Serbia wants agreement with IMF "as soon as possible"

BELGRADE -- Serbia wants to sign an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as soon as possible, Finance Minister Dušan Vujović said on Wednesday.


He stressed that it is the government's intent to put reforms in place “calmly and resolutely” in the next three years with the high-impact package of measures in 2015.

In relations with the IMF, our intent is to begin with modest projections of GDP growth, the finance minister said.

He voiced the expectation that the production would revive, and that will be possible on condition that the production in the power industry is restored to the June level, the Smederevo-based steel mill is privatized and achieves an output of two million tons, the problem with the petrochemical complex is resolved and agricultural exports increased.

It is realistic to expect a GDP growth in 2015, Vujović told a news conference after the Serbian government adopted a budget review.

That is possible, providing fiscal consolidation measures, a significant increase in foreign direct investments and production for exports, he explained.

With the IMF, Serbia reached an agreement in principle on all thorny issues, and agreed on the core structure of the economic program, he noted.

This implies a major reduction in subsidies and introduction of certain fees such as transit taxes for gas whose price is currently below the market one, he explained.

He noted that the agricultural producers renting land will not be eligible for receiving state subsidies, and that the subsidies for Serbian Railways will be reconsidered, and they will certainly not be permanent.

The Fund agreed that the second part of adjustment should be public enterprises because of their importance, and we must take into consideration the structure of their workforce, efficiency, and pay grades, Vujović said, adding that enterprises will get the professional management.

All these measures will be taken so as to charter a path of sustainable development for Serbia and position the country as the leader in the region, Vujović said, adding that U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French Prime Minister Manuel Valls backed Serbia's course.