Positive Trends in Serbia’s Competiveness and Economic Growth

Positive Trends in Serbia’s Competiveness and Economic Growth
Ambassador Scott and Serbian Government officials at the unveiling of results of the Annual Business survey
USAID Serbia

For Immediate Release

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Belgrade November 17, 2016 – USAID’s Business Enabling Project today released the findings of its sixth annual Serbian Business Survey.  The survey, which reflects 1,000 Serbian businesses’ opinions on the state of Serbia’s business environment, showed recent reforms are making it easier for them to operate.

“One of the greatest improvements shown by this year’s survey results is the positive change in the private sector’s perceptions of the Serbian government’s inspection system and its inspectorates. This year, we also saw the impact of the Government’s efforts to reform Serbia’s construction permitting system. This reform was recognized as one of the most important business reforms implemented in Serbia in the last several years,” said U.S. Ambassador Kyle Scott.

In 2016, 82 percent of businesses surveyed believe that inspectors are well trained and 78 percent believe they act upon clear and understandable legislation; these figures are up from 37 percent and 28 percent respectively, since 2011. Findings from this year’s Business Survey showed that 40 percent of businesses believe that the administrative costs of construction are now reasonable, compared to 16 percent in 2013. Serbia moved from 139th to 36th place in the World Bank’s Doing Business rankings for dealing with Construction Permits.

Businesses still see plenty of room for improvement. A majority of businesses said they continued to face challenges with issues such as para-fiscal charges, administrative procedures, and access to finance.

“As we look at this year’s survey, access to finance remains an issue of particular concern. The findings show a staggering 68 percent of businesses surveyed do not use any form of external finance. This is a major barrier to Serbia’s economic growth since micro, small and medium-sized businesses make up close to 99 percent of Serbian companies and account for 70 percent of employment,” concluded Ambassador Scott.