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An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission, led by James Roaf, visited Belgrade between September 13 and 19, to discuss the country’s progress in the implementation of structural reforms [en] and to open discussions regarding the planned 2018 budget.
While the IMF mission has assessed that Serbia’s economic activity continues to expand, notwithstanding a temporary slowdown, the IMF has now cut Serbia’s economic forecast for 2017 from an initially projected 3% down to 2.3% and is urging the government to make further employment cuts in state-operated companies, in particular the country’s electric utility EPS.
EPS is one of the few stable and profitable large state-owned companies, employing some 30,000 people in several sectors and already let go of some 2,000 employees in the previous year. The overall goal, in agreement with the IMF, is to cut jobs in the company by a total of 5,000 by 2020.
Last year’s layoffs were mostly coordinated through a series of voluntary downsizing plans, with many employees leaving willingly. According to some local media, there won’t be time or funds available for that sort of solution this time around and some 700 employees are expected to be axed by the end of the year, mostly in management and administrative positions.
In an end-of-mission press release, the IMF’s James Roaf added that “Economic policy in Serbia should focus on reforms aimed at fostering private sector activity.”
Feature image source credit: Angel Xavier Viera-Vargas [CC BY-ND 2.0]