Mixed Verdict on Serbia Govt’s First 100 Days

Serbia’s new government has not lived up to its election rhetoric on the economy, corruption, education and health, experts said on Friday at the release of a joint BIRN-NALED report.The National Alliance for Local Economy Development, NALED, and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, presented a mixed picture of the government’s first hundred days when presenting the results of their joint monitoring of the government’s efficiency in key areas on Friday.

The report, “The First Hundred Days of Government”, says most success was achieved in reform of public income and spending with the abolition of 138 taxes.

The report said the government has started work on a quarter of the 46 recommendations set out in the economic document “Vision 2016”, which NALED and the German Organisation for International Cooperation, GIZ, collected at 12 round
tables held last year and at the beginning of this year.

According to the NALED’s monitoring of the implementation of “Vision 2016”, which dealt with how the governement treated suggestions of businessmen, significant progress was made in VAT reform, while some progress was made in reducing public spending.

However, participants at the Belgrade conference on Friday in general said the government had not done enough.

Ernst Bode, board member of NALED, said many problems still hindered businesses in Serbia, adding that the government still interfered in all aspects of the economy.

“Complicated and unclear procedures are still a huge problem, laws and bylaws are either outdated, completely unnecessary, unforcible or unclear – and sometimes implementation requires enormous efforts but gives very little results,” Bode said.

Nemanja Nenadic, programme director for the watchdog organisation Transparency Serbia, said the governement had the right intentions on fighting corruption in the field of public procurement.

But he warned that corruption in the biggest procurements still went unpunished. “Unfortunately we deal with peanuts,” he said.

He added that the fight against corruption should not be left to individual ministers but was a task for the government as a whole.

Although the government has undertaken various measures in the field of fiscal consolidation, experts on Friday agreed that without root and branch structural reform there will not be substantial impact, or much improvement in living conditions in Serbia.

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