BELGRADE – Serbia is on a good path in reform implementation and has laid good foundations for long-term development, experts of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) – which predicts a minimal 0.5 percent economic growth for Serbia in 2015 – said on Wednesday.

We are impressed by the extent of the reforms implemented, EBRD country director for Serbia Matteo Patrone said at the presentation of Transition Report 2014 at the National Bank of Serbia.

The agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is one of the crucial steps in overcoming this difficult period, and the EBRD is ready to back the continuation of those reforms, he stressed.

Since 2001, the EBRD has invested around EUR 3.8 billion in Serbia, backing 24 projects with around EUR 450 million in 2014 alone, Patrone said.

The EBRD is also cooperating with many companies and the banking sector in Serbia, and a EUR 200 million loan was approved last year to restructure the Serbian electric power company EPS, while the second stage of digitization in Serbia is one of the most significant projects, Patrone said.

The EBRD also supports the agricultural industry sector, cooperating with many Serbian companies such as the Victoria Group, as well as in the telecommunications sector as a shareholder in the company SBB, Patrone said.

Patrone also said that the EBRD is also cooperating with Serbian official institutions in projects such as the privatization of Telekom Srbija and the Dunav osiguranje insurance company.

EBRD chief economist Peter Sanfey said that 2014 was a year of recession and floods for Serbia, as well as for other countries in the region, and that the EBRD has provided ample assistance to recovery efforts.

Serbia is on a good path in reform implementation and it has laid good foundations for long-term growth, Sanfey said, noting that the EBRD predicts a 0.5 percent economic growth for Serbia in 2015.

Serbia needs to turn to introducing innovation in the economy as a way to boost economic productivity and growth, he said.

A good business environment is one of the key determinants for implementing innovations, Sanfey said, adding that corruption and the grey economy are a common problem in the region.

Responding to questions, he said that the problem of non-performing loans is common to the entire region and that banks should not sweep it under the carpet, but deal with it.

Source: Tanjug