The conference “Public-Private Dialogue For Growth” was organised on the occasion of a four-year project aimed to encourage public-private dialogue in Serbia, launched by USAID and NALED, worth more than $ 1.5 billion.
The project aims to establish mechanisms for improving public-private dialogue in Serbia, and in the first year of the project, three economic associations were selected to support public-private dialogue and three priority reform themes, jointly organised by the state and the business community.
It is about the initiatives of the Association of Beekeeping Organizations of Serbia to solve the problem of bee poisoning in Serbia, the Association for Entrepreneurship Development that advocates the improvement of the flat-rate taxation system and the Association of the Agro-Cluster of Serbia for the elimination of regulatory obstacles for the development of organic production.
At the opening of the conference, US Ambassador H.E. Kyle Scott said that public-private dialogue is a very important process that gives results.
“We saw this in the past when it comes to building permits and how this process stimulated Serbia’s economy,” Scott said, adding that the leadership of the Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlović was key to the success of the dialogue on the Law on Planning and Construction with involvement of the representatives of the economy and the civil sector. He added that the number of issued building permits in 2017 was 40 per cent higher than in 2016, and the growth of the construction sector by 25 per cent was recorded.
“These are important results when both the private and public sectors work together to bring laws that stimulate the economy,” the ambassador said, adding that NALED is a pillar of private-public dialogue.
Coca-Cola CEO and President of the Board of Directors of NALED Aleksandar Ružević said that the goal of the project is to create efficient public-private dialogue mechanisms that will enable the voice of the economy and businesspeople to be heard and appreciated when it comes to creating a regulatory framework that needs to be to stimulate investment, good business climate and growth of the economy in Serbia. He added that in 2017, as many as 60 percents of the laws of importance for the economy were passed by public hearings, and 90 percent of those laws were adopted urgently, and pointed out that public-private dialogue is imminent as a key issue, because, good laws and their application are important for the private sector and the growth of the economy.
Vice President of the Assembly of Serbia and President of the Economic Co-operation Vladimir Marinković expressed full support for the implementation of the project and stated that Parliament would continue to be committed to the dialogue.
“Public-private dialogue is something that Serbia needs most, and that is the minimum consensus between decision-makers, representatives of the economy and employees about the vision and development of our country,” Marinković said.
The chief economist for equitable growth, finance and institutions at the World Bank, William Maloney, said that in order to achieve the growth of the economy between four and six per cent, a necessary public-private dialogue is needed to understand the obstacles to achieving this growth.
In addressing the challenges of new technologies and innovations, Malone says, it is important that the private sector be ready to accept and expand, because “happiness always has in mind the one who came ready”, and Serbia adds that smile prepared.
“Everyone has to do homework. The private sector has to do the harder part of the job, and the government should provide a good ground for development,” Malone said. He advised Serbian businesspeople that on the road to achieving dynamic growth an important development plan for the company in the next five to ten years, good management and quality and skilful work that exists in Serbia. “Homework for companies is about competition – open up for competition. It’s crucial if you want development,” Malone said.
President of “Cardno International Development” from the US, Joseph Lowther, who has been running projects for improving the business climate in Serbia for several years, talked about the time when he came to Serbia he was impressed but reforms still could not be implemented. “The reason for this is an attempt to do everything at once and that there was no real dialogue. It was necessary to make a list of priorities,” said Lowther.