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FIC Presented the White Book 2023

The Council of Foreign Investors (FIC) presented...

Comment

New Approaches Reinforce Economic Growth

Announced easing inflation and faster economic growth...

Mike Michel, President Of The Foreign Investors Council And CEO Of Yettel

Serbia Should Return To Investment-led Growth

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Jorgovanka Tabaković, Governor Of The National Bank Of Serbia

Combating Inflation Is A Priority

We believe that FDI inflows will reach...

News

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Dejan Turk, FIC Vice President (CEO Of A1 Srbija And A1 Slovenija)

Unrestricted Development For New Technology

We hope that preparations for maintaining the network, as well as the actual auction for allocating the right to use 5G network radio frequency bands, will be conducted in a transparent and efficient manner and under the shortest possible timeframes. We, at A1, are committed to developing in accordance with the new spectrum and are fully prepared for the introduction of 5G technology

Serbia is highly integrated into the European market, as is confirmed by data on direct investments, Serbian exports and imports, but also by recession and expansion phases, given that the Serbian economy depends greatly on economic movements within the EU.

“That synchronicity is lacking when it comes to institutional settings in the EU,” assesses FIC vice president and A1 Srbija and A1 Slovenija CEO Dejan Turk. “An unstable neighbourhood, issues of energy stability and monetary stabilisation, and consequent changes to GDP growth factors, i.e., an increased focus on consumption and internal trade during the pandemic period, all had an impact on the level of foreign investments in Serbia reducing. Despite the recording of a recovery from the direct negative impacts of the Covid-19 crisis, the further impact of events in Ukraine on FDI remains uncertain.”

To what extent has relatively high inflation and low economic growth in Serbia and across Europe impacted on your members’ business activities and the creation of jobs?

The Serbian economy depends on economic trends in the EU. The turmoil in Ukraine brought an abrupt end to the recovery from the crisis that was caused by the global pandemic and brought new risks. Companies are confronted by rising business costs and aggravated conditions for conducting their activities – supply chains have been broken due to economic sanctions, and alongside the shortage of electricity, prices of natural gas and oil, energy and food are continuing to rise. Inflationary pressures have led to a restrictive monetary policy, while rising interest rates are reflected on all market players.

The falling GDP in the eurozone, as well as the announced slowdown in economic activity in 2023, particular on Serbia’s key export markets, will have significant implications for the Serbian economy and could influence a slowdown in economic activity. As far as unemployment is concerned, it is structural and relatively impervious to inflation and GDP changes.

Which of the initiatives of the Government of Serbia in the area of telecommunications would you highlight as being the most important to further economic development and the building of a knowledge-based economy?

That is undoubtedly the announcement of the auction for allocating frequencies for the 5G network, alongside joint cooperation between the state and the industry on selection of the model and period of public bidding. Operators have limited existing capacities, and in the best-case scenario we will be able to use the existing networks for three more years at the most. We hope that preparations for maintaining the network, as well as the actual auction for allocating the right to use 5G network radio frequency bands, will be conducted in a transparent and efficient manner and under the shortest possible timeframes, and with a price that will enable the unrestricted development of new technology and its swift implementation, in accordance with positive examples from surrounding countries.

Significant developments that will have a lasting impact on the competitiveness of the Serbian economy include the qualified electronic certificate and signature in the cloud, eFiscalization, and payments via the national Instant Payment System

I would also single out the recent adoption of the new Rulebook on number portability for services provided on public mobile communication networks. This new rulebook represents a significant advancement of regulations governing this area, and its application will provide for the further development of the market and the effective implementation of the process of transferring numbers between the networks of operators. This is particularly welcomed by A1 Srbija, as the network that the largest number of people are switching to.

To what extent have digitalisation and the growth of the ICT sector contributed to changing the profile of foreign investors in Serbia and how are these changes reflected at the FIC?

The value of exports of the ICT sector and the creation of a surplus in exchanging ICT services has a significant impact on Serbian GDP and employment.

Alongside that, digitalisation has also expanded to encompass the operations of other companies, which has caused the launch of numerous initiatives and the engaging of the Foreign Investors Council.

Digitalisation has a significant role to play in improving the business climate and the transparency of operations of all companies in Serbia and represents an unavoidable topic for all FIC committees. A few years back, it was in this precise area that the greatest progress was achieved. We are witnessing a sharp increase in electronic transactions and the broader application of contactless payments using digital “wallets”. Significant progress has been achieved in the part of the legislative framework that enables the further digitalisation of financial services. Significant developments that will have a lasting impact on the competitiveness of the Serbian economy include the qualified electronic certificate and signature in the cloud, eFiscalization, and payments made via the national Instant Payment System (IPS) using a QR code. Apart from this, the e-government system has reached a level of development that enables the swift evolution of new services that can be placed in the function of resolving pressing social problems.

How do your members contribute to strengthening the social responsibility of companies and their engagement in the community?

The pandemic and geopolitical events have compelled people to reexamine their choices regarding how they spend their time, energy and social capital. In this context, the foundations for retaining employees are represented by operational stability and a company culture that’s healthy and resilient. It isn’t only the work we do that matters today, but how that work impacts the environment, society and governance. On the trail of that positive impact, a large number of FIC member companies implement environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies as an essential element of their operations.

The telecommunications industry plays a key role in global connectivity and the digital transformation of society, so applying ESG standards has particular importance in this sector. A1 Srbija invests continuously in achieving climate neutrality by increasing the share of solar energy in the supply of its network of base stations, boosting energy efficiency in business operations and respecting circular economy principles. We are the first telecommunications company in Serbia to have started using solar panels in our own operations, while we also contribute to remedying the negative consequences of climate change through the “Niklo kao ja” [Sprouted like me] project, under the scope of which we are planting 10 rain gardens in 10 Serbian cities.

RESPONSIBILITY

A large number of FIC member companies implement environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies as an essential element of their operations and contribution to society

ECOLOGY

We are the first telecommunications company in Serbia to have started using solar panels in our own operations

RISKS

An unstable neighbourhood, issues of energy stability and monetary stabilisation, and consequent changes to GDP growth factors, impacted on reducing FDI levels in Serbia