The White Book, written by members, is the major product by which, for more than a decade, FIC gives recommendations aimed at supporting economic growth and better living standards for Serbian citizens. The event was opened with an introductory address by FIC President Yana Mikhailova, followed by insight into FIC Index 2019 by White Book Editor-in-Chief Miroljub Labus, as well as addresses by the Head of the EU Delegation in Serbia H.E. Sem Fabrizi and Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić.
In her introductory speech, FIC President Yana Mikhailova noted that “in-between two White Books Serbia continues steady but moderate progress on reforms. On a positive note, this year we have 41% progress in the partial implementation of White Book recommendations from 2018, which is higher than the average of 30-40% from 2011, when the White Book scorecard was first introduced. This year we achieved 7% better progress compared to last year, and we welcome this achievement and hope that this positive trend will continue in the months to come. We therefore strongly recommend the further acceleration of reforms with the joint goal of coming as close as possible to 50% in implementation of the White Book recommendations next year.
Three key FIC expectations from the Government are to continue and accelerate membership negotiations with EU, as means of improving both business regulations and their implementation; work on sustainable fiscal consolidation (structural reforms, especially the privatisation and corporatisation of state-owned enterprises) and improvements in the implementation of law, especially in the tax area (strengthening tax administration), with a focus on reforms in nine priority topics: tax, labour, digitalisation& e-commerce, real estate, inspections, food safety, pharmaceuticals and the overall legal framework, with an emphasis on regulations on bankruptcy and foreign exchange operations,” concluded Mikhailova.
According to the “FIC Index” published in the newest edition of the White Book, in the period between November 2018 and October 2019, the two top performers remain the same as last year: tobacco and transport, while this year we have two new: oil and gas and notary. However, there is still room for improvement in areas seen as priorities by the FIC. Of the nine priority topics of the FIC-Government White Book Task Force, digitalisation, anti-illicit trade, bankruptcy and pharmaceuticals mark moderate progress, real-estate and tax mark some progress, while labour, forex and food safety lack progress.
In the active panel discussion on ways to improve the business environment in Serbia, opinions were exchanged between Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlović, Head of the EU Delegation in Serbia Sem Fabrizi, Minister of Labour, Employment, Veterans and Social Policy Zoran Đorđević, as well as FIC President and Market Head – Nestlé South East Market Yana Mikhailova.