Despite the pandemic, Montenegro remains attractive to foreign investors. As such, member companies of the Foreign Investors Council continue to invest in the fields of tourism, energy, telecommunications and other areas
The new Montenegrin government is confronted by many challenges that have been brought by the pandemic, but the Foreign Investors Council considers Montenegro an attractive investment destination and its members intend to continue expanding their operations and making new investments in a number of sectors. They are also ready to provide the Government with constructive support in building up and improving the business environment, says MFIC Executive Director Ivan Radulović.
How many members does MFIC have today and which sectors do they come from?
– MFIC – as an association of the leading foreign investors in the country – was established in 2009 by just five companies, while today we have 43 members. The Council gathers together representatives of numerous and varied industries: banking and financial services, telecommunications, metallurgy and mining, energy, tourism and hospitality, real estate, the petroleum industry, port services, legal services, the FMCG sector, logistics, manufacturing, transportation, auditing and ICT.
Considering the COVID-19 pandemic and the decline in economic activity around the world, what investments are MFIC companies planning in Montenegro in the period ahead?
– Montenegro has become increasingly attractive to foreign investors since 2006, and I believe that the investment activities of MFIC member companies have contributed to Montenegro being recognised today as a modern country and an attractive destination for foreign investors.
The pandemic did not disrupt our plans significantly. The member companies of the Montenegrin Foreign Investors Council continue to invest in Montenegro and, with the implementation of planned investments already announced, in the 2020-2022 period they will invest approximately 1.5 billion euros. These are planned long-term investments aimed at completing projects already launched, as well as improving existing business processes.
According to the investment plans of our member companies, the largest investments are expected in the sectors of tourism (approximately 640 million euros), energy (approximately 166 million), electronic communications (approximately 90 million), trade (approximately 10 million), insurance (approximately 9 million) and the maritime domain (approximately 4 million), while the EBRD’s investments will amount to approximately 300 million euros.
In your opinion, what is the significance of the adoption of the Digital Transformation Strategy of Montenegro 2021-2025?
Digital transformation in the telecommunications industry globally, as well as here in Montenegro and indeed in any other country, is a constant journey, because innovative consumer products and services are being delivered and created all the time. In addition, the situation with the Coronavirus pandemic has indicated that information and communication technologies represent a turning point for modernisation and have the potential to further develop all sectors in Montenegro.
Transformation requires a digital transformation strategy that, like any strategy, looks at the goals, the current situation and how to move forward on a transformational journey in a way that makes sense and connects all relevant elements.
It is very important that the government has also recognised the importance of these processes, so it started drafting the Digital Transformation Strategy, the preparation of which also includes the participation of an MFIC representative
The basic preconditions for a successful digital transformation here in Montenegro are an adequate legal framework that enables the application of advanced solutions that are applied in a highly developed world. It is therefore important that the government pays special attention to digital transformation in the coming period. Of course, we see digitisation as the shared responsibility of the public and private sectors, who must create a reasonable and smart mechanism that will enable digital transformation aimed at improving the efficiency of administration, first and foremost, and then contribute to the sustainable development and growth of companies in the digital age. It is very important that the government has also recognised the importance of these processes, so it started drafting the Digital Transformation Strategy, the preparation of which also includes the participation of an MFIC representative.
Successful digital transformation represents a great chance for the economy, which has been shown by the examples of other small countries and the countries of the region. Further development of the Montenegrin economy and society implies digitisation as a development and transformation policy, and we expect digital transformation to be one of the government’s key policies in the period ahead.
What does the Montenegrin Foreign Investors Council expect from the new Government of Montenegro?
– The new government is confronted by many challenges, given that the situation with the pandemic has led to changes in business policies and has resulted in the decline of economic activity globally in the sectors of tourism, transport, energy etc., while on the other hand it has stimulated the development of the ICT sector. In the coming period, courageous, responsible decisions should be taken to stimulate the economy’s development in all sectors. We believe that the new government will respond to these challenges in the right way, and that it will continue its partnership with the business community in Montenegro, in order to build a stimulating business environment.
The Montenegrin Foreign Investors Council expects the new Government of Montenegro to continue activities initiated to improve the business environment and the competitiveness of the economy, primarily through the work of the Competitiveness Council and competent institutions. In the previous period we started talks with the government on the formation of a digital coalition, which would initiate and accelerate the digital transformation of business processes in public administration, especially in the context of the digitisation of e-services related to the economy. In that context, the adoption of the Digital Transformation Strategy is of special importance. We believe that the new government will recognise these priorities in the context of the current economic situation and the need to overcome the consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic.
What are the most important messages you have for the Government of Montenegro when it comes to improving the business environment and attracting foreign investments?
– Close and continuous communication with the government and public administration authorities remains an important tool of the MFIC in supporting our members in developing and enhancing their business operations in Montenegro. A timely dialogue in this context is essential for all stakeholders, as it would allow them to increase their efficiency in operational processes and avoid negative and harmful consequences for the entire business community. It is fair to say that this understanding is shared among stakeholders who are committed to continuing it in order to achieve the proper implementation and positive results of reforms introduced in different sectors. Due to the sensitivity of any investment to frequent changes in the legal and regulatory framework, this mutual commitment is crucial to the economic progress of Montenegro in the period ahead.
During our eleven years of work, continuous and timely communication with the government and public administration has remained an important task of the Council. Therefore, finding proper mechanisms and getting involved at different levels is essential and beneficial to both sides. One of the main missions of the MFIC is to be a constructive and reliable partner to public administration.