Foreign Investors Council presented the White Book 2015 to the Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, the highest officials of the Serbian Government and representatives of stakeholder community. This year’s edition, 13th in a row, once again provides concrete recommendations for ease of doing business in Serbia. FIC members’ knowledge and expertise has been invested in this project with aim to assist Serbia in becoming more appealing for investments and smoothly and efficiently undergoing EU integration process.
At his introductory speech FIC President Ove Fredheim noted that "in-between two White Books the Government showed clear commitment in pursuing reforms, but there are still pending issues that need to be addressed to create a sustainable business environment. So far, Serbian Government improved the business climate through changes in construction permitting, land ownership and inspections’ system, while important structural reforms, better law enforcement and continuing harmonization with EU Acquis are expected”, Fredheim added.
According to the latest White Book, significant progress has been attained in real-estate, inspections, transport, and intellectual property, as well as in a number of different sectors: telecommunications, insurance, oil & gas and private security. In addition, certain progress has been marked in the areas of energy, environment, and overall legal framework (competition protection, courts, payments and money laundering). Least progress is marked in taxes, forex regulations, as well as in the fields of food & agriculture, leasing, pharmaceuticals, home care products and cosmetics. With regards to important area of labour, FIC fully recognizes significant reforms conducted in July 2014, but the White Book score card does not reflect this, as it monitors only the period between October 2014 -2015, which did not bring progress.
3 main FIC expectations from the Government are to accelerate structural reforms, improve the implementation of laws and continue harmonization with EU Acquis. On structural front, Government should invest stronger efforts to finalize privatization and corporatization of state-owned enterprises. In implementation, focus should be put on more consistent application of tax regulations, as well as efficient implementation of new laws on land conversion and inspections. Harmonization with EU Acquis should concentrate on changes of foreign exchange and data protection regulations, as well as regulation of para-fiscals and staff leasing.
At the White Book launch event, the highest Government’s officials and FIC Board members gathered in a panel to discuss ways to improve the business environment in Serbia. Opinions were exchanged between DPM and Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlović and Minister of Economy Željko Sertić, while FIC views were presented by FIC President and CEO of Telenor Ove Fredheim, FIC Vice President and CEO of Carlsberg Serbia Group Gabor Bekefi and FIC Vice President and CEO of Lafarge Serbia Dimitrije Knjeginjic.
About FIC: FIC continues to expand, gathering more than 130 foreign companies who have invested over EUR 23.5 billion, contributed to 18% of GDP in 2013, and directly employ more than 97,000 peoplein Serbia, based on further growth and inflow of new members. The main goal of the association is to influence the improvement of business climate in Serbia by making concrete reform proposals and building a business portal for communication with the authorities in Serbia. FIC is also focusing on promoting solid business ethics and high corporate governance principles within the organization and towards local companies, the Government, and other external stakeholders. Through support and active engagement of membership, FIC has proven to be a strict guardian of the business community interests and at the same time a reliable partner to the Government of Serbia and other relevant stakeholders.