PM: Government resolved to privatize Telekom

LONDON -- Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić said that the Serbian government is resolved to privatize the public telecommunications company Telekom Serbia.

Vučić with Chakrabarti (Tanjug)
Vučić with Chakrabarti (Tanjug)

As for the public company Electric Power Industry of Serbia (EPS), the government is "ready to sell a minority package of shares."

“We are currently looking for an investment partner for Telekom, and are then going to announce a public and transparent tender, and resolve the issue of Telekom,” Vučić told the blog of the London School of Economics.

The prime minister said that he does not think that the EPS must be sold, and that it is quite certain that the state will not sell out the majority package of shares, but is looking for an investor interested in the minority package, as a strategic partner.

Asked whether it will be possible for off-shore companies, registered in places where its owners are not easy to check, to take part in the bidding procedure, Vučić said that this depends on the conditions of the tender, but that he thinks that the privatization council, together with the Telekom Srbija management, will set up the most suitable conditions.

“This tender will be transparent and open for anyone who will be able to offer the best deal,” Vučić said, underlining that he guarantees for transparency of privatization tenders.

Vučić said that economic measures are the single most important condition for Serbia's EU entry, and that as a country and people “we are not asking for mercy, but want to contribute to the European economy in the most serious way.”

"Better business climate"

The Serbian government and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) are launching a joint initiative aimed at improving the investment climate, encouraging the development of the private sector and promoting good governance in Serbia, it was released in statements by the Serbian government and the EBRD on Wednesday.

With a letter of intent signed by Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić and EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti, the two parties have confirmed their intention to coordinate their efforts on measures to facilitate the resumption of credit growth, improve corporate governance in private and public companies, support privatization and encourage infrastructure investments.

In all of these areas, the EBRD and the government of Serbia will maintain an active dialogue with the business community, other international financial institutions and donors.

In addition to the EBRD's investments in the country, the Bank and Serbia have a strong business relationship which includes policy dialogue and technical assistance in the areas such as public procurement, judicial capacity-building and the reorganization of the Serbian Deposit Insurance Agency.

This is a landmark moment in our cooperation with the EBRD. Creating the right business environment is critical and we are confident that we will make further progress with the EBRD's support, the prime minister said at the signing ceremony.

We support the reform path taken by the authorities and encourage further implementation of the new laws aimed at improving conditions for businesses in the country. We are convinced that strengthening the investment climate and enhancing governance will increase Serbia's attractiveness among investors. The EBRD stands ready to assist the authorities in this process, Chakrabarti said.

Since the start of its operations in Serbia, the EBRD has invested more than EUR 3.8 billion in over 181 projects. The Bank has invested in the financial sector, industry, commerce, energy and infrastructure.