South East Europe Countries Need a Platform for Exchanging Most Successful Reforms

South East European countries can offer good system solutions to improve business conditions and need a common platform that will guide the process of transferring successful economic reforms among members. This was concluded at the "Together for a More Competitive Region" meeting organized by NALED, with the support of German Development Cooperation and the European Investment Bank, within the organization’s XII Annual Assembly.

E-construction permits replicated from Macedonia to Serbia and Albania are examples of a successful ‘export’ of good practices, and the same potential is shared by solutions in regulating the status of seasonal workers. The exchange of knowledge was initiated by partner institutions from the region implementing the Business Friendly Certification South East Europe (BFC SEE) in five countries - Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

"We propose an institutionalization of cooperation on harmonizing and improving the business environment, with the support of prime ministers and governments of the countries of the region. We will thus ensure more efficient implementation of reforms and equalization of business and investment conditions. After construction permits, we can transfer good solutions for cadaster and public procurement reforms, countering of shadow economy and encouraging entrepreneurship" - said the President of the Management Board NALED Aleksandar Ružević.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić stressed that she supports the initiative to establish a Regional Platform for Business Friendly Environment (BFC SEE) and urged counterparts from the region as well as international donor organizations to assist in the implementation.

"We want to export knowledge because we all have something good to offer – Macedonia has e-construction permits and e-cadaster, Croatia has the fiscalization system, Serbia offers the certification program for municipalities based on economic level, as well as the programs for countering shadow economy and improving global competitiveness"- said Brnabić.

German Ambassador to Serbia Axel Dittmann stressed that the German Development Cooperation supported the development of the BFC SEE program that has achieved great success and helped nearly 100 local governments from five countries to improve business conditions, contributed towards strengthening regional cooperation and harmonizing the business conditions. This has also been reflected in the continued progress of these countries in the Doing Business list, and Germany supports further development of the program and the proposal for institutionalization.

The BFC SEE program is being implemented since 2012 and has so far included almost 100 cities and municipalities from five countries, 44 of which have fulfilled the conditions for obtaining a certificate, which represents a seal of quality to local businesses and investors, and a proof that they will find a predictable business environment in these areas in accordance with the highest international standards, along with efficient procedures, quality databases and reliable services.

On this occasion, the region’s state ministers presented 17 certificates to local governments that successfully adopted the reforms and guidelines of the certification program in the past year - 11 from Bosnia & Herzegovina, four from Serbia (Novi Sad, Leskovac, Sombor and Ruma) one from Macedonia and one from Croatia.

More than 3 million citizens and 150,000 companies in certified cities and municipalities now use efficient local government services. The conditions for doing business in these areas are better on average by 76%. Also, 40% of certified cities and municipalities in the region have been included in the Financial Times list of best investment destinations in Europe.

Improving the regulatory framework for doing business and strengthening the capacity of public administration was indicated as a key goal of NALED until 2021.

At the 12th Annual Assembly it was evaluated that NALED had a very successful year, reaching the number of 300 members from the ranks of businesses, local governments and civil society organizations.

"We have contributed to Serbia achieving a new progress and the best ranking on the Doing Business List, reaching Top 10 countries in terms of construction permitting. Coordinating the implementation of the National Program, we helped reduce the size of shadow economy from 21.1 to 15.4% of GDP among the registered businesses. We have succeeded in ensuring the introduction of a great incentive to the development of entrepreneurship in the form of tax exemption for new businesses. We took part in setting the foundations for the development of e-government through the establishment of the Office for IT and e-Government and adoption of e-business laws" - said the President of NALED Managing Board Aleksandar Ružević.

NALED has participated in the drafting of more than 20 laws important for businesses and is a member of 15 working and expert groups for improving the position on international competitiveness lists, countering shadow economy, development of e-government, entrepreneurship, construction and other fields.

The Assembly also presented NALED’s Strategic Plan for the period 2018-2021, prepared with the support of the Open Society Foundation. NALED members voted that NALED's two key program goals in the medium term will be to improve the regulatory framework for business and strengthening the capacities and responsibilities of the public administration.

Within the first goal of the key activity will be the work on further reduction of shadow economy, development of e-government and e-business, improvement of cadaster operations, development of the agriculture and health sector, as well as the improvement of international competitiveness and regional cooperation.

The second objective envisages engagement in improving the capacities of state administration and local governments to support businesses, improve the process of adoption and the quality of laws, and engage in the process of EU accession in order to strengthen business competitiveness.

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