Big investors, leading international banks show interest in Serbia

Head of the Serbian delegation at the meeting with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, Minister of Finance Mladjan Dinkic, said that he is optimistic and hopes that by the year’s end, the three-year arrangement with the IMF will be completed with a decision on the write-off of a $700 million debt to the Paris Club of Creditors.

Dinkic announced that the talks will take place in early October when the IMF mission arrives in Belgrade, and added that, unlike the previous sessions, this year’s session of the IMF and World Bank was marked by big investors and leading international banks’ interest in Serbia.

He said that a lot has been done in Serbia and the country has received exceptional praise by the World Bank, whose report has influenced foreign investors to show considerable interest to invest in Serbia.

According to the Minister, the delegation had one meeting and three investment conferences with leading international banks, and for the first time, the largest American investment bank Merrill Lynch has made an official invitation to organise in the US a more extensive presentation of results of the transition process in Serbia.

Dinkic stressed that the World Bank has agreed to extend a new $56 million loan for the purpose of supporting the development of the finance and private sectors. This decision should be adopted by the Board of Directors in early November, Dinkic said adding that it was also agreed that realisation of other projects will continue.

He added that the World Bank has so far provided $180 million to Serbia for funding projects in the health and road sectors, water resources management and energy saving. These soft loans, that have not yet been used up, are interest free, with a 20-year grace period.

At a meeting with the Director of credit affairs with the European Investment Bank, it was agreed to approve two projects by the end of the year – in late October, an €80 million project on the modernisation of the Serbian railway system, and by the year’s end another project, worth €110 million, on the modernisation of Serbian health centres in Belgrade, Kragujevac, Novi Sad and Nis. Projects for the clearing-up of the river Danube and the building of a ring-road in Belgrade were set for 2006.