Director of the Serbian Government’s Office for the Diaspora, Slavka Drašković, said today to FoNet that Serbia is facing serious and comprehensive reforms, and that the diaspora needs to be involved both in terms of staff and capital. She said that Serbia now needs to make use of all of its potential where people and money are concerned.
“Over one-third of our people live outside Serbia in the diaspora, and they represent exceptional potential, which can’t be compared to any other resource we have when it comes to number, knowledge, relationships or capital” said Ms Drašković. She said that the diaspora has the capacity to invest 5.5 billion dollars in Serbia annually, but according to some World Bank estimates, figures attest to less than ten per cent of that amount.
The diaspora, she said, does invest in the homeland, but it targets ‘home’ directly, thus involvement is mainly oriented towards localities. According to her, the second characteristic of diaspora investment is that it tends to favour small and medium-sized enterprises. “It is actually these two characteristics, the local orientation and a focus on small and medium enterprises, that underpin the potential development of any economy and any industry, which is of course no less true in Serbia,” Ms Drašković said.
In this sense, and as she highlighted, the announcement that the country will provide incentives whereby employers will be exempt from paying taxes related to seven out of ten new jobs, has had a profound effect on the diaspora as well as on other investors. She pointed out that the diaspora expects other incentives to follow, especially at the local level.
“In addition to being able to contribute by means of investment and involvement, through the connections and relationships forged by members in the countries where they now reside, the diaspora is perhaps our greatest pool of human resources at present, a fact that Serbia needs to grasp and put to good use by implementing the reforms that have been announced, and in the way we prescribe”, said Slavka Drašković.