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EBRD to Commit $1 Billion to Spur Serb Economy, President Says

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will commit 800 million euros ($1 billion) to Serbia over the next two years to aid its economic recovery and help reduce unemployment.

The Balkan nation must also “tackle its fiscal deficit,” which is expected to exceed the 4.25 percent of economic output target this year as set out in its bailout loan program, EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti told reporters in Belgrade today.

“The key thing for Serbia is to get growth in the economy and to reduce unemployment which is far too high,” Chakrabarti said after meeting with Serbian government officials. We’ll be here helping in the years ahead.’’

Serbia’s economy is in the midst of its second recession in three years and unemployment rose to 25.5 percent in the first six months, compared with 23 percent in 2011. The budget deficit reached 7.2 percent of gross domestic product in the first six months of 2012.

The government also wants the EBRD to invest in local banks, in addition to its current stakes in Cacanska Banka AD and Komercijalna Banka AD, Finance Minister Mladjan Dinkic said.

Most of the funding will be used for infrastructure and energy projects, Dinkic said. Serbia may offer the EBRD a minority ownership in state-controlled companies, he said.

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