At Libek’s media conference (with support from Friedrich Naumann Stiftung) held at Media Center, representatives of Libek, LDP (Liberal Democratic Party), Nova Party and „Dosta je bilo“ movement expressed their views on the European Commission Report on Serbia’s progress. Libek’s conference „Freedom and Reforms“ was announced for Wednesday, October 22nd at 10am. Conference will be constituted of ten panels on which different topics will be covered, such as economy, politics and media, with a special highlight on three panels:
- „Way Out of Abyss“, which will deal with key economic problems of Serbia
- „Reforms on the Agenda“, in which Čedomir Jovanović, Saša Radulović and Zoran Živković will present economic programs and specific solutions by their parties
- „Slippery Slope of Public Speech“, on which media situation will be discussed
Miloš Nikolić, president of Libek, stated that pressure from EU should serve as a necessary pressure for economic reform. „Report is a blood count, and the count is low. Structural reforms are a necessary condition for recovery, reduction in public spending is not sufficient. Retraction of state from economy is also required – suppression of public sector’s low productivity, privatization of public companies, rationalization of social policies“, stated Nikolić.
Dušan Dinić, regional director of Friedrich Naumann Stiftung, stressed that public discussion concerning the Report is absent from public discourse, and no explanation concerning its content comes from Office for European Integration either. „European integration is slow, expensive and often questioned as it is alienated from citizens“, said Dinić.
Mihailo Gajić from Libek’s Research Department stated that „from 35 chapters of the Acquis, 20 of them are strictly economic, which makes the economic part of the Report exceptionally important“. As most significant problems, Gajić stressed low grades for rule of law, problems with restructuring companies and monopolies of wasting public companies, powerful bureaucracy, as well as fiscal and parafiscal levies. „Still, in all 20 chapters there is a slight progress – Labour Law, privatization, bankruptcy and public procurement, liberalization of electricity market. Major minuses in the Report are questions of competition due to restructuring companies, wider liberalization of markets, monopoly of „Srbijagas“ and South Stream construction, which goes against European laws“, stated Gajić
Aleksandar Stanković from Nova Party said that economic goals laid down by this Government are far from realization: „Sixty percent of employed in public sector in the last two years, were employed outside of procedures. Government has to abolish public company monopolies, significantly reduce competences of the state and public spending, as well as to increase public resources spending efficiency. Voucherization in health and education sector, changes in monetary policy and a currency board – those are responses from Nova Party for problems of public finances“, concluded Stanković.
Jovan Najdenov, spokesman for LDP assessed that Government has not shown to be capable to carry out announced reforms in a single segment of society. „Having in mind the legitimacy of Serbian Progressive Party, results are devastating. We have the highest deficit in Europe, lowest level of direct foreign investments, public debt at 70% of GDP. These are indicators of decay of the system we live in“, said Najdenov and added that economic issues are in direct correlation with political issues, especially concerning foreign policy: „There is no progress in economic integration without harmonization with Common Foreign and Security Policy of EU. Ukraine is one of those questions and Serbia needs to pick a side“.
Nemanja Radojević from „Dosta je bilo“ movement said that at the moment this movements predictions are coming true concerning bad consequences of Governments performance: „Government said that in 2014 we will have a deficit of 600 milion euros. We said then that it will actually be around 2.5 billion euros, and demanded urgent reforms. In the end, it seems that deficit will reach 3 billion euros, and citizens will pay for that through increase in public debt“. He also stressed that for this movement, the Report is a „big nothing“, presented through confusing euphemisms“. Radojević added that movement „Dosta je bilo“ advocates for decrease in levies and abolishment of all subsidies, as well as lay-off for 100.000 party staff from public sector.