Serbian economy prisoner of politics, central banker says

(dpa) - Serbia's Central Bank governor Radovan Jelasic is one of the country's top policymakers, but his powers were limited, he noted.
Politicians hold the key to Serbia's economic progress and Jelasic, a reformist Western-educated banker, warned fellow Serbs to keep that in mind when they make their choices in early parliamentary elections on May 11.
The vote, pitting pro-Europeans against ultra-nationalists, will be a referendum on Serbia's direction, influencing foreign investment and loans critical to economic growth. Polls suggest ultra- nationalists hostile to the West could win enough votes to form the next government.
In a recent interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa at his Belgrade office, Jelasic stopped short of taking sides. But he said Serbs can't expect to vote "for a troubled policy, then ask the world to foot your bills and prop up your growth and exchange rate."
He expressed frustration at the slow pace of market reforms and the time lost to frequent elections since strongman Slobodan Milosevic fell in October 2000.
Jelasic, 40, has often complained that populist Serbian politicians undermine monetary stability by failing to reform and spending too much, in contrast to the central bank's harshly restrictive policies.
"Our economic development has always been prisoner of some political issue. Until that changes, it will continue to hinge on politics," he told dpa.
Instead of pushing the transition at the fastest possible pace once Milosevic was toppled, politicians in power flirted with the electorate - which in turn became increasingly frustrated over failed promises and unfulfilled expectations.
As a result, large state-owned firms remain untouched by privatization and restructuring, and government spending has ballooned to the outer limits of the country's tolerance.
"Everybody in politics and institutions knows what must be done, so we must ask why isn't it done. Then we come to it - not now, we have these elections, wait now, this will happen in Montenegro and that in Kosovo," said Jelasic, a member of the reformist G17 party who has headed the Serbian National Bank since 2004.
In a country as volatile as Serbia, elections worry foreign investors and lenders - last year, the country drew 2.2 billion dollars in foreign investment and borrowed 4.9 billion dollars.
The 7 billion dollars covered Serbia's gaping current account deficit, running at some 17 per cent of gross domestic product.
But if foreign investors and banks decide Serbia is becoming too risky, the country's economic stability would come under more pressure.
Some deals have already fallen through in the shadow of another tense election, such as the sale of state-run copper smelter in Bor and the construction of the Horgos-Pozega highway, both worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
With foreign businesses investing in Serbia to the tune of billions of dollars, a return to Serbia's Milosevic-era isolation of the 1990s is out of the question, Jelasic said.
Yet the recovery is fragile. He points to Serbia's stock market indices, sent into free-fall by the country's political uncertainty and pressure on the dinar currency - until now a stability pillar.
Serb voters must understand that connection, said Jelasic, jabbing Serbia's political elite with a sarcastic reference to Belgrade's main river.
"A politician has the right to argue that indices depend on air temperature or the level of the Danube, but in reality, the bourse and the currency have their preferred partners," he said. "If the preferred partners win, the indices are good."
Meanwhile, Serbia has lost "half of the time" since 2000 to election campaigning, he said.
Since Milosevic's fall, there have been nearly two dozen elections - for parliament, president, local authorities and the now defunct union with Montenegro, as well as a major referendum.
"The election cycle here is much too short," Jelasic said. "We should have reformed much more aggressively all that time."

ExxonMobil to cut 7% of its workforce in Singapore
ExxonMobil to cut 7% of its workforce in Singapore
Chinese embassy opposes Indian media's allegation on cyberattacks
Chinese embassy opposes Indian media's allegation on cyberattacks
Singapore's manufacturing PMI falls to 50.5 in February
Singapore's manufacturing PMI falls to 50.5 in February
Loading Bars
Latest
Kyrgyzstan introduces temporary ban on export of oil products
EIB, European Council presidents open new EU premises in Georgia
Iran ready to export medical technologies to Syria
Hungary interested in including Azerbaijani gas in country's future energy mix - ambassador (INTERVIEW)
ExxonMobil to cut 7% of its workforce in Singapore
2021 Emmy Awards to be held in September
Ireland to re-establish diplomatic presence in Iran
Azerbaijan to contribute to development of CE work on organizing AI security
Biden takes steps to help Merck boost Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine supply
US Department of Commerce blacklists 14 entities in Russia, Germany, Switzerland
Chinese embassy opposes Indian media's allegation on cyberattacks
OPEC sees positive oil market outlook, continued downside risks
Iran's CBI discloses number and value of exchanged checks
Italian Parliament demands provision of maps of mined areas of Azerbaijan (PHOTO)
AZAL Announces Conditions for Rebooking Tickets for Flights Canceled due to COVID-19 Pandemic
Singapore's manufacturing PMI falls to 50.5 in February
Promise to provide countries with necessary vaccines within COVAX initiative is not fulfilled - State Agency of Medical Insurance
Parliament head to support all joint efforts for new constitution
Georgian President appreciates EU support
Macron to hold phone talk with Iranian counterpart over JCPOA
OECD recommends Georgia to support land registration reform for increasing FDI-SME linkages
Turkmenistan reveals schedule of intercity buses
Azerbaijan's State Tax Service registers Fuzuli Airport LLC
Azerbaijan felt Turkey's support not only during Karabakh war but throughout history - Minister
Int’l Model Non-Aligned Movement Simulation Exercise underway - Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry
Azerbaijan, Germany interested in increasing mutual trade turnover - Deputy minister
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on March 3
Azerbaijani State Agency of Automobile Roads talks about repair and construction on roads
Azerbaijani Finance Ministry places medium-term bonds at auction
Azerbaijan shows footage from Ucbulag village of Fuzuli district (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Georgia to receive first doses of COVID-19 vaccine via Covax platform in February
Irrigation systems to be put into operation in Iran’s agricultural sector
Azerbaijani Defense Ministry shares updated list of martyred servicemen in Second Karabakh War
Larization of loans increase in Georgia
Georgian AgroZone products to be exported abroad from Kutaisi Airport
Turkish specialists together with Azerbaijan’s AzTV to shoot film in Nagorno-Karabakh region
Ro-Pax ferry vessel commissioned by Azerbaijan's president - video report
Azerbaijani winemakers’ production down in 2020
Azerbaijan, Tajikistan discuss development of tourism co-op
Georgia’s banking sector begins year with profit
France uses only quarter of Astrazeneca vaccine doses
Uzbek-Korean JV to buy spare parts for electric actuator via tender
Kazakhstan identifies priority tasks to develop agriculture by 2025
Georgian Ministry of Finance sees decrease in mobilized income tax
Likelihood of interest rate decrease in Azerbaijan for 2021 seems minimal - Unicapital
Azerbaijan's AzNET segment neutralizes more phishing attacks in Jan.2021
Azerbaijan's new borrowings not to raise debt burden - Gazprombank
Azerbaijan studying Turkey's experience to strengthen institution of primary health care (PHOTO)
Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan talk big potential for co-op in agriculture
Hertz set to ride out of bankruptcy with $4.2 billion from investment firms
Money transfers via int'l payment systems down in Kazakhstan
Azercell obtains yet another award on customer experience management
German companies may take part in restoring Azerbaijan's liberated lands - ambassador
Excavation of well in Iran's Ahvaz oil field launched
Uzbekistan considers resuming air communication with Russia
Bahar Azadi gold coin price again falling in Iran
Kazakhstan, Georgia resume mutual flights as COVID-19 restrictions lifted
Uzbekistan eyes expanding mutually beneficial relations with foreign partners
Azerbaijan and Germany to continue co-op on improving qualifications of managers
Generation data of Iran's Shahid Rajaee TPP announced
Lithuania supports subsidizing renewable energy projects in Georgia
Demand for pick-up trucks in Azerbaijan may increase - expert
Kazakhstan boosts agriculture output, sets up tasks for sector's dev't
Turkey issues Jan. 2021 data on passenger traffic at Istanbul Airport
Azerbaijani company discloses output of primary aluminum
Spain's jobless hit four million for first time in five years as pandemic curbs bite
Volume of exports from Iran's Qom Province increases
S.Korean oil company holding exploration on land plots in Uzbekistan
EU executive says joint vaccine strategy not unravelling
Azerbaijan, Germany discuss expanding cooperation in oil & gas sector
Azerbaijani business environment entering recovery period - Minister of Economy
Iran's awaits action from US over JCPOA
Indonesia says identifies two cases of British COVID-19 variant
Europe – Iran held business forum to expand trade
Uzbek-Russian JV completes geological exploration at Akchalak investment block
Azerbaijani electricity supplier first to use special-purpose UAVs
Iran reaches gas export growth
Turkish president instructs to shoot TV series about Karabakh war victory
Cargo, passenger traffic via Turkish Sabiha Gokcen Airport down from early 2021
Germany to extend coronavirus lockdown until March 28
Iran unveils data of imports, exports through Anzali port
Azerbaijan records notable growth in population's US dollar demand
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for March 2
Azerbaijani Association of Travel Agencies and Association of Travel Bloggers sign agreement of understanding (PHOTO)
Union ministers Amit Shah, S Jaishankar get Covid-19 vaccine after PM Modi
Azerbaijan to hold new auction for public property facilities
Azerbaijan in cooperation with Turkey to make movie about Karabakh War
TV, radio channels to be non-accredited for 2021 Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Iran's Changuleh - 'a very complex oil field', says official
Proven gas reserves not adequate to furnish rising demand
BHOS launches next ‘Business Education for Engineers’ course
Iran to build combined cycle power plan in Mazandaran Province
Azerbaijan confirms 143 more COVID-19 recoveries
Gold, silver prices down in Azerbaijan
Nitin Gadkari: Despite Covid, highway construction at a record of over 32 km a day
IAF To Take Part In Multinational Exercise "Desert Flag" With France, US In UAE
Uzbekistan reports increases in gasoline price
Uzbek ministry to purchase computer equipment via tender
Uzbek commodity exchange reports volume of RON-80 gasoline sold
Russia's Novak preparing for OPEC+ meeting on March 4
All news