The Buzz in Serbia: Interview with Dragoljub Cibulic of BDK Advokati

The Buzz in Serbia: Interview with Dragoljub Cibulic of BDK Advokati

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“The main thing, politically, is the upcoming Parliamentary elections set for this April,“ says Dragoljub Cibulic, Partner at BDK Advokati in Belgrade. “We’re entering a period of increased political instability, especially given the announced boycott of the elections by the major opposition block. The boycott is rooted in the imbalance on the Serbian political scene, which is heavily dominated by the ruling party. Opposition parties are cut-off from the mainstream media, the ruling party wields tremendous financial power from close ties with the privileged local business caste, and state institutions crucial for a functioning democracy have been hijacked and submitted to the interests of the ruling party.“

This fallout from the situation is likely to come down the road, Cibulic thinks. “Short-term, the boycott is not likely to have a serious effect, but in the long run it carries a lot of weight because it signals that the opposition will no longer take part in a game which is, pretty much, rigged."

Speaking about recent legislation, Cibulic reports that a new law regarding infrastructural projects of significant strategic importance has already been passed this year. “The idea behind it is the need for more efficient realization of important strategic infrastructural projects. The new law has its good sides -- but is not free of downsides. On the plus side, expropriation and construction-permitting processes are simplified. But on the minus side, the public procurement rules for the development of infrastructural projects have been heavily modified, with a possibility of their full exclusion if the Government opts to develop the project under a still hazy strategic partnership model.“

Otherwise, he says, potentially important legislation is “on hold, pending the end of the elections. The first thing the Government is likely to focus on is public sector reform, which is sorely needed.“

Finally, Cibulic reports that the biggest growth drivers of Serbia's economy are likely to be infrastructural projects and FDI, as well as the “recent increase of pensions and wages in the public sector.“ He states that the winter and the end of the construction season have not slowed down projects in Serbia, and that the sector is booming.