As “Blic Biznis” learns, it was assessed that Serbia has progressed in financial services, digitization, energy, procedures, and foreign investors have given 397 new recommendations for improving business conditions.
Out of 383 recommendations from last year, progress was achieved in 28 percent of them, and significant progress was achieved in eight percent of recommendations, while 72 percent of recommendations did not achieve any progress.
Among the areas where the greatest progress compared to 2022 is evident are energy, protection of users of financial services, fiscalization, the fight against illegal trade, customs, and the areas of digitization and telecommunications, as well as labor law regulations in the field of employment of foreigners, were positively evaluated.
Foreign investors assess that the adoption and harmonization with EU regulations and the acceptance of more flexible rules on the origin of goods between Serbia, CEFTA countries and PAN-EU members were effectively approached. They positively evaluate the introduction of the System of Electronic Invoices (“SEF”), “Blic” reports.
It was pointed out that significant innovations and improvements include the simplification of the process of obtaining a unified work and residence permit, as well as the adoption of the Law on Occupational Safety and Health.
The implementation of eInvoices in the economy has contributed to a great deal of administrative relief and transparency of transactions, according to the “White Book”, adding that the Government and the Office for IT and Electronic Administration continued to implement the digital agenda, which the Council also positively evaluated.
The digitization of financial services continued, through a series of decisions that the regulator, the National Bank of Serbia, prescribed in the previous period.
The new Law on Amendments to the Law on Planning and Construction is expected to contribute to the further growth of the construction sector. They also welcome the formation of a new meeting of the Coordinating Body for Suppression of the Gray Economy.
Also, when it comes to improvements, great progress has been recorded since the National Bank started publishing answers to the most frequently asked questions about the application of regulations on foreign exchange operations, but also that ALIMS has improved by increasing the number of employees and enabling the submission of requests for medicines by e-mail business and reduced delays.
However, among other things, it is not good that no progress has been recorded in the field of food and agriculture, nor in public procurement or dual education. Foreign investors are satisfied with progress in many areas, but still there is room for further work on improving legislation and other details that are important for their business.
Among the most important recommendations of the Council is the organization of a public debate on the new regulations with a regular dialogue with the business community.
They also state that it is necessary to approach the resolution of tax issues and ongoing problems such as property tax changes, property valuation at fair value for profit tax purposes and the introduction of parafiscals.
The recommendation is to amend the key laws and adopt appropriate by-laws, which regulate labor law.
Changes should include digitization of labor law documents, more flexible working conditions outside the employer’s premises, rationalization of the structure and calculation of wages, more flexible procedures for termination of employment.
The Council believes that in order to increase the efficiency and security of business operations, it is necessary to enable the automated exchange of data between the public and private sectors, i.e. to reduce the costs of electronic archiving of business documents.
According to the opinion of the author of the White Book, it is necessary to amend the Law on Mortgage and the Law on Financial Leasing, but also to introduce the specialization of judges for misdemeanors in the economy.
Serbia should also harmonize the Law on Food Safety and all accompanying by-laws with EU regulations.
According to the Council’s assessment, proactive improvement of the legislative framework concerning environmental protection is also necessary, that is, the missing strategic documents should be adopted and an economic model should be created that will motivate local governments to dispose of waste at sanitary landfills.
In the context of current processes of regional integration, the regime for countries in the Open Balkans region should be gradually liberalized, according to foreign investors.
When it comes to the field of health, they advise that it is necessary to ensure stable financing of innovative drugs as well as generic drugs with the expansion of indications by a dedicated transfer of budget funds to the RFZO.
They believe that the RFZO should ensure that the necessary funds are obtained from the central budget for the introduction of new drugs on the list of drugs. The Ministry of Health, together with the Ministry of Finance and the RFZO, should continuously work on securing additional financial resources from the Serbian budget, with the aim of adding new therapies to the RFZO Drug List.
According to the Council’s opinion, it is necessary to introduce a new methodology for assessing the foreign exchange inflow of the tourism sector, as well as to amend the Act on Simplified Work in Seasonal Businesses.
It is also recommended to combat the high rate of the gray economy in tourism and catering with an emphasis on the segment of physical persons providing accommodation services.
It was announced that the presentation of the “White Book” will be attended by Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Emanuele Žiofre, as well as members of the Council of Foreign Investors led by the President of the Board of Directors Majko Michel.
Members of the Council of Foreign Investors employ 115,000 workers in Serbia and have invested 44 billion euros.