Deputy Prime Minister for Economic and Regional Development Verica Kalanovic announced yesterday that the new strategy of regulatory reform is in preparation, which will simplify administrative procedures and improve the competitiveness of enterprises in Serbia.
Speaking at the presentation of the project of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) for better business conditions, Kalanovic explained that the Serbian government’s Office for regulatory reform is preparing a new strategy and that the existing act should be applied until the end of the year.
She said that a USAID survey, which included more than 1,000 companies from Serbia, shows that companies are faced with a lack of capital, high taxes on wages, inflation and heavy administrative procedures and regulations.
Nevertheless, 51% of firms expect to increase profits over the next year, and only 14% expects lower profits, the Deputy Prime Minister stated.
The Serbian government’s goal is that our country advances on the World Bank’s list of business conditions by 20 places by 2013, since now it is on the bottom of the list.
Minister-Counsellor at the US Embassy to Serbia Earle Litzenberger assessed that Serbia made great strides in improving business conditions, noting that this can be seen by the fact that Serbian exports and foreign investment in Serbia is growing despite the economic crisis in Europe.
Income tax and contributions biggest problem
Head of the Business Enabling Project (BEP) of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Joe Lowther said Thursday that the biggest problems in the Serbian economy are income tax and high contributions, difficulties in getting building permits and a slow judiciary.
Appearing on Radio and Television of Serbia, Lowther said only seven percent of Serbian companies export their product and that an economy which wants to enter the EU needs to export.
Entrepreneurs list the exchange rate and inflation as major problems, Lowther said referring to the results of a USAID poll which asked 1,000 companies about business conditions in Serbia.
Despite the dissatisfaction with the business climate, 51 percent of the companies surveyed expressed optimism and said they were planning to increase their profit and hire more people over the next year, Lowther said.
The regulatory guillotine was carried out successfully, yet 83 percent of the respondents said the bureaucratic burden has not diminished in the last year, Lowther said, pointing out that cutting paperwork would results in huge savings.
Lowther said Serbia needs to introduce changes in legislation, increase credit activity, which is at a low level, set up a fund for small companies and reign in inflation which is a burden on companies.