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DAILY SURVEY 05.10.2018.
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SERBIA

DACIC, KOUMOUTSAKOS ON SERBIAN-GREEK FRIENDSHIP

BELGRADE, 4 October 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic and chief of the foreign policy board of Greece's biggest opposition party - the New Democracy, Giorgos Koumoutsakos, said on Oct. 4 that relations between Serbia and Greece were based on a firm friendship and the historical closeness and solidarity of the two peoples. A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs quoted Koumoutsakos as saying that the New Democracy supported Serbia's sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as the process of Serbia's European integration. The two officials also discussed current dynamics in the region.

BRNABIC: EU MEMBERSHIP NUMBER ONE QUESTION FOR WESTERN BALKAN STATES

BELGRADE, 4 October 2018 (Beta) - Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Oct. 4 that for all countries of the Western Balkans membership in the EU "is the number one question" and that Serbia hoped to join in 2025. "It is in Serbia's interest to become a member of the EU and even if that does not happen in 2025 Serbia will continue the reforms," Brnabic said at an EU-Southeast Europe Summit organized by The Economist. She stressed that all the countries in South East Europe wanted to join the EU, with the only difference being that some also wanted to join NATO and others did not. She stressed that the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina was difficult, but that Serbia was flexible and tolerant despite provocations and that it was looking for a compromise solution. She said that the EU was neutral where Kosovo was concerned, but that it was important to Serbia to resolve the dispute because it did not want to leave a frozen dispute for future generations to deal with. The financial and economic outlook for the Balkans and a European energy plan for the period until 2050 will be considered at the summit on Oct. 5.

INTERIOR MINISTER DISCUSSES COOPERATION WITH GERMAN AMBASSADOR

BELGRADE, 4 October 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic met in Belgrade on Oct. 4 with German Ambassador Thomas Schieb to discuss cooperation between the police forces of the two states. A statement said that measures were agreed during the meeting which would be carried out for the purpose of cooperation through training and which would increase the knowledge and skills of border police in Serbia for more efficient border protection. Stefanovic and Schieb stressed good cooperation between the police forces of Serbia and Germany, as well as cooperation in border management.

INTERIOR MINISTER MEETS WITH SLOVAK AMBASSADOR TO DISCUSS COOPERATION

BELGRADE, 4 October 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic met on Oct. 4 with Slovak Ambassador Dagmar Repcekova to discuss improving police cooperation in the area of fighting organized crime, terrorism and border management. A statement said that Stefanovic and Repcekova stressed good cooperation between Serbian and Slovak police forces in securing and protecting the Serbian state border since the onset of the migrant crisis. The minister underscored that good police cooperation meant numerous possibilities to exchange experiences in battling organized crime, but that it also confirmed good relations between the two peoples.

EU TO FINANCE PROJECTS IN 37 SERBIAN LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT UNITS WITH EUR4.5 MILLION

BELGRADE, 4 October 2018 (Beta) - The European Union will finance with EUR4.5 million the implementation of local infrastructure projects in 37 local self-government units within the EU PRO development program, with the purpose of raising the quality of life for citizens, the EU PRO program announced on Oct. 4. A statement said that the projects would chiefly improve conditions in cultural and sports institutions, schools and kindergartens, health and social care institutions, and would also be geared toward improving communal infrastructure "which will especially contribute to creating better living conditions for the male and female members of vulnerable groups." The projects will be conducted in Bela Palanka, Babusnica, Batocina, Cajetina, Dimitrovgrad, Golubac, Kragujevac, Kraljevo, Knjazevac, Ljubovija, Priboj, Prijepolje, Pozega, Rekovac, Surdulica, Svilajnac, Sabac, Uzice, Velika Plana and Vladicin Han. Sports and cultural objects will be revamped and built giving the local population "adequate conditions for playing sports, while cultural content will be advanced at the local level." Conditions for staying, studying and working in schools and kindergartens will be improved in Leskovac, Merosina, Prokuplje, Sjenica and Smederevo, with a special emphasis on energy efficiency and the safety of buildings. Communal infrastructure, i.e. waterworks, sewage and public lighting systems will be advanced in ten municipalities: Aleksinac, Boljevac, Bosilegrad, Bujanovac, Doljevac, Kucevo, Kursumlija, Raska, Trgoviste and Valjevo, while a social care center will be reconstructed in Zabari with the help of the EU, along with a healthcare center in Zagubica. The public call, which opened on April 26 and ended on June 29, 2018 saw 46 project proposals arrive, while one of the conditions was the existence of a construction permit and financially participating in at least 15 percent of a project's value. Thus, 37 local self-government units whose projects have been approved will participate in their realization with EUR1.6 million for a combined EUR6.1 million for all the projects. EU PRO said that during the implementation of the projects a special emphasis would be placed on honoring the principle of good governance, which will help local self-governments be more efficient, transparent on a daily basis and increase the participation of citizens.

AMBASSADOR KEEFE: BALKAN COUNTRIES' EU MEMBERSHIP IS IN BRITAIN'S INTEREST

BELGRADE, 4 October 2018 (Beta) - British Ambassador to Belgrade Denis Keefe said on Oct. 4 that it was in the interest of his country for Balkan countries to complete the path of reforms and reconciliation and join the European Union. Membership in the EU will bring these countries closer to the union of our shared values, Keefe said at the gathering titled Sustainable Recovery in the Balkans - Serbia in the Leading Role. He said Great Britain would continue to be an important member of NATO and other international organizations, such as the World Trade Organization, even after its exit from the European Union. As difficult as negotiations with the EU are, we are continuing to give a strong contribution to security, fight against terrorism and climate change, Keefe said. He said the Brexit process was difficult and that there were many things to decide on, and that the EU, as he said, was obviously not prepared to change certain things in order to adapt to the new situation. The process is difficult because it is about identity, future, peace and prosperity of us all, Keefe said.

ECONOMY

MALI: IMF PLEASED WITH SERBIA'S PROGRESS, EXCELLENT RESULTS IN 2019

BELGRADE, 4 October 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Finance Minister Sinisa Mali said on Oct. 4 that fiscal results for 2018 had been estimated with the IMF and that a budget surplus of RSD28.3 billion (0.6 percent of GDP) was expected. National Bank of Serbia Governor Jorgovanka Tabakovic also said she was pleased with the results. "This is the third year that we have a budget surplus and a record year in economic growth," Mali told reporters in Belgrade. For 2019, he announced continued positive trends and economic growth of 3.5 percent, with a stable and low inflation of 2.3 percent. The planned result for 2019 is a deficit of around RSD28 billion (0.5 percent of GDP). The unemployment rate, he added, was 11.9 percent in the second quarter of this year.

IMF: SERBIA'S GDP GROWTH HIGHER THAN PREDICTED THIS YEAR, PENSION INDEXING AS OF 2020

BELGRADE, 4 October 2018 (Beta) - The mission of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated on Oct. 4, at the end of their visit to Belgrade for the first consideration of the new arrangement, that it expected Serbia's real GDP growth to be 4.2 percent this year and 3.5 percent in 2019, and indicated that structural reforms should be accelerated. The full implementation of the program of structural reforms will have additional positive effects on the growth potential, reads the statement of IMF Mission chief James Roaf. It was pointed out that total inflation in Serbia increased to 2.6 percent in August and that it was expected to stay around the middle of the three-percent target band during 2018 and 2019. Good macroeconomic results are still being accomplished. In 2018, growth accelerated thanks to private spending and dynamic foreign direct investments and exports. Conditions on the labor market continued to improve, with significant growth of employment in the formal sector, a drop in unemployment and stable growth of salaries in the private sector, Roaf said. He added that, according to estimates, the general level of the state would register a surplus in the amount of 0.6 percent of GDP, with the higher than expected execution of capital spending. The public debt should fall under 55 percent of GDP by the end of the year, while yields on state securities have stabilized at levels close to historic minimums. Considering the positive fiscal results, the government abolished the temporary reduction of pensions, dating back to the crisis period, which will come into effect in November 2018, while making sure that the overall share of pensions in GDP does not increase, Roaf said.

WB: SERBIA'S ECONOMIC GROWTH AROUND FOUR PERCENT IN 2020

BELGRADE, 4 October 2018 (Beta) - The World Bank (WB) has estimated that economic growth in Serbia will reach 3.5 percent in 2018 and around four percent after two years, reads the report of this international financial institution, titled Higher, but Fragile Growth, published on Oct. 4. Thanks to faster growth, the unemployment rate fell to 12.5 percent of working age population by the second quarter of 2018, which is 2.9 percent less than in the first quarter, it was stated at the presentation of the World Bank's report in Belgrade. Representatives pointed out that the budgets of the central and general levels of government had registered a surplus in the first half of the year, and it was expected to add up to 0.6 percent of GDP by the end of the year. The World Bank has estimated that the projected four percent growth of Serbia's economy in 2020 will depend on the dynamic of structural reforms and progress in EU accession, and that Serbia will complete the reform of some of the largest state enterprises and banks by the end of the year, although political events have cast a shadow on economic reforms to some extent. A senior economist of the World Bank, Lazar Sestovic, said that growth in exports and foreign investments was the basis for this projection. "Growth in exports is the most solid development strategy for Serbia, and domestic spending is also recovering due to an increase in salaries and pensions. I think these two components will significantly improve economic growth in the next two years," Sestovic told reporters after the presentation of the World Bank's report.

CONTRACT SIGNED ON SALE OF PKB TO AL DAHRA

BELGRADE, 4 October 2018 (Beta) - Representatives of the Ministry of Economy signed a contract on Oct. 4 with the Irig-based Al Dahra, on the sale of property of the PKB agricultural corporation for EUR105.055 million. The mother company of the buyer is the Al Dahra company from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The acquisition consists of 16,785 hectares of PKB's land in the Belgrade quarters of Palilula and Surcin, and in Zrenjanin, of facilities, equipment and spare parts, and the property of subsidiaries - Ekolab, PKB Agroekonomik Institute and the PKB Veterinary Station. An additional sum will be paid apart from the sale price, for the herd of PKB, according to the count that will be performed directly before the buyer takes possession, which will amount to 100 percent of the appraised value on the day of the count. The Ministry state secretary, Dragan Stevanovic, who signed the sale contract with Khedaim Abdulla Alderei from Al Dahra, said the price for the herd would be a little over EUR17 million. According to the contract, Al Dahra is to invest EUR30 million in technology, machinery and replenishing the herd. All current employees of PKB will be offered new contracts, but it has been estimated that it is optimal for the company to have 1,000 employees in the next three years. According to an earlier agreement with the trade union, those who are not required will be offered severance pay in the amount of EUR450 per year of employment.

IKEA IN SERBIA: FIRST YEAR RESULTS GOOD, NEW EUR50 MILLION INVESTMENT ANNOUNCED

BELGRADE, 4 October 2018 (Beta) - On Oct. 4 IKEA released a statement saying that it had achieved good results in its first year of business in Serbia and that sales had surpassed RSD5.6 billion (EUR47.2 million), as well as that it planned to invest an additional EUR50 million in building a Belgrade retail center. IKEA's shopping center in Bubanj Potok, Belgrade reported 1.8 million visitors, while over 10.4 million people visited the ikea.rs website. For a young market such as the Serbian one, these are very good business results and we see many positive trends. IKEA is here to stay and I am very happy today to be able to announce that we have begun preparations for building a Belgrade shopping mall which will be located next to our store, IKEA Serbia director and IKEA GM for South East Europe Stefan Vanoverbeke said. This move is a demonstration of the strong commitment of IKEA to the Serbian market and our desire to continue developing our business, we are expanding the Bubanj Potok commercial zone and supporting local economic development, Vanoverbeke said. IKEA has a market share of 11 percent in Serbia, which is the highest in the region of South East Europe.

DAILY SURVEY

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