Despite the fact that Plandište is categorised as a less developed municipality, it has huge potential in terms of arable land, water resources, infrastructure, ample hunting grounds, oil fields, twohundred- year-old parks, castles that date back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries and many other reasons that make it appealing to investors. Agriculture is the most developed economic branch here, with tourism – primarily hunting and rural – also having great potential. We should add to this the new Zapad (West) work zone, which covers eight hectares of land and has so far seen investments worth over 100 million Dinars. The zone’s infrastructure is due to be finished by the end of April this year.
Plandište is categorised as one of the less developed municipalities in Serbia. How high is unemployment locally and what is the situation when it comes to the municipality’s finances?
– Unemployment is one of the most difficult economic and social problems in Serbia and in the municipality of Plandište, where the unemployment rate has been high for a number of years. Overall economic and social trends have had an immediate impact on the situation and the tendencies on the labour market in terms of employment. According to the National Employment Service, the municipality has 1,614 unemployed persons and the local unemployment rate stands at approximately 35 per cent, which is much higher than the state’s average, despite the fact that the municipality has been doing everything in its power to increase employment through its measures of active employment policy and in collaboration with the National Employment Service, the competent ministry and the provincial secretariat.
In terms of the municipal budget, we have managed to repay most of our debts to our creditors and stabilise our finances, with a lot of difficulty and invested effort. Within our budget means we have been allocating a lot of funds for investments primarily aimed at boosting employment, implementing infrastructure projects and advancing agriculture.
What is hindering the development of this mostly agricultural municipality? Is it possible to make a living from agriculture?
– The majority of the municipal population is engaged in agriculture, mainly farming. We are in constant contact with our population and have been trying to boost agricultural production with the help of various subsidies and incentives.
WE HAVE MANAGED TO REPAY MOST OF OUR DEBTS TO OUR CREDITORS AND STABILISE OUR FINANCES, WITH A LOT OF DIFFICULTY AND INVESTED EFFORT. WITHIN OUR BUDGET MEANS WE HAVE BEEN ALLOCATING A LOT OF FUNDS FOR INVESTMENTS PRIMARILY AIMED AT BOOSTING EMPLOYMENT, IMPLEMENTING INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS AND ADVANCING AGRICULTURE
What is the local government doing to boost Plandište’s economic development?
– By providing incentives for all agricultural segments, primarily for farming and fruit growing, the municipality is trying to help so-called small producers. We have also been allocating substantial funds for our food industry, with an emphasis on the development of poultry farming.
Do you receive any help from the state and provincial authorities? We noticed that in April 2014 domestic company Jasmil opened a production facility here, thanks to the New Technologies Programme. Did this investment meet your expectations and are there any other state-assisted projects in the pipeline?
– The municipality of Plandište has excellent cooperation both with the state and provincial authorities. Thanks to the funds we obtained through competitions launched by the state and provincial bodies, we have managed to advance the municipal infrastructure, find jobs for a substantial number of young people, improve the municipality’s business environment and create favourable conditions for investors. I am confident that this successful cooperation will continue in the future.
In collaboration with the provincial government, we managed to secure some of the funds needed for the launch of Jasmil’s production facility in Plandište. The facility now employs 100 workers.
Following the arrival of Jasmil, the average salary in the municipality of Plandište increased, which pushed Plandište from the fourth to the third category in terms of the development level in the Republic of Serbia, which we consider a great success. In the following period we expect Jasmil to employ 50 more people and, by so doing, impact positively on the living standard in the municipality.
Two years ago it was announced that an industrial zone would be opened in Plandište. How far along is that project, which could substantially improve the municipality’s economic standing?
– Two years ago we opened a new work zone called Zapad (West|), which spans eight hectares. I am very pleased to say that the zone’s infrastructure will be completed in late April. The total value of this investment is around 100 million Dinars. Once the zone’s infrastructure is finished, we will have fulfilled yet another prerequisite for attracting investors.
TWO YEARS AGO WE OPENED A NEW WORK ZONE CALLED ZAPAD (WEST|), WHICH SPANS EIGHT HECTARES. I AM VERY PLEASED TO SAY THAT THE ZONE’S INFRASTRUCTURE WILL BE COMPLETED IN LATE APRIL. THE TOTAL VALUE OF THIS INVESTMENT IS AROUND 100 MILLION DINARS
How is Plandište attracting investors and how many have either arrived in the municipality or announced their arrival? What would you say is the municipality’s comparative advantage in terms of investments?
– By investing constantly in infrastructure, we have been striving to create a favourable business climate and environment, thereby facilitating the arrival of investors. In addition to Jasmil, we expect production to be launched in what used to be the Banatplast Company. With regard to the food industry, Vindija has employed quite a few people here in the last few years. We are also set for talks with a potential investor operating in the textiles industry.
You have now been the president of the Municipality of Plandište for four years. How did you personally contribute to the municipality’s development and what are your future plans if you remain in this position following the coming elections?
– First and foremost, finding jobs for young and educated people. We have managed to find jobs for the young people who have helped us to accomplish the aforementioned results. Of course, we should also not forget the significant results we achieved in stabilising our municipal budget.
We feel great responsibility in managing and leading the local government and the municipality has something to offer investors for the first time ever. Here I am referring to the industrial zone, where between 300 and 500 people will find jobs – as proposed by the Serbian Government.
Following the arrival of large global companies like Tönnies, the world’s biggest producer of pork, we expect another 100 new jobs to be created in the agriculture sector. There are also a lot of suppliers who are going to cooperate with the company. This is the only way to keep our rural areas alive.
Vindija is building four additional chicken farms and a meat processing facility that will employ another 150 people. Jasmil will stay here for at least another ten years and the company has plans to open a vocational textile school here.
We also plan to enable passenger transport on the Vršac – Plandište – Stari Lec railway segment (a monthly ticket would cost 1,500 Dinars). Dynamic economic growth will lead to an even better and bigger increase in budget funds, which will in turn facilitate better care of our children, youth, old and disabled people, improving healthcare and promoting sport, culture and rural development. Court proceedings regarding the sewer system in Plandište are over and works can now continue.
The blueprint of the Belgrade- Pančevo motorway project is finished and this road link will definitely pass through the municipality of Plandište, which will bring additional benefits to both existing and new investors, as well as to the municipal population. By having the motorway run through our municipality, we have managed to defend the municipality’s strategic goals and interests against a much stronger lobby coming from a neighbouring municipality.
In collaboration with our neighbour – Romania, we have submitted six projects for EU funding valued at over a million euros, while we also expect to be granted a permit to build a border crossing.
Maintaining local roads Plandište – Veliki Gaj and Banatski Sokolac – Miletićevo – Stari Lec, as well as maintenance and construction of other local roads, is among our priorities. All of the relevant projects have been drafted in line with new regulations.
We have no plans to change our property tax, which is the lowest in South Banat.