they see other companies surviving despite fines,” he said.  

According to Rakic, the third biggest problem entrepreneurs face is the fact that 77 percent are financing their growth from their own funds and just one fifth of entrepreneurs take out bank loans. Other problems include the economic climate, competition on the market, regulatory and bureaucratic obstacles, prices and long working hours.  

The poll showed that 71 percent of Serbian entrepreneurs manage family companies. A total of 41 percent feel that entrepreneurship is not viewed as a good career choice while 85 percent said the media are not focusing enough attention on entrepreneurs.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a538083/Shortage-of-skilled-labor-in-Serbia-entrepreneurs-say.html

EU, UNDP call Serbia to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

October 24, 2019

The Delegation of the European Union and the United Nations Development Program in Serbia on Thursday issued a joint message calling the government to help reduce greenhouse gas emmission and encourage the country’s society and economy to adapt to the impact of climate change.

“In the aftermath of the 2019 UN Climate Summit, which garnered momentous pledges by governments and the private sector to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050, the EU Delegation to Serbia and the UNDP kindly request the support of the Republic of Serbia in reducing the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and encourage the adaptation of Serbian society and economy to the imminent impact of climate change,” the joint statement said.

It said that climate Change is the “Defining Issue of Our Time” and warned that its consequences affect both women and men but in different ways. “Women should be part of the solutions to climate change and are increasingly being involved in the development and implementation of national climate policies as agents of change. We strongly believe that addressing gender gaps and supporting the empowerment of women provide an excellent opportunity to help achieve environmental benefits,” the statement said adding that the Serbian government should plan and implement efforts to reduce emissions with a minimum impact and without adverse effects on the lives of the poor and most vulnerable men and women.  

It recalled that Serbia has pledged to reduce its GHG emissions by 9,8% by 2030 compared to 1990, as presented in the Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement. The EU Delegation and UNDP said the government had invested significant efforts to reduce GHG emissions in key economic sectors but that opportunities still exist to do more. “We encourage a bold and ambitious revision of the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) ahead of the forthcoming 25th UNFCCC Conference of the Parties.” the joint statement said.  

The EU and UNDP encourage support to Innovation in Serbia, the transformation of the Serbian economy and support for improvements in local communities as well as support to young people in efforts to raise awareness of climate change.

“If some of the worst scenarios come true, the Western Balkans countries can expect a warming of up to 3 °C by mid-century. This will lead to an increase in the frequency and duration of heatwaves, droughts and floods … Extreme weather events will drag the countries towards crops failures and shortages, increased summer energy consumption, decreased water supply in summer and the spread of new diseases,” it said.  

The EU and UNDP also encourage Serbia to calculate environment and climate costs of all investments, as well as to conduct strategic social and environment impact assessments for each large-scale investment, the joint statement said.  

The statement was issued in the week that pollution levels in Belgrade were reported to have risen to dangerous levels.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a537813/EU-UNDP-call-Serbia-to-reduce-greenhouse-gas-emmissions.html

Antic: Bulgaria completing pipeline to Serbia

October 21, 2019

Serbian Mining and Energy Minister Aleksandar Antic said on Monday that Bulgaria is completing its part of a pipeline between the two countries, the ministry said in a statement on Monday.

Antic and his Bulgarian counterpart Temenushenka Petkova toured Turkish Stream pipeline construction sites in Bulgaria with Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.  

The Serbian Minister is quoted as saying that the Bulgarian authorities have finished the part of the pipeline from the border with Turkey to a compressor station and are starting construction on the pipeline section to Serbia. “I can say with absolute certainty that the Bulgarians will complete the project needed to supply gas to Serbia which will get the first gas supplies from it in 2020,” Antic said, adding that Serbia is working intensively on its section of the pipeline which he said would be completed by the end of the year.  

According to the minister, the pipeline running from Turkey through Bulgaria and Serbia to Hungary “represents a huge potential which will turn Serbia into a transit country”. He said all the countries along the route have coordinated their efforts and are on schedule.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a536793/Antic-Bulgaria-completing-pipeline-to-Serbia.html

Serbia likely to ban building of SHPPs, Minister says

October 21, 2019

Goran Trivan, Serbia’s Ecology Minister, said on Monday he believed there was a consensus in the Government to ban the building of small hydropower plants (SHPPs) in the country, the Beta news agency reported.

 Trivan announced changes to the Law on Environmental Protection which would enable the ban of building the SHPPs in the protected areas.

“The debate about the issue lasts for at least two years. If we know that we have the least surface waters in the region, we have to take care how to preserve them, and one of the ways is this ban in the protected areas,” Trivan told the state RTS TV.

He added that the mood in the Government regarding the ban remained to be seen, but said he thought there was no dilemma over the ban in the preserved space.

After the law was passed by the Parliament, the next issue that would be tackled would be a plan for the remaining parts of Serbia as to the SHPPs, Trivan said.            

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a536530/Serbia-expceted-to-say-no-to-SHPPs.html

Serbia’s Bank Governor to N1: No risk of over-borrowing

October 18, 2019

Jorgovanka Tabakovic, Serbia’s National Bank (NBS) Governor, told N1 on Friday that higher wages and pensions in 2020 should accelerate the economic growth through higher demand.

Speaking to N1 at the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) annual meeting in Washington, she said that Serbia did not have access to cheap money in the last period, but that the country managed to repay some two billion Dollars old debts in 2018.

Reacting to one of the IMF warnings tha low-interest rates could make countries to borrow more, Tabakovic said there was no such risk for Serbia since it had a sustainable GDP growth.

She added that NBS said that Serbia’s future growth which IMF confirmed to be 3.5 percent this and four percent next year was based on the domestic demand and direct foreign investments.

“And that perfectly fits what we do in the given fiscal space on the stable and sustainable bases,” Tabakovic told N1.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a535966/No-risk-for-Serbia-s-over-borrowing-NBS-chief-says.html

IMF: Serbia's reforms are progressing, but stronger commitment needed

October 15, 2019

The economic results in Serbia are still very good, the unemployment is at the record low level, monetary policy correct, and the 3.5 percent growth is expected this, and four percent in 2020, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission Jan Kees Martijn said on Tuesday, the Beta news agency reported.

The IMF mission spent two days in Belgrade for the third review of the Policy Coordination Instrument (PCI).

"The IMF team had construction talks with Serbia's authorities and agreed on politics needed for the completion of the PCI," Martijn told a news conference.

He recalled that Serbia's Government adopted the budget rebalance, which included additional capital spending, one-time payment for pensioners and the increase of the public sector's salaries.

"Although these measures do not impede the fiscal sustainability, Serbia's Government should carefully follow the budget execution to secure that the deficit remains within the borders envisaged by the programme," Martijn said.

"Structural reforms are still progressing, but stronger commitment in some areas is needed to induce Serbia's growth potential and limit fiscal risks," he added at the end oh the IMF two-day mission in Belgrade.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a534926/Serbia-s-economy-in-good-shame-more-commitment-needed.html

UNEP indentifies polluted sites in Serbia

October 7, 2019

The UN Environment agency UNEP has has identified 14 abandoned industrial sites which need to be cleaned up as soon as possible across Serbia, a statement said on Monday.

It added that decades if industrial activities in combination with inadequate waste disposal infrastructure have left more than 700 potentially polluted industrial locations. UNEP said those sites are part of a “dangerous heritage of contaminated land in Serbia”, adding that hundreds of sites have been polluted by heavy metals and other potentially cancerous materials. A lot of those sites are close to inhabited areas and rivers and could pollute both land and water and cause a loss of biodiversity, it said.  

UNEP launched a project to investigate possible earth and water pollution in 32 locations, providing training for local authorities which are passing their findings on to the national Environmental Protection Agency.  

UN Resident Coordinator a.i. in Serbia Hans Friedrich Schodder said at a presentation of the project that an interactive map of the polluted areas had been drawn up and a national platform set up to exchange information about soil degradation and management. “This will allow system institutions to investigate each site in detail, dispose of hazardous waste and clean up the environment,” Belgrade city Public Health Authority Milan Milutinović said.  

The project was funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Italian Ministry of the Environment and was implemented by UNEP and he Serbian Environment Ministry and Environmental Protection Agency.

Source: http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a532450/UNEP-indentifies-polluted-sites-in-Serbia.html

FIAT Chrysler Automobiles sends staff on paid leave

September 19, 2019

FIAT Chrysler Automobiles is sending its employees on vacation to the end of September, the factory union told the Beta news agency.

Production of the FIAT 500L is scheduled to resume on October 1. “We have been informed that a new break is coming, ie paid leave, up to October 1 when the workers are due back at the factory,” Independent Union leader Zoran Markovic said.  

He said the management decided on the break to bring production into line with demand. The break comes less than three weeks after the plant sent its workers on collective paid leave. That break lasted some seven weeks and staff went back to work on September 3.  

Markovic said that a total of 416 cars were made in September.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a527105/FIAT-Chrysler-Automobiles-sends-staff-on-paid-leave.html

Montly income lower than expenses, Serbian Statistics Office says

September 16, 2019

The average monthly income for households in Serbia in the second quarter of 2019 stood at 63,348 Dinars (1 Euro – 118 Dinars) while expenses stood at 66,576, the Republic Statistics Office said on Monday.

The press release said that the average household income rose by 5.6 percent in the second quarter of 2019 compared to the same period a year earlier while expenses rose by 3.9 percent. Compared to the first quarter of the year average household income was 0.7 percent higher while expenses were 0.8 higher.  

Most of the average household income is from salaries (49.7 percent) followed by pensions (32.4 percent) , earnings from farming, hunting and fishing (3.7 percent), other income (2.9 percent and social security payments (2.7 percent).  

The biggest household expenses are for food and non-alcoholic beverages (34.4 percent) followed by housing costs and utilities bills (16.7 percent), transport costs (9.4 percent), clothing and footwear (5.4 percent) communications (5.2 percent, recreation and culture (4.8 percent), alcoholic beverages and tobacco (4.8 percent).  

The statistics office polled 1,610 households.

Source: http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a526181/Montly-income-lower-than-expenses-Serbian-Statistics-Office-says.html

Southeast Europe Transport Community opens HQ in Belgrade

September 13, 2019

The agreement on the headquarters of Transport Community Treaty Permanent Secretariat has been signed in Belgrade on Friday, the European Union Delegation to the Republic of Serbia, said in a statement.

It quoted the EU Delegation head Ambassador Sem Fabrizi as saying that the “decision to have Belgrade as the seat for the Permanent Secretariat of the Transport Community represents a great opportunity and responsibility for Serbia”.

“Today’s signature of the Headquarter agreement is another important step in implementing this Decision, and I congratulate the interim Director of the Permanent Secretariat of the Transport Community Alain Baron and the Deputy Prime Minister Mihajlovic for their commitment”, he said.

Fabrizi added that “establishment of the Transport Community is of significant importance for the integration of transport markets of the South-East European partners into the EU transport market.

“It is a part of the ‘connectivity agenda’ improving transport, energy and digital links within the Western Balkans and with the EU, which has been endorsed and supported by the EU from the start. This is a key factor for growth and jobs and will bring clear benefits to the region’s economies and citizens”.The statement quoted him as reminding “that only in the past seven years, the EU has made up to five billion Euros of investments in the transport sector in the Western Balkans, of which the construction of the new Zezelj bridge and the on-going modernisation of the Nis-Dimitrovgrad railway are among the last most emblematic and visible successes in Serbia.”

“But it goes much further than that: great impacts of EU – Serbia and Western Balkans cooperation is when we deal with technical standards, interoperability, safety, security, traffic management, social policy, public procurement and environment, progressively aligning practices within the region and with the European Union highest standards. This is what the Transport Community will deliver and it will have crucial impacts on speed, quality, price and effectiveness of transport for citizens and businesses”, Fabrizi was quoted as saying.

The agreement on opening the Headquarter was signed by Serbia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Construction, Traffic and Infrastructure, Zorana Mihajlovic and the newly appointed interim Director of the Permanent Secretariat of the Transport Community Alain Baron.

The statement added that the Community was established in October 2017, following the signing on a Treaty on its creation on October 9, 2017. Its aim is “The development of transport network between the EU and countries of Southeast Europe – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo*, Montenegro and Serbia.

The seat of the Permanent Secretariat of Transport Community is expected to open physically in a few months.

Serbia’s Prime Minister said that the Community Headquarter “yet another symbol of Serbia’s progress it made together with the whole region and confirmed our region place in the heart of Europe.”

Mihajlovic said “the transport is not only asphalt, stone and connection speed, but it is also the most powerful tool in helping us to have a better life, to have more investments, stable peace and prosperity… To get closer to the Europen Union.”

The Transport Community Treaty was signed during the Western Balkans Summit in Trieste in July 2017 within the Berlin Process’ meetings.  

Source: http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a525417/Belgrade-becomes-HQ-of-the-SE-Transport-Community.html

Kosovo outgoing FM congratulates Serbia for building Nis – Pristina motorway

September 13, 2019

Behgjet Pacolli, Kosovo’s outgoing Foreign Minister, said on Friday that the signing of the agreement on building the motorway linking Serbia southern city of Nis to Kosovo’s capital Pristina was “a great step forward to reconciliation with Kosovo,” the KoSSev website reported.

He congratulated Serbia’s Government and President Aleksandar Vucic for securing the money to build the motorway.

"The continuation of the Nis- Merdare -Pristina road is a big step toward peace with Kosovo. Peace is the only way to build a bright future, Paccoli wrote on his Twitter account.

The motorway should have been constructed by 2020, but part of the funds was secured on Thursday from the European Investment bank.    

Source: http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a525411/Pristina-welcomes-new-Serbia-s-motorway.html

Fin Min: Minimum monthly wage in Serbia up 11.1 pct

September 10, 2019

Sinisa Mali, Serbia’s Finance Minister, said on Tuesday the monthly minimum wage in the country would rose by 11.1 percent to reach 255.4 Euros, N1 reported.

That means the minimum earnings per hour increased to 1.47 from 1.32 percent, Mali has said.

The current minimum wage per month is around 230 Euros.

The Government had to decide on how much the minimum wage would go up since the Social-Economic Council could not reach a deal with the unions demanding an increase of 24.5 percent and the employers offering five to six percent.

According to the country's’ Statistic Office, the workforce in Serbia numbered 2,166.500 people in the second quarter of this year.

Some 350,000 will live on a minimum monthly wage.

In May 2019, an average consumer basket cost 609 Euros a month, while a minimum one was some 317 Euros , according to the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunication.

Source: http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a524581/Minimum-monthly-wage-in-Serbia-increases-11.1-percent.html

Serbia’s public debt 51.9 percent of GDP

September 4, 2019

Serbia’s public debt stood at 51.9 percent of the GDP at the end of July this year, the Finance Ministry said on Wednesday.

The statement said that the public debt amounted to 23,84 billion Euro and increased by some 300 million Dinars (1 Euro – 118 Dinars) compared to June.  

The public debt stood at around 23 billion Euro at the end of 2018 or 53.8 percent of the GDP and at 23.2 billion Euros or 61.5 percent of the GDP at the end of 2017. The public debt stood at 24.8 billion Euro or 71.9 percent of the GDP in December 2016 and at 24.8 billion Euros or 74.7 percent of the GDP at the end of 2015.  

Serbia’s public debt stood at 14.17 billion Euros or 201.2 percent of the GDP at the end of the year 2000. The lowest public debt was in 2008 when it stood at 8.78 billion Euros or 28.3 percent of the GDP. The law on the budget system limits the public debt to 45 percent of the GDP.

Source: http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a522934/Serbia-s-public-debt-51.9-percent-of-GDP.html

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