World Bank urges Serbia to focus on privatisation

World Bank urges Serbia to focus on privatisation Linda Van Gelder; Source: World Bank

BELGRADE (Serbia), March 7 (SeeNews) - The World Bank's Western Balkans regional director Linda Van Gelder has said the completion of the privatisation of industrial enterprises and banks should be a top for Serbia, in order to sustain the reforms made by the government in the last years.

Serbia has spent 1.5 billion euro to rescue ailing state-owned banks and this amount could have been used to build all of the missing highways, Van Gelder said in a video file posted on the YouTube channel of Serbia's Economists Council on Monday. 

"RTB Bor, PKB, Azotara and some 600 other enterprises, in which the state holds a significant control will not create the new, innovative and internationally competitive products that can push Serbia's growth," Van Gelder said on Monday during the "Serbia Structural Reform Program" panel of the Kopaonik Business Forum.

Van Gelder stressed that Serbia needs a new, dynamic and innovative business-based model with knowledge and cutting-edge technologies.

The government can unleash the potential for private investors to enter, grow and exit the country if needed, by completing the state-owned enterprises' reform, doing the tax reform and improving the business climate, making it more predictable and transparent, she added.

In January, the World Bank said it lowered its projection for Serbia's economic growth in 2018 to 3.0% from 3.5% envisaged in its June 2017 Global Economic Prospects Report. Serbia's GDP is expected to grow by 3.5% in 2019 and 4.0% in 2020, the World Bank said in its January 2018 Global Economic Prospects report.

In Serbia, firms with foreign capital have more efficient production technology, better foreign marketing, and more research and development activity than firms that do not have foreign capital, the World Bank said back in January.

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