AmCham member companies believe economic recovery in 2021 would best be promoted by reforms to strengthen rule of law and judicial efficiency, make changes to legislation more predictable, optimize and digitalize public administration, create synergies between public and private healthcare, tackle the shadow economy, and streamline tax administration
The presentation of the findings of AmCham’s Eighth Lap Time survey was attended by Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić; First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Science, and Technological Development Branko Ružić; Minister of Justice Maja Popović; Minister of Labor, Employment, Veterans’ and Social Issues Darija Kisić-Tepavčević; and Minister of Trade, Tourism, and Telecommunications Tatjana Matić. The Prime Minister and cabinet ministers also took part in the ensuing discussion of the findings.
In 2020, 65 percent of AmCham member companies saw their business contract, with the pandemic having the greatest adverse impact on investment and profits and turnover, while employment largely remained unchanged from last year, according to AmCham’s annual Eighth Lap Time survey of business climate and investor confidence. The poll of its member companies conducted by AmCham annually since 2013 reveals these firms’ perceptions of the Serbian business environment and their performance in the year to date and plans for the upcoming year, as well as recommendations suggesting how the Government of Serbia can improve the business climate and promote economic recovery.
AmCham members recommend pursuing urgent reforms for the duration of the pandemic to allow businesses to communicate with all public authorities online without restriction, accelerate the development of e-government, continue improving capacity of the health service by promoting synergies between the public and private healthcare sectors, and streamlining international payments and collections by relaxing the onerous administrative requirements imposed by the Foreign Exchange Operations Law.
By cross-referencing priority reforms and key challenges faced by businesses, the AmCham survey recognized the following initiatives as crucial for economic progress in 2021:
1. Enhancing the rule of law and efficiency of the judiciary and tackling corruption;
2. Improving transparency of lawmaking (through consultations with businesses), and in particular monitoring the implementation of business laws and measuring their impact;
3. Enhancing public administration by allowing online communication with all public authorities and optimising and digitalizing procedures, in particular in the areas of taxation, customs, and foreign currency operations;
4. Achieving synergy between public and private health sectors to deliver better healthcare to the public;
5. Improving predictability of taxes and parafiscal levies and reforming the Tax Administration; and
6. Continuing efforts to address the shadow economy.
The Eighth Lap Time, AmCham’s business climate and investor confidence survey, examines how AmCham members perceive the business environment in Serbia and their performance in 2020 and plans for the coming year. The research was carried out using a quantitative, anonymous, online questionnaire (the sample numbered 126 member businesses), as well as through more than 20 qualitative face-to-face interviews. The survey has been performed annually since 2013, with a hiatus in 2015; this year’s iteration was the seventh of its kind.