Serbia plans to become a ‘developed country’

15 Aug 19

Serbia has set its sights on becoming a “developed country with quality living conditions” after the “successful consolidation” of its public finances.

The Balkan nation has experienced stable economic growth recently, and the government budget has recorded a surplus for two consecutive years.

The remarks were made by minister of finance Sinisa Mali, who said he wants to take advantage of the country’s stable finances to “improve people’s lives”.

While announcing new investment in new major roads, Mali said yesterday: "The years to come are the years of our country's development.

“With a higher rate of growth and investment, we want to encourage further growth in the quality of life of citizens.”

On Sunday Mali said the Balkan nation would press on with investments to “completely change the face of Serbia in the next few years”.

He referred to the road network the government is already building and the sewage networks around the country that are expected to follow. 

Serbia is also planning to spend big on digital infrastructure, flats for “young couples”, investments in energy infrastructure, tourism, agriculture and entrepreneurship, the government has said.

There are no set criteria for what qualifies as a ‘developed country’, but it usually means quality infrastructure, relatively highly paid citizens and a strong score on the human development index.

Serbia is the 67th highest country in the world on the UN’s human development index (which seeks to measure ‘long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living’).

Last year Serbia increased its minimum wage by 8.6%, and Mali has said he does not expect this year’s pay rise (to be decided in the next three weeks) will be below that figure.

In July, the IMF reviewed Serbia’s economic performance.

It found growth in 2018 rebounded after a drought in 2017 to 4.3%, the fastest pace in 10 years.

Public debt fell by about 15% of gross domestic product since the beginning of 2017, thanks in part to the consecutive government surpluses.

Unemployment in Serbia has also declined, “important” reforms have been made to modernise tax and efforts to address money laundering have made “substantial progress”.

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