Serbia has good foundations for the digitalisation of health and could progress very quickly and provide high-quality services that meet the level of the most developed EU countries. The FIC will strive to provide strong support to this process through the sharing of the knowledge and experiences of its members.
Despite COVID-19 having locked us in our homes, during the previous period we witnessed a lively exchange of opinions between the Government and the Foreign Investors Council, but also between the FIC and other actors, which enabled the society to adapt to the new circumstances quickly.
We asked our interlocutor, FIC Vice President and Spokesperson, and Roche General Manager, Ana Govedarica, which FIC activities she would single out as having been the most important during the previous period.
“COVID-19 is the cause of great challenges around the entire world, and thus also for Serbia, but it is also true that it has encouraged communities to move faster in some directions. As a result, there have been some extremely positive changes that might never have happened were it not for this pandemic, or which would have unfolded much more slowly. Confronted by this great threat, we began mutually cooperating and communicating much more: in terms of companies among themselves, even competing ones, the economy with the state and the entire community. To put it simply, we all realised that we will overcome this situation much easier if we stick together, and that’s how it has been. In spite of everything, life and the economy did not come to a complete standstill, the society spots the injuries and adapts to accelerated changes.
“During the previous period, the FIC represented a bridge between companies and the Government, cooperating extremely closely with the state, while members showed a huge degree of mutual solidarity and a desire to contribute to the normalisation of the situation, often giving more consideration to social interests than their own company ones.
“At the start of the pandemic, following the lockdowns of countries, it was important to maintain supply chains and flows of goods, so the FIC worked intensively, in cooperation with the state, to establish “green corridors” and very successfully, under the shortest possible timeframes, established almost unhindered movements of raw materials in all directions and routes.
“We realised how important it was for COVID- 19 not to lead to the cutting of communication; how important it is to strengthen digital platforms, primarily in the financial and healthcare system, so we worked, as a Council, to initiate and help to develop digital solutions.”
How has the Council maintained a dialogue with representatives of the EU, and how can that help Serbia progress in the EU accession process?
The European Investment Bank and the EBRD are permanent members of the FIC. The EU is the Council’s largest partner, because most of our members actually come from the EU.
All our member companies insist on adherence to the rule of law and standards that are applied in their home countries. The FIC is an association of companies that already operate in Serbia and have invested huge funds in the country. We are very well acquainted with this market, but also with the EU market, so we represent a strong link in connecting the EU and Serbian economies. In all the activities we conduct, our focus is on the creation of a predictable and stable business environment, with full respect for the law and rights, which represents a prerequisite for even stronger economic development and cooperation between the economies of Serbia and the EU.
In which areas has the FIC been most active with its own suggestions for alleviating the negative impacts of the pandemic?
I really must mention the fact that the Government of Serbia consulted with the FIC to a great extent in the creation of almost all regulations related to the economy. In that sense, the FIC has provided a strong contribution by sharing the expertise of all members with the Government, but also experiences and solutions from other countries where our companies operate. This enabled the Government to react swiftly and adopt the most optimal measures with regard to the situation that was changing at lightning speed.
Our aim is to work in cooperation with the Government to reach the goal of 50% of White Book recommendations being adopted, but, on the other hand, we understand that the Government is struggling against a pandemic and that not all activities can be priorities
What tools and techniques have you used to express your members’ opinions publicly?
Primarily digitalisation and the use of digital platforms. What was useful was that we were already using these tools intensively prior to the pandemic, so we were fully ready to use them on a larger scale.
What were the key achievements of the Working Group for the White Book during the previous period; and how close are we to the common goal of implementing at least 50% of the FIC recommendations contained in the 2021 White Book?
Cooperation between the Council and the Government is implemented through the activities of the Working Group for implementation of the recommendations contained in the FIC White Book, the goal of which is for 50% of recommendations to be adopted. On the other hand, we understand that the Government is struggling against a pandemic and that not all activities can be priorities. At the end of the day, the race we are running is a marathon, and not a sprint.
Due to the extraordinary circumstances, most companies didn’t measure the results of operations last year, but we consider that it is now time to continue working to achieve the goals that have been set.
What do you expect of the announced digitalisation of the Serbian healthcare system; and how can the FIC help in this process?
In short, the digitalisation of the Serbian healthcare system would enable patients to access the most efficient treatment methods, thus ensuring a longer and better-quality life, and a swifter recovery.
On the other hand, the healthcare system would be markedly more efficient in providing services, utilising resources and, most importantly, would have access to a huge database of information and knowledge, such that the epilogue would be efficient healthcare with reasonable spending. Finally, the system’s digitalisation is the only way to ensure the full use of the latest medical discoveries and procedures, which rely strongly on large databases and use of the latest technologies. As someone noted – a doctor and an engineer are equally important in treating a patient today, and I must add an economist, because, behind every investment in healthcare, there must be a clear calculation of why that investment is required.
The Government of Serbia has recognised the digitalisation of healthcare as being important and necessary, and is supporting it strongly. The FIC will help these efforts by sharing the knowhow and experiences of its members and other countries, as well as by launching initiatives that should create a social consensus for extensive digitalisation in healthcare.
Serbia has good foundations for the digitalisation of healthcare and could advance very quickly in that aspect and provide high-quality health services, along with increasing the availability of the latest therapies and treatment methods, that meet the level of the most developed EU countries.
The Government of Serbia consulted with the FIC to a great extent in the creation of almost all regulations related to the economy
Member companies have shown a huge degree of mutual solidarity during the pandemic, very often prioritising social interests over their own company ones
The digitalisation of the healthcare system is the only way to ensure the full use of the latest medical discoveries and procedures