Investing in the modernising of education, encouraging companies to innovate by investing in research and development in collaboration with the academic sector, and the rule of law – these are three priorities that are crucial to achieving significant growth rates.
The new government will begin its mandate at a juncture when the COVID-19 epidemic is already reshaping everyday life and has shed new light on public policy priorities. There are a few important lessons. First, as in any crisis, in an epidemic situation individuals turn to the state and realise afresh how important and necessary it is for systems of public services to be efficient and available in an adequate capacity and quality. In this specific situation it is primarily about health, but the same would apply to education, security, justice, the social protection system etc.
A second important lesson is that the domestic scientific research sector is key to us resolving emerging problems and challenges. In this particular case, experts in certain fields – doctors, molecular biologists, virologists – were called for every day. The healthcare system and the system of science and education in the public sector have played a key role in the struggle to ensure the health of the population under the conditions of the pandemic, thanks primarily to professional individuals. Thirdly, those who previously resisted technological change have realised that the technological leap that occurred in the previous period offers great opportunities and that the benefits of digitalisation can be exploited far more than they have to date. Further digitalisation, both in the lives of individuals – through a different form of services and communication – and in the operations of companies – in the form of more efficient business models – is a deeply transformative process that demands continuous education and large initial investments for the sake of future positive effects.
In many areas of life we’ve become aware of local affiliations, the importance of connecting with the community in the form of local supply chains for products and services, as prerequisites for a sustainable economy
Finally, alongside all the technological achievements in the domain of ICT that connect us globally, enabling remote work and learning, increased efficiency with the help of artificial intelligence and virtual reality, many aspects of globalisation have been brought into question as a result of the pandemic. In many areas of life we’ve become aware of local affiliations, the importance of connecting with the community in the form of local supply chains for products and services, as prerequisites for a sustainable economy.
In light of previous insights, and on the trail of current priority policies for the development phase in which Serbia finds itself, the future government should make education the most important development priority. It should enable the aforementioned transformation of society and essential economic development. At the same time, investing in modernising education represents the most important pledge for future generations. The second important priority should be the economy. Here the government should, as much as possible, continue programmes for encouraging enterprises to innovate, invest in research and development, cooperate with the academic sector and identify foreign markets, but should also include local entrepreneurs in the network of suppliers of large international companies that have invested in the domestic market (and which have to date relied predominantly on imports of their components). The third important priority should be the judiciary, in order to enable the rule of law and appropriate conditions for doing business.
These three priorities are of crucial importance to achieving more significant growth rates, as they would mobilise the domestic knowhow and creativity that are not utilised sufficiently in the economy. The knowledge-based economy is the only direction that enables Serbia to make a qualitative leap in the trajectory of its development – both of the economy and of society.