Interview of the Director of the Serbian Central Bank -Radovan Jelasic-

The head of the Central Bank in Serbia, Mr. Jelasic, recently gave an interview for the Greek media during a visit in Athens last month. The most interesting parts from his statements are going to be represented below.
Mr. Jelasic pointed out firstly the dynamics of the contemporary Serbian market especially for those interested in the finance and banking sector.The inflation rate in the country has been stabilised in around 8.5% and GDP is increasing with the rapid pace of 6.5% for 2006, whilst the predictions are for at least the same increase the year ahead.
Moreover the Serbian banks managed to increase their assets by 32% last year the largest increase in the Balkan market. The director of the Central Bank mentioned that the Greek presence in the domestic market is around 25% of the total Serbian banking system with very good prospects of further investments the next few years. The aim of the Serbian goverment is to assist towards the liberazation of the finance system , thus the privatization of 7 banks during the past 12 months. In total the Serbian state holds shares in just 2 of the 38 operating banks in the country.

The country is experiencing lately a surge of income from abroad -Numbering some 5 billion Euros- from capital held by Serbian citizens that was exported during the turbulent 90’s to offshore banks. Moreover, even though the average monthly salary is just 300 Euros, one has to take into account the large percentage of the parallel economy  that most probably exceeds 40%. The previous element shows the potential for the Serbian finance system to grow considerably the next decade, once this undeclared capital find their way into the “real economy” and into the banking system itself.
Mr Jelasic pointed out to the cordial relations between Greece and Serbia and mentioned that himself has a Greek connection from the family of his wife. He also added that the geo-economic position of the country in the centre of the Balkans and close to the central Europe; is becoming a magnet for entrepreneurs and large investors as well that set peripheral bases in Belgrade and Nis mostly. More specifically he called more Greek businesses to assess the opportunities involved in tourism, finance and the agricultural sectors.
On overall, according to the comments being made by Greek bussinespersons, managers and journalists, Serbia has moved progressively over the past few years and its economy is set to become one of the most dynamic in South Eastern Europe in the coming years. Already large Greek enterprises such as VIVARTIA, 3E, Viohalko, are thinking of enlarging further their productive facilities in the country and there is also strong demand in the real estate sector in issues ranging from the creation of shopping malls, office buildings and investments in hotels.

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