Public sector layoffs in 2015, privatization bill "in July"

Serbia's economy is facing a turning point and its biggest problems lie in the political practice, Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Kori Udovički has stated.

Source: Tanjug
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Problematic areas also include "administrative culture and regulations, which is why some changes are needed," she was quoted as saying by Tanjug.

Addressing the 14th Economic Summit with Tanjug Biz as its media partner, Udovički, who also serves as minister of public administration and local self-government ,said that Serbia must not allow itself to live off loans because in this case the country was "its own biggest enemy."

She underscored that Serbia needs investments, which demands economic growth.

According to her, the state administration is not coordinated enough - however, the reason for this is "not lack of political will but lack of coordination mechanisms between the government capacities and the government and institutions in the state system."

She noted that the authorities will work on a package of laws concerning the public administration system, civil servants and local self-government which should be adopted in the fall.

The minister added that "the 2015 budget must reflect the rationalization plan" and noted that "irrationalities are numerous in the public sector which employs 760,000 people."

" This is the reason why foreign investors often face problems," Udovički said.

The Beta news agency is reporting that she "did not wish to say how many public sector workers were a surplus," but stated it was "certain that the state administration employs some 28,000 people, while the public sector has 760,000."

New bill and new tender

"A new privatization bill, which will allow for fair, efficient and market-based finalization of the privatization of 600 companies that are in limbo, is expected to enter parliamentary procedure in July," Serbian Minister of Economy Dušan Vujović said on Tuesday.

On the second day of the 14th Economic Summit Vujović said that slightly fewer than 2,300 companies have been privatized pursuant to the old privatization law, adopted in 2001.

A total of 161 companies are now in the process of being restructured, he added.

A 20-day public debate on the new privatization bill will start on Wednesday in four Serbian cities - Kragujevac, Niš, Novi Sad and Belgrade. the minister announced, adding that the first privatizations are to be completed by February 2015.

Once adopted, the new privatization law will make it possible to finish the privatization of socially-owned capital by December 31, 2016, he said.

Vujović also announced the adoption of the bankruptcy law, the new public companies law and the incentives law.

He also said that "the Serbian government will have a solution for the Smederevo steel mill (Železara) in September," and that there were "seven or eight interested investors this time."

Vujović said that the first tender for the Smederevo plant is expected to be published in early July, and that this will done pursuant to the new privatization law, which will be adopted in the meantime.

"Discussions have already been held with two investors, and we will speak to others as well. I expect that we will finish all preliminary discussions by the beginning of July and publish an invitation to all investors interested to submit official bids in a tender procedure," Vujović said.

The authorities have been looking for a strategic partner for the Smederevo steel plant since February 2012, when U.S. Steel sold the company back to the Serbian government, and so far two tenders have failed.

The list of potential investors who have visited the plant since the beginning of the year includes companies from the EU, and companies from the U.S. and Russia have also expressed interest in the project.

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