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IMF to Meet Serbian Government Officials Feb. 6, NBS Says

An International Monetary Fund mission to Serbia that is holding talks about the 2012 budget will meet government officials on Feb. 6, the central bank said.

The mission will discuss the “macroeconomic framework for 2012” and the “compliance with performance criteria for December 2011,” the Belgrade-based Narodna Banka Srbije said in an e-mail today.

According to IMF reports, benchmarks for end-December 2011 include a floor on net international reserves of the central bank of 4.5 billion euros ($5.92 billion), a 153-billion-dinar ($1.89 billion) ceiling on consolidated general government overall gap and a 1.95 billion-euro cap on new foreign, non-concessional, direct or sovereign-backed borrowing by the public sector for 2011.

The lender’s mission will especially focus on the “implementation of agreed fiscal policy measures and compliance with set fiscal rules,” the National Bank of Serbia added. Under the rules, Serbia needs to keep its public debt below 45 percent of gross domestic product. The ratio stood at 44.8 percent in November.

The Finance Ministry was due to report December budget figures by mid-January. The January-November budget gap reached 119.97 billion dinars and compared with a 142.7 billion-dinar cap set in a revised 2011 budget. The full-year gap would equal 4.5 percent of Serbia’s gross domestic product.

The IMF postponed the first review of its $1.3 billion precautionary-loan program with Serbia on Jan. 20 because of the budget, which it said “deviates from the program parameters” and especially “issuance of public debt and guarantees.” It estimated the “deviation” at around 1 percent of GDP, or at least 300 million euros.

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