On Thursday, 12 September, NALED's traditional September Gathering has brought together more than 800 members and partners - state and local leaders, businesses, representatives of international community and diplomatic corps - to bid farewell to the summer and mark the beginning of the new season of reforms for improving the business environment in Serbia.
The event was opened by the President of NALED Managing Board Vladimir Novaković, Head of European Investment Bank Regional Representation Dubravka Negre, the Ambassador of the Untied States of America Kyle Scott and the Prime Minister of Serbia Ana Brnabić.
The President of NALED MB stressed that cooperation with the Government of Serbia has brought a series of significant steps forward towards improving the business conditions, and these results are accompanied by numbers - for example, more than 330,000 applications for real estate registration submitted via eCounter, 325,000 issued construction permits, 22,000 registered seasonal workers in agriculture, 56,000 electronic property tax returns, 4,000 fees and taxes paid in cashless form...
- These are all numbers that we helped make happen, and they happened thanks to the fact that we have a steady partner on our side - the Government of Serbia and the person who knows and understands what we need to move forward - our Prime Minister. On the other hand, everything we achieved would not be possible without the support of international community and our key donors - with special thanks going to USAID, encouraging us to go a step ahead of our time, nurture the public private dialogue as the foundation of our house, while incorporating the values of cooperation, understanding, openness.. - said Novaković.
The Prime Minister Ana Brnabić also stressed that the Government and NALED cooperate in a large number of areas, such as the countering of shadow economy, the development of eInspector and e-government, the introduction of cashless payments, reform of lump-sum taxation, adoption of the law on social entrepreneurship etc.
- I would like to thank you as the Prime Minister, but maybe even more, as a citizen of this country, for everything you are doing together, as members from various sectors, with a fantastic Executive Office, for everything you are doing for this country - as you are not making the efforts for me as Ana Brnabić, as the Prime Minister, nor for this Government of Sebia. Everything you are doing - you are doing for this country. And if it weren't for you - the reforms would certainly not be as extensive and efficient, and I thank you for all of this – said Brnabić.
The Head of European Investment Bank Regional Representation Dubravka Negre stressed that this institution acts as an important link between the local governments in Serbia while supporting and funding infrastructure projects - currently there are 300 projects being implemented. Our support also focuses on the sector of small and medium enterprises, and over the past 10 years, EIB has invested more than 1.6 billion euros, thus helping sustain more than 300,000 jobs, of which many being on the local level. Since the care for local development serves as EIB's main focus - so does the cooperation with NALED.
- It is a pleasure to be a part of small, but big initiatives, such as NALED - the initiative that brings together the public and private sectors, for the benefit of reforms and progress that should be felt by all citizens of Serbia - added Negre.
Ambassador Scott thanked NALED for the opportunity to once again address NALED members and partners, for the last time before leaving Serbia.
- I am very fond of NALED, as it serves as an excellent example of results brought by the USA-Serbia partnership. A many of you know, NALED was established with the support of USAID. Among various organizations making the efforts to improve the business environment in Serbia, NALED is quite unique. It is unique by its three-sector membership, involving the business community, local authorities and civil society organizations. As a result, the organization has a unique view of current events, and an incredibly powerful voice for addressing various priorities – said Scott.
The outgoing U.S. Ambassador and his wife were presented a special gift - gold-thread Glagolitic alphabet, as a sign of gratitude for the successful cooperation over the previous three and a half years.
The September Gathering was also attended by the Minister of Justice of Georgia Tea Tsulukiani, who joined the cocktail upon invitation by the Prime Minister, together with her delegation.
The event presented the Top members of NALED for 2019 from three sectors - businesses, local governments and civil society organizations - Director in Asseco SEE Dejan Đokić, Mayor of Užice Tihomir Petković and Vice President of ENECA MB Milivoje Jovanović. Upon further vote by NALED members, Dejan Đokić was selected as the Top member for 2019.
The September Gathering guests had an opportunity to taste more than 300 authentic specialties from all parts of Serbia, provided by 35 local governments in NALED membership, and to enjoy an exhibition of paintings by Uroš Predić, Milena Pavlović Barili, Sava Šumanović, Ilija Bašičević Bosilja, Milan Konjović and Mihailo Milovanović, including an original portrait of King Aleksandar I Karađorđević by Uroš Predić. The exhibition was displayed as part of the campaign "Art of Serbia" initiated by NALED, the cities of Pančevo, Požarevac, Sombor, Užice and the municipality of Šid, with the aim to present the unique cultural offer of these local governments, and highlight the important role of museums and galleries for local economic development. The September Gathering also served as an opportunity for museums to arrange further cooperation in organizing joint exhibitions.
NALED expresses gratitude for the support in organizing the September Gathering to the event patron - the European Investment Bank, companies Asseco SEE, Metro Cash&Carry, Atlantic group, MK group, Coca-Cola, Apatinska Brewery and Knjaz Miloš, as well as all local governments that provided authentic food and drinks made by more than 100 local producers.