Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Roundtable Held on Partnership Strategy with Serbia for 2012- 2015
The National Assembly’s Finance Committee and World Bank Office in Serbia organised a roundtable intended for the MPs and employees at the National Assembly Service, titled Partnership Strategy with Serbia for 2012- 2015.
At the roundtable, the World Bank presented its Programme Proposal for the period and opinions were exchanged on the projects the World Bank would support in Serbia in the next four years.
Loup Brefort, Head of the World Bank Office in Serbia had a brief presentation on the activities the organisation planned to implement in the next four years in Serbia. Brefort reminded that the last strategy was passed in 2007 and that 11 projects were underway in Serbia at present, some of which have already been implemented, while some are being completed. The most important project at present is the support to the construction of part of Corridor 10, sections Nis-Bulgarian border and Nis-Macedonian border, as well as support for agricultural and health projects, energy efficiency i.e. gasification project in Serbia, and financing public infrastructure and aiding the budget – the so called “closing” of the budget deficit. Brefort mentioned that the World Bank grants the most favourable loans listing as example the 17-year loan with a 5-year grace period and LIBOR+0,4% margin interest rate. Presenting the plans for the 2012-2015 period, as agreed with the Government, Brefort stressed that the World Bank would, first of all, finance the development of economic competitiveness and invest into the social sector, with a special focus on alleviating the effects of the global crisis on the citizens. In the next two years the World Bank will invest between 350 and 400 million USD into projects in Serbia which will be followed by an audit which will in turn provide the basis to make a decision, in 2013, on the funds to be invested in the next two years in order to complete the projects. The financial support of the budget and reform of public consumption will be continued, and it is also planned to invest considerable funds into maintaining the road/magisterial infrastructure on the Corridor 10 strech. In addition, they will continue to finance health care programmes, primarily aimed at the procurement of equipment for health care centres and the improvement of civil heathcare.
Speaking of potential new projects, Brefort stated that the World Bank is interested in investing into energy efficiency projects, the labour market (new skill development programmes for employees), and, in particular, programmes intended for the agricultural sector. The projects will be original and will not overlap with the projects implemented in Serbia by other international financial organisations. Projects in Serbia with a regional character will receive special support such as projects relating to flooding protection along the Drina and Sava rivers.
Completing the presentation of the future activities of the World Bank, the Head of the World Bank Office in Serbia stressed that there are risks to the implementation of the strategy such as the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections, the impact of the crisis in Europe and the slow pace of privatisation in Serbia.
Following the presentation, the MPs and World Bank representatives discussed the risks to the implementation of the strategy, Serbia’s fulfillment of its obligations to the organisation, primarily paying the granted debts, influence of the crisis onto employment in Serbia, continuation of the dialogue on the pension sector reform and problems Serbia faces in the process, supporting agrobusiness and agricultural production, completing the legislative framework for agriculture, land management as regards quality and irrigation, passing a new agriculture strategy in Serbia which would move the goals toward primary product processing, as well as the projects to be financed by the World Bank which would provide new employment opportunities in Serbia.
At the end, Loup Brefort invited the MPs to the presentation of the new memorandum of economic efficiency to be presented next week in Belgrade, reminding them that all the documents passed by the organisation are public.
The round table was attended, on the behalf of the Finance Committee, by Finance Committee Deputy Chairperson Branka Ljiljak and Committee members Jorgovanka Tabakovic, Igor Becic and Milan Vuckovic, as well as Agriculture Committee members Arpad Fremond and Sinisa Stamenkovic, and employees of the National Assembly Support Service.