International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Miskovic: authorities don’t know state of the economy

December 12, 2019

Serbian businessman Miroslav Miskovic told the latest issue of NIN weekly that the top state officials do not know the real state of the economy.

The Delta Holding owner said that President Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic should talk to the local business community not just foreign investors.

“President Vucic and Prime Minister Brnabic should talk more to local business people, hear the real problems they face, listen to suggestions about the direction the economy should take and what laws are needed to achieve those goals. I think the top state officials actually do not have the right insight into the state of the domestic economy and knowledge is the foundation of progress,” Miskovic said.  

“Serbia will be a much happier country if people in business, the people who employ others and pay taxes are asked about economic policy,” he said.

According to Miskovic, a traditional fear of business people exists in Serbia and business conditions are created by “politicians with no experience, theoreticians with no experience in practice, just so that the people who know about business don’t get to do it”. “Is that logical,” he asked.  

Miskovic added that he does not know of any foreign economy advisor alongside the political advisors from Austria, Italy, the UK that the government and president have, adding that “this says enough”.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a551684/Miskovic-authorities-don-t-know-state-of-the-economy.html

FIAT Serbia plant stops production for 2019

December 10, 2019

The FIAT Chrysler Automobiles Serbia plant in Kragujevac has completed its production of the 500L for this year and will continue production in mid-January, a union leader said on Tuesday.

Independent Union leader Zoran Markovic said that production at the plant ended on Monday afternoon, adding that factory employees had more than 130 days of paid leave this year, not including their vacation time and state holidays.

He said talks are underway with the plant management for a new year bonus which has been paid to staff since 2010. “The bonus is a reward for achievement and we feel that we deserved it in 2019 because we met all management demands. It’s not our fault that production was lower this year,” Markovic said.

The Union said the factory management has not released the number of vehicles produced annually for the past three years. Media reports have quoted unofficial information according to which some 40,000 FIAT 500L have been produced in 2019 in Kragujevac which is just one fourth of the plant’s capacity.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a551090/FIAT-Serbia-plant-stops-production-for-2019.html

WHO says 3,600 people die of pollution in Serbia

December 09, 2019

The Senior World Health Organization (WHO) official in Serbia Marijan Ivanusa said on Monday that some 3,600 people die from the consequences of air pollution in the country every year.

Ivanusa told the Serbian state TV (RTS) that air pollution affects people with cardiovascular and lung ailments in some way depending on the level of air pollution and length of exposure.

According to WHO data, some seven million people die of pollution every year across the world, including half a million in Europe. Ivanusa said that regular measurements have to be conducted to inform the public about air pollution levels.

Air pollution levels across Serbia were high over the weekend, especially in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Subotica, Nis and Valjevo with experts saying that the weather contributed to the high pollution levels.

The RTS said that the air in Belgrade was highly polluted on Monday.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a550834/WHO-says-3-600-people-die-of-pollution-in-Serbia.html

IMF official: Serbia’s growth result of higher demand, exports and investments

December 4, 2019

IMF Resident Representative in Serbia Sebastian Sosa told the FoNet news agency at a meeting of regional economic leaders on Wednesday that Serbia’s expected economic growth of up to four percent next year comes from stronger domestic demand and higher exports and foreign direct investments.

He said the IMF believes that unemployment will also drop along with a stable fiscal situation. Serbia has achieved progress in terms of macro-stabilization and lower instability and is expected to have a low deficit of 0.5 percent of the GDP next year, he said.

The IMF does not expect to see problems internally, he said and added that there could be risks from outside such as weaker economic activity in the European Union which is Serbia’s biggest trade partner and greatest foreign direct investor.

Sosa said the announced rise in public sector salaries is higher than recommended by the IMF but does not endanger the country’s macro-economic and fiscal stability. He added that the rise in private sector salaries is based on healthy criteria.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a549596/IMF-official-Serbia-s-growth-result-of-higher-demand-exports-and-investments.html

Czech Avia Prime purchases Serbia’s planes maintaining company

November 29, 2019

Serbia’s Economy Ministry decided to sell JAT tehnika planes maintaining company’s 99.4 shares to Avia Prime firm from Prague, media reported on Friday.

The Czech company and Swiss SR Technics were the only contenders.

Avia Prime has 100 percent of ownership in the Slovenian Adria Tehnika and Polish Linetech. Piotr Kaczor, Avia Prime CEO, said his company would try to put JAT tehnika at the highest world level in the maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) services,” where it traditionally belongs.”

JAT tehnika is based at the Belgrade “Nikola Tesla” airport. Its worth is estimated at 20 million Euros, with the starting tender’s price at 10.2 million.

The price Avia Prime paid for is not published.

The previous public call was annulled.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a548082/Czech-company-buys-Serbia-s-planes-maintaining-firm.html

Average net salary in Serbia in September € 456.80

November 25, 2019

The average monthly net wage in Serbia in September was 53,698 Dinars (456.80 Euros), nominally higher 12.1 percent than the same month in 2018, while a real income was 10.9 percent higher than at the same time last year, the Beta news agency reported on Monday.

The increase in January - September net wages compared to the same period in 2018 was 10.1 percent nominally and 7.9 percent in real terms.

The gross earnings in September were 74,160 Dinars (€ 631.21) and were nominally higher 11.9 percent than last September, and 10.7 in real terms for the same month.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a546816/Average-montly-net-ernings-EUR-456.80-Serbia-in-September.html 

PM: Serbia’s 2020 budget deficit at 0,3 pct of GDP; opposition: propaganda

November 20, 2019

Ana Brnabic, Serbia’s Prime Minister, tells the country’s Parliament on Wednesday the 2020 budget income is expected at 1,314 billion Dinars (1€ = 118 RSD), while the planned expenses are 1,334,7 billion RSD and that the budget deficit next year will be 20.2 billion RSD or 0,3 percent of the GDP, the Beta news agency reports.

She also said that the 2020 budget would contribute to the rise in living standard “in every sense,” and to the country’s economic growth and progress.

Brnabic added that the new budget would not imperil the economic growth and that the Government planned to reduce the public debt.

She said the estimated growth in 2020 would be four percent, while inflation should not go over two percent.

However, opposition MPs criticised the budget, saying it was a pre-election money plan.

Miroslav Aleksic from the People‘s Party, told reporters at the Parliament‘s hall, that the proposed budget was „irresponsible, non-transparent and pre-election“ plan.

„We have a very low level of envisaged investments; the Dinar exchange rate is unjustly low, unattainable and artificially held; we don‘t have a GDP growth and we have been at the lowest level in the region for eight years under this regime,“ he said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a545523/Serbia-plans-2020-budget-deficit-at-0-3-percent-of-GDP.html

Protest against bad air in eastern Serbia: Reduce pollution, doesn’t matter how

November 15, 2019

Several hundred people gathered outside the Zijin Mining company, the owner or 63 percent of the equity interests of the RTB copper mining and smelting complex in eastern Serbia, in a new protest against heavy air pollution caused by the Chinese firm, N1 reported on Friday.

The protest was supported by “Defend Stara Planina Mt Rivers,” the 1 in 5 million students’ organisation, and the Vice President of the opposition Party of Freedom and Justice (SSP) Borko Stefanovic.

“We ask for the elimination of pollution; we don’t care how,” Ivana Zivkovic, an SPP member and ecology activist told N1.

The Bor protesters said the town financially relied on the company and that was the reason for that only several hundred people turned out for the protest, demanding the reduction in pollution.

They added they didn’t want to chase the Zijin out of Bor but did want them to put people’s health above the profit.

The Bor residents said they asked for help from many institutions, but nothing happened. The only good news, they said, was that local authorities formed a group to deal with the air pollution problem.

They added they were informed the Zijin halved its production on Thursday to reduce the pollution, “but tomorrow we will again breath bad air.”

They also said they would continue with protests every Friday.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a544201/Eastern-Serbia-s-residents-protect-against-air-pollution.html

Serbian central bank denies Croatian media claims

November 15, 2019

The National Bank of Serbia (NBS) rejected Croatian media claims that it spent money from the former Yugoslavia’s state accounts in the 1990s, Belgrade daily Politika said on Friday.

Croatian media reported earlier this week that Zagreb is demanding 148.5 million Dollars from Belgrade, claiming that the money belongs to Croatia under the agreement on succession of the former Yugoslavia. According to Zagreb daily Vecernji List, there was a total of 645.55 million Dollars in Yugoslav state accounts but that Serbia informed the successor states before the succession talks began that there was just 56 million Dollars in them.  

“Claims that Serbia approved the spending or spent joint funds from the former Yugoslavia during the 1990s have no basis in evidence nor in logic since Serbia was under the sanctions of the international community at the time,” Politika was told by the NBS.  

The Serbian central bank said that the succession agreement says that only available funds will be divided and that the amount mentioned in Croatian media is “the accounting balance determined by all successor states”. According to the NBS, most mixed banks were bankrupt when the agreement was signed and “it was clear that the accounting balance would not be met” but that a total of 107 million Dollars was divided from four mixed banks “disproving the claims of 56 million Dollars”.  

It added that the Croatian media reports are groundless pressure due to the unrealistic expectations of the Croatian side before the meeting of the permanent mixed committee on succession which met in Zagreb on Wednesday.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a544047/Serbian-central-bank-denies-Croatian-media-claims.html

Serbian food processing industry records drop

November 12, 2019

Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti reported on Tuesday that the Serbian food processing industry has recorded a drop of up to 7.3 percent, making it a problem for the national economy.

The daily said that the meat industry has reported a drop in production following stable growth for the past 18 months. The meat industry recorded growth of 4-5 percent last year and in the first two quarters of 2019 but reported a drop of seven percent in August.  

Economy experts said that the drop was caused by the 100 percent tariffs on Serbian goods imposed by the Kosovo authorities, low export prices, an outbreak of the swine flu and the fact that some companies have been banned from exporting to Russia.  

Industrial production in Serbia rose 1.6 percent in September and the processing industry reported a rise of 1.7 percent, but the food industry’s bad results have halved the growth of the processing industry, the daily said quoting economy experts.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a543123/Serbian-food-processing-industry-records-drop.html

Serbia opens eastern leg of Corridor 10, connecting the country with Bulgaria

November 11, 2019

The final, 22-kilometre long section of the Corridor 10 highway from Prosek to Crvena Reka, was officially opened on Saturday, which marked the end of construction of the eastern leg of the Corridor 10 connecting Nis and Dimitrovgrad, towards the border with Bulgaria.

President Aleksandar Vucic said on this occasion that this is not the end of the construction works.

“We built the roads so that the Serbs can not only leave but also come back to Serbia,” said Vucic adding that Bulgaria has never been closer.

Besides Vucic, the opening ceremony was also attended by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov as well as many citizens.

The event marked the end of the construction works on the highway of the total length of 813 kilometres.

Bulgaria's Borisov said that the highway construction made the wall between Serbia and Bulgaria fall, comparing it to the Berlin Wall.

“Bulgarian industry will fully use that highway,” said Borisov adding that this road connected the east and the west.

The ceremony was also attended by Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, the Serb member of Bosnia's Presidency Milorad Dodik and the ministers in Serbia's and Bulgaria's governments.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a542473/Serbia-opens-eastern-leg-of-Corridor-10-connecting-the-country-with-Bulgaria.html

Serbia's economic growth disappointed, EBRD says

November 7, 2019

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said in its latest report that economic growth in the Western Balkans is slowing due to weaker global economic prospects, adding that growth “disappointed in Serbia.

“The EBRD sees economic growth moderating in the Western Balkans region in 2020, on the back of a weaker global economic outlook, along with the economic slowdown of the eurozone,” a press release said.  

The EBRD Regional Economic Prospects report said that growth in the Western Balkans was already weak in the first half of 2019 (down by 1 percentage point from 2018), with the exceptions of Kosovo and North Macedonia.  

“Growth disappointed in Serbia, with weak industrial production; exports from Fiat’s Serbian car plant have been falling. While the region has benefited from foreign direct investments (FDI), the local supplier base remains small, limiting the positive spillovers from FDI to the local economy,” the report said.  

“Economic growth subsided in Serbia during 2019. Unfavourable trends in industrial production continued in the first half of 2019, with industrial output declining by 2.0 per cent year on year on the back of falling production in mining and manufacturing, while utilities and agricultural output stagnated. As a consequence, the overall GDP growth rate slowed to 2.8 per cent year on year in the first half of 2019, from 4.4 per cent in 2018. The 2019 budget envisages a small deficit (0.5 per cent of GDP), while public debt stood at 54 per cent of GDP at the end of June 2019.” it said.  

According to the EBRD inflationary pressure was low thanks in part to a strong exchange rate. “Inflation initially picked up in 2019, reaching 3.0 per cent year- on year in April, but then fell back to 1.1 per cent in September, undershooting the lower bound of the central bank’s target band (3 ± 1.5 per cent). After keeping the policy rate unchanged at 3.0 per cent for more than a year, the central bank cut the rate again in the third quarter of 2019, to 2.5 per cent.” the report said.  

The report authors expect Serbia’s GDP to expand by 3.2 per cent in 2019 and 3.5 per cent in 2020. “Domestic demand should remain the main growth driver, while net exports are most likely to continue their negative contribution. The economic slowdown of the main trading partner, the European Union, and the slow pace of reforms within the country might act as a drag on growth in the near term and make it more volatile,” the EBRD said.  

The report said that there are no reliable assessments of the effects of the 100 percent tariffs on Serbian goods that the Kosovo authorities imposed but added that the negative effect on the Serbian economy could stand as high as 400 million Euro.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a541579/EBRD-expects-slower-economic-growth-in-Western-Balkans.html

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

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