Serbian Govt Falls Short on Reform Pledges

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In its first 100 days, the Serbian government has only fulfilled a handful of the tasks it set itself when taking office, a new report by BIRN shows.

Research conducted by BIRN Serbia shows that out of 29 promises that Serbian government pledged to meet while taking office, only two have been completely fulfilled.

The government adopted a new Labour Law in July and has introduced stricter control over public procurements.

The research monitored the government’s action on the promises made in five areas that citizens perceived as crucial – public finance, the economy, corruption, education and health.

While some progress has been made in fulfilling about half of the promises, in the fields of education and health, nothing has been done, or started, the research says.

“Although there were some reform efforts, mainly regarding legislative changes, matters are far from ideal,” BIRN Serbia report states.

Jelena Bojovic, from the National Alliancefor Local Economic Development, NALED, said the first 100 days of the government had been marked with “great instability”.

“The period was marked by constant changes in regulations, new drafts and new proposals of the laws, new people at the forefront of the ministries. Great instability is a problem for the economy,” Bojovic said on August 5 at a conference organised by BIRN Serbia.

Nemanja Nenadic, programme director at Transparency Serbia, the local branch of international watchdog organisation, said the fight against corruption had not been kept in due focus.

“When it comes to fight against corruption, the period has been marked by lack of transparency regarding government’s deals with investors. This refers not only to deals made by this government, but also to deals made before 2012,” Nenadic said.

He added that a lack of transparency concerning the government’s business operations with foreign partners was worrying as the constitution grants inter-governmental agreements high legal status than local laws.

“The issue is that the constitution does not set boundaries on what can be determined in inter-governmental agreements,” he said.

Nenadic said the government had been using inter-governmental agreements to make deals between Serbian national carrier Jat Airways and Etihad of the United Arab Emirates, for example, as well as for the deal for real estate in the Belgrade Waterfront project.

In this way, the government bypassed Serbian law on Public-Private Partnerships, as well as Privatisation Law and Law on Public Companies.

The full report is available on this link, while follow-ups on the government’s measures are available on the website