Friday, July 28, 2006

Further details on the national strategy and what will go into the tourism sector.

The Minister of Tourism Vlajko Senic (SPO) announced today that the government will allocate 50 million EUR in tourism - 19 million this year and 31 million next.

The Serbian tourism industry generated a surplus of $14 million in the first half of the year.

Money will go towards promoting tourism abroad as well as to more specific projects such as securing new cableways at Mt Kopaonik and at other ski resorts. Further details on Belgrade specific projects will appear on the Belgrade Blog.

Incidentally I believe that Minister Senic has a very bright future in politics.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Well until this blog moves into gear we're going to maintain the emphasis on economic issues.

In the next few days another odd economic indicator - negative monthly inflation for the period of July. Can Serbia manage single digit inflation this year?
Also the CEFTA agreement is worth a look. Economic union for the Balkans?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

An interesting and novel phenomenon in recent days has people scratching their heads.
Nobody can remember when the value of the dinar went up or at least maintained its value for a period perhaps Ante Markovic's government managed this feat.

All kinds of speculation going on, some are saying that the strength of the dinar has less to do with domestic factors and more to do with the weakness of the Euro. That casual observation is likely wide of the mark since the dinar is holding its own against the pound and the dollar too.
Others cynically maintain that the central bank of Serbia has been intervening to keep the value of the dinar high. Also unlikely since if the central bank was able to do this successfully it would have done it months or years ago.

Then you have some voices in business who have sounded the alarm that this is bad for the balance of payments situation - making imports cheaper and exports more expensive. Serbia is already in the red as far the export-import ratio is concerned they caution. This is a valid point although only if the value of the dinar is overpriced for lengthy period of time.

My take on the dinar situation differs from the cynics. It seems to me a positive development - for the first time in recent memory confidence has returned to the dinar and people are getting used to the idea of it appreciating and depreciating in value as normal currencies on world exchanges do. Many people in Serbia after receiving their wages in dinars immediately visit the exchange office thus further influencing the downward trend in value of the dinar but now they are thinking twice.

Monday, July 24, 2006

So during this quiet period a post about the Serbian economy taken from an announcement made by the Serbian government recently.

The national investment strategy which so far has targeted the science sector has now been extended to the agriculture and energy sector. Other sectors such as education, health, judiciary and the environment (some money to tackle pollution) will also be included in the plan but details have yet to be put before parliament.
In total 17 sectors shall be included.

The value of the investment is expected to total just over a billion Euros. At least some of that money is expected to come from receipts of privatisation of state companies such as Vojvodjanska Banka and from the telephone company '063mobi' formerly owned by on the run tycoon Bogoljub Karic. The government is expected to net about 1.3 billion Euros from the sale of state companies this year.

All the details haven't been hammered out but 200 million EUR will be spent on improving the state of the roads and 150 million on building properties. The Tourism sector is expected to receive a 50 million boost - some of this money will go towards improving the investment potential of the Danube.

This is all very welcome - its commonly known that Serbia's infrastructure is poor owing to years of underinvestment. Its no surprise that even the monetarist inspired hawks at the IMF and other financial institutions aren't complaining about the potential inflationary impact of public spending. Although Serbian bank governor made a comment on a closely related issue in recent days - he says that economic growth or unemployment isn't his concern - inflation is. Professionalism to be applauded or a narrow vision of what economic policy is about?

Friday, July 21, 2006

And so welcome to those who have reached this page - I have a feeling that it will be a tall order to match the popularity of some of the other Balkan Blogs. But the number of political type posts made on the Belgrade Blog in recent months has persuaded me of the need for this Serbia Blog. In fact this blog would have been created even without the continuing demand for Balkan intrigue, disagreement and so on.

A typical post might look like this - a translated (or English language) news report and then my own opinion on the topic.

Topics wont always be controversial cut and thrust though. And the idea at this blog isnt to desperately search for things that divide us. Quite the opposite. My conviction is that it is quite possible to hold diametrically opposing views and to still maintain respect and agreement on certain issues.
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