Minister Djelic attends EBRD Annual Meeting

Serbian Minister of Finance and Economy Bozidar Djelic is attending the Annual Meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent to present the results of Serbia’s economic reforms. Addressing the EBRD Board of Governors, Djelic said that Serbia and Montenegro authorities are firmly continuing on the path of reform despite the tragic assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.

According to Djelic, the medium-term goal of Serbia and Montenegro is to increase economic growth and employment, living standards and efficiency.

„A prerequisite for sustainability of initiated reforms and economic growth is macroeconomic stability. We indeed have restored macroeconomic stability, however to maintain it, we need to speed up economic and social reforms,“ said Djelic.

According to the Minister, Serbia’s banking sector has undergone substantial changes through the closure of 23 insolvent banks, the payment system reform, and the beginning of the bank privatization processes. Serbia plans to sell controlling stakes in nine banks over the next three years, starting with three banks this year, said Djelic, adding that Montenegro has just completed the sale of Montenegro Bank.

„Our aim is to create monetary and financial sector stability by maintaining a tight monetary policy and completing the reconstruction of the banking sector,“ he said.

Economic restructuring is dependant on the successful continuation of the privatization process, said Djelic. Although Serbia successfully completed 611 privatization deals totaling € 507 million over the past two years, a number of state and socially owned companies are yet to be privatised, the Minister added.

According to Djelic, Serbia must secure significant foreign direct investments to accelerate the process of economic recovery and increase output and employment.

„Foreign financial assistance will be of crucial importance in the coming years as to maintaining macroeconomic stability, coupled with fiscal adjustment and accelerated economic restructuring, privatization, solving the unemployment problem by encouraging the formation of new enterprises and new employment, rehabilitation of infrastructure, as well as the implementation of social programs with a view to alleviating the consequences of a high level of poverty,“ said Djelic.

„Recent talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have shown that we will be enjoying their wide support in the years to come,“ said Djelic. He added that official negotiations with the European Union towards the conclusion of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement will secure a legal framework for mutual cooperation with the EU countries and the region, and gradual adoption of European standards.

Serbia and Montenegro offered to host the EBRD Annual Meeting in 2005 in Belgrade. According to Djelic, hosting the EBRD Annual Meeting would give a significant boost to Serbia’s economic reforms.