Serbia to get new government within ten days – PM designate

The parliament session at which the new government should be elected will be held by Aug 11, PM designate Aleksandar Vucic said at a press conference yesterday. Vucic said that the presidency of his Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) authorised him to start talks with the list led by the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) about the composition of the new cabinet today. He added that the talks should be completed by Aug 5, while the SNS presidency will meet again during the weekend to define personal solutions for the cabinet. Vucic did not provide details about the line-up. According to media reports, the SPS will have less ministers that in the outgoing government with only its leader Ivica Dacic expected to keep the post of foreign minister.

Vucic said that the central government budget posted a surplus of RSD 22bn in Jan-Jul, below the planned gap of RSD 73bn in agreement with the IMF. He noted that revenues were up by RSD 22.8bn, while expenditures were 3.8% less than planned. Non-tax revenues should be boosted in August with expected dividend payments from companies such as Telekom Srbija, power utility EPS and state power grid operator EMS, which will help increase the budget surplus to at least RSD 25bn for Jan-Aug, Vucic added. The central government budget gap came in at RSD 3.9bn in H1, accounting for only 3.2% of the full-year target.

Vucic said that GDP rose by 2.7% in H1 and added that economic growth in 2016will likely be higher than the government 2.5% forecast. He estimated that the economy could expand by more than 3.0% this year. The PM designate expected significant increase in electricity generation in the last quarter of the year when overhauls in the largest power generation complex Nikola Tesla (TENT) should be completed. He said that public debt amounted to EUR 24.36bn at the end of July and accounted for 72.4% of GDP. He added that debt was slightly higher because of larger number of project loans for road infrastructure.

The PM designate also said that he has sent a letter to top EU officials to complain about the worsening situation in the region and the anti-Serbian policy led by Croatia. Vucic pointed that Croatia raised monuments to terrorists validly convicted in the EU, rehabilitated war criminals and abolished verdicts for crimes committed during the Second World War and in the recent wars. He asked the EU officials to say whether Serbia did something wrong to provoke such a behavior and voiced confidence that the country will manage to peacefully solve problems that it was facing in the region.

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