The First National Budget Forum

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The first national budget forum organized by BIRN Serbia and its partner organisation Pro Concept was held on Tuesday in presence of more than fifty governmental, NGO, business sector representatives, experts and journalists.

The aim of the forum was to gather stakeholders from the field of public finances in Serbia and to create a platform for wider public debate in the field.

The panelists on the forum included: Serbian Finance Minister Diana Dragutinovic, National Bank of Serbia Vice Governor Branko Hinic and former high official in Serbian government and university professor of public finances Milica Bisic. Moderator of the event was editor in daily Politika Misa Brkic.

Brkic presented results of analysis, which Pro Concept carried out  on possibilities for savings in the ministries of health and education budgets. He also presented Baseline study on current situation in sector of public finances in Serbia.

“It is possible to save five to seven per cent of the overall budget of ministries of health and education with better planning,” Brkic pointed out.

Dragutinovic said several interesting things regarding problems with controlling public finances in Serbia.
“We do not know how we had spent about 130 billion dinars last year because we do not control spending in different agencies and directorates” Dragutinovic said.

She said that the new law on budget system in Serbia is good and will thus bring a greater level of transparency to Serbia’s public finances. The finance minister announced that she will initiate forming of new fiscal body in order to strengthen capacity of institutions for better planning and spending.

Ms Bisic said that budget for 2010 is realistic but that there will be problems in its implementation if the policies of public finances are not improved.

“The foreign investors are not interested in low tax rates as they are interested for stability and assurance of the whole system” she stressed adding that large numbers of exclusions in tax system were huge mistake.

In the afternoon session, the debate was run within The Chatham house rules, while debate’s conclusions and recommendations are to be used for next stages of the project.