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SERBIA & MONTENEGRO: Serbia's New Employment Policy Aimed to Reduce Unemployment

Serbian Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Policy Slobodan Lalovic stated that if the current pace of foreign direct investment into Serbia continues, it is likely that there will be a reduction in the country's unemployment rate.

During a conference on Serbia's employment policy, Lalovic said that the reduction of the unemployment rate means that by the end of its mandate, the government should try to create an environment favourable for investment in the domestic economy which will help reduce the unemployment rate.

Lalovic said he expects the restructuring and privatisation processes to be concluded next year, adding that the labour ministry already has a list of around 90 smaller socially-owned companies which are getting ready for privatisation.

He recalled that surplus workers in companies are not a consequence of the privatisation process, which was accelerated after democratic changes in the country, but a long-standing problem in Serbia.

According to Lalovic, in the previous period the government enabled social programmes for 120,000 citizens who were declared surplus workers and received payment from transition funds.

He pointed out that it is necessary that unions, company managements and resource ministries cooperate to solve the problem of surplus workers through a quality dialogue.

This is the only way to create a healthy society and healthy economy in Serbia, he added. At the conference, Serbian Minister of Economy Predrag Bubalo pointed out that the reason why there has not been any serious investment in modern technologies in Serbia is the lack of a greater volume of production, because without it there can be no new jobs in the country.

Bubalo said that the Strategy of Employment before 2010 was adopted last year and the action plan for its implementation is underway. He recalled that the Strategy envisages a reduction of the unemployment rate from the current 18%-19% to 10% by 2010.

He also announced that the Ministry of Economy will work on solving the problem of structural unemployment as well as on reducing the high unemployment rate among people below 30 years old.

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