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Treasury Sells EUR 32m in 3-Mo T-Bills
Serbia’s Finance Ministry said on Tuesday it sold out its 3.0 billion dinar ($45 million/32 million euro) offer of three-month Treasury bills.

The average accepted price in the auction was equal to 96.83% of par and the accepted interest rate was 12.95%, the ministry said in a statement posted on its website.

The ministry sold a total of 300,000 T-bills with a nominal value of 10,000 dinars each, it added. They will mature on October 13.

In the previous auction of three-month T-bills held on July 7 the ministry sold out its 3.0 billion dinars offer worth of government securities at an annual interest rate of 13.98%.

Serbia holds scheduled auctions of three-month T-bills every week on Tuesdays and of six-month T-bills on Thursdays. The next auctions of three-month and six-month T-bills will be held on July 21 and July 16, respectively.

Mrkonjić: Autoput Beograd-južni Jadran od 2010.
Ministar za infrastrukturu Milutin Mrkonjić ponovio je danas u Valjevu da su prioriteti Vlade Srbije izgradnja koridora 10 i autoputa Beograd-južni Jadran. On je u razgovoru sa novinarima u Valjevu precizirao da će do 1. januara 2010. biti završeni projekti i pripremljen deo eksproprijacije zemljišta, pa će radovi na autoputu Beograd-južni Jadran početi 1. marta 2010. godine.

"Još uvek nismo doneli odluku da li ćemo autoput raditi sopstvenim sredstvima ili kreditima, mada ni koncesija nije isključena", kazao je Mrkonjić i dodao da su za Vladu Srbije važne i lokalne saobraćajnice.

On danas nije želeo da govori o eventualnom nastavku davno započete izgradnje pruge Valjevo-Loznica.

Belgrade-based Tehnopromet sells HQ building - starting price is 6m EUR
Stock company "Tehnopromet" announced the tender for sale of business building at 3,833 square meters in 28 Kralja Aleksandra Boulevard in Belgrade at the starting price of 6m EUR.

The facility has cellar (528.20 square meters), restaurant (318.96 square meters), ground floor (115.28 square meters), mezzanine (126.63 square meters), and nine floors. The surface of the first floor is 310.65 square meters, the surface of the ninth floor is 210.47 square meters, while the surface of all other floors is 309.94 square meters.

Public opening of bids will be organized on July 21, 2009, and the bidders are to submit banking guarantee worth 300,000 EUR.

Joint Serbia, Croatia participation in transport projects
Serbian Minister of Infrastructure Milutin Mrkonjic said today that the main subject of talks between Serbian and Croatian transport experts was Corridor 10, as well as various other issues related to the transport sector.

Speaking at a press conference, Mrkonjic said that agreement was reached that the two countries will jointly approach international and European institutions for support in order to carry out these projects.

Croatian Ambassador to Serbia Zeljko Kupresak and Mrkonjic signed the minutes of the two day talks between Serbian and Croatian experts held in Belgrade. Kupresak stressed that issues relating to road, air, water and rail transportation were successfully resolved.

He stressed that the talks focused on the European transport corridors passing through Serbia and Croatia, as well as ways to improve communications between the two countries.

State Secretary for air transport at the Serbian Ministry of Infrastructure Miodrag Miljkovic said that Serbian and Croatian delegations reached an agreement regarding road transport that a further 5,000 goods transport licenses will be issued by both sides by October 15 and that the final number of permits for this year should be determined at the next meeting of the joint committee.

He said that it was agreed that the Croatian side will examine Serbia’s demand for a further 15,000 licenses. The establishment of rail and road links at the Bogojevo-Erdut border crossing will be considered and in September or October this year bilateral negotiations concerning the drafting of a new agreement on border controls for railway traffic will begin.

Miljkovic said that regarding water transport it was agreed that the final text of the agreement between the two countries concerning inland navigation and waterway maintenance will be harmonised at the meeting to be held on August 26 in Croatia and that immediate action will be taken to resolve critical problems on parts of the Danube river, particularly the Apatin sector.

He said it was agreed that Jat Airways will receive a temporary licence for flying into Dubrovnik as soon as it requests one.

Miljkovic explained that the Serbian and Croatian aviation authorities will be in charge of issuing temporary flying licences until a bilateral agreement on air traffic is signed.

The State Secretary said it was also agreed that a procedure for signing the air traffic agreement between the two countries should be initiated as soon as possible, recalling that both countries have ratified the Agreement on European Common Aviation Area.

Miljkovic noted that the agreement will enable both Serbian and Croatian companies to conduct business in line with EU standards.

The two delegations agreed to organise an expert meeting by July 24 in order to solve technical problems when it comes to landing at and taking off from Osijek Airport.

Director General of Croatian Civil Aviation Jure Saric said that so far there have been no announcements that Croatia Airways will organise flights to Serbian, but they, together with the Croatian aviation authorities, are ready to consider the issue as soon as any interest is shown.

We Will Have Wheat for Export
Serbia’s 2009 wheat yield should be between 1.8 and 2 million tons of wheat, which will be enough for domestic demand and enable the country to export several hundred thousand tons, stated yesterday Professor Miroslav Malesevic, PhD, from Institute of Field and Vegetable Crops, Novi Sad. In spite of all the rain, the crops and yield are as expected, said he.

No Agreement on Minimum Wages
Working group for determining minimum wages started adjusting minimum wage which, until June, amounted to RSD 87 per hour or RSD 15,135. There is no consent on the amount of minimum wage because the representatives of ministries in charge of the issue want to keep the minimum wage at the same level for the period July-December. In addition, they openly oppose to increasing tariffs in problematic companies. The representatives of the Association of Trade Unions and the Association of sector trade unions Nezavisnost insist on minimum wages which would amount to RSD 90 per working hour. The proposal to increase the price of one working hour to RSD 93 was rejected. The final proposal for minimum wage will be determined by the Socio-economic Council.

Serbia's June CPI Remains Flat M/M, Rises 8.3% Y/Y
CPI COICOP presents a special retail prices index that is being calculated according to the methodology that is harmonized with recommendations for retail prices index calculation in the European Union (Harmonized price index).

CPI COICOP is defined as a measure of average change of retail prices of goods and services used for personal consumption.

Prices of these products and services in June 2009 in relation to May 2009 remained on the same level, on average. Consumer prices in June 2009 increased by 8.3% in relation to June 2008 and relative to December 2008, by 7.0%.

Observed by main groups according to destination of consumption in June 2009 in relation to the previous month, the greatest increase of prices was noted in the groups of Communications (2.1%), Transport (1.7%) and Education (1.5%), while the decrease of -1.0% was noted in the group of Food and non-alcoholic beverages.

Prices of other products and services mostly remained unchanged.

Agreement on Banatski Dvor on Friday
The joint venture agreement on modernization of underground gas storage facility Banatski Dvor by Srbijagas and Gazprom is completed. It was sent yesterday to Austrian consultants and should be returned to Srbijagas for translation today. Srbijagas CEO Dusan Bajatovic says for Blic daily that the agreement should be adopted by the Serbian government if everything goes according to the plan. “The agreement first has to be adopted by the government’s boards, and than the government, which means that it could ideally be signed on Friday,” said he.

EC Adopts Visa-Free Travel for Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro
In a long-waited decision that has sparked enthusiastic reactions in some parts of the region and disillusionment in others, the European Commission has adopted a proposal for granting visa-free travel to the citizens of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn and his counterpart from justice and home affairs, Jacques Barrot, presented the visa-liberalisation proposal in Brussels this afternoon.

“Today’s proposal is very important and is the result of intensive and hard work for the authorities and the people of these countries in meeting the conditions [for visa liberalisation],” Barrot said.

Dialogue on visas started with Western Balkans countries in 2006, while visa liberalization process was launched in 2008. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania are also in the process, but are deemed to have not fulfilled the necessary conditions.

Rehn said he hoped that Bosnian and Herzegovina and Albania would soon catch up to their neighbours.

“If all conditions are fulfilled the commission could envisage making a new proposal, which would include them by mid 2010,” Rehn said.

As far as Macedonia is concerned, Barrot said the country had done "very well".

With regard to Montenegro, he said the EU was going to continue to closely monitor the implementation of the law of foreigners and the fight against organised crime.

On Serbia, Rehn said: "It is indeed the case that Kosovo, under [UN Resolution] 1244 is not part of present dialogue on visa liberalization. It is [an] objective fact that Kosovo doesn’t meet conditions because of security concerns...Cooperation between EULEX and Serbia is important."

Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania started the process to obtain visa-free travel to Europe early in 2008.

However, Albania and Bosnia have been ranked at the end of the list and therefore will not be included in the first round of visa liberalization. According to EC sources, they will have to wait until mid-2010.

Once the proposal has been presented, it has to pass through the Council of Ministers and finally receive a green light from the European Parliament.

The decision at the ministers’ level does not require unanimous voting, therefore European officials are hoping that the whole procedure will be finished by the end of this year, so that citizens of the three countries can freely travel in the Schengen states as from January 2010.

In the meantime, citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania are lamenting the fact that they have been left out of the process.

Regarding Bosnia, Barrot had this to say: "Bosnia and Herzegovina does not yet have any biometric passports. If we had proposed to have BiH enter now into the system of lifting visas, then I wouldn’t have gotten approval from the council. We have to move in [a] step-by-step process, and since BiH have not been able to distribute these passports, that is the problem."

Regional Reactions

Teodora Knez-Milenkovic, 29, from Belgrade, Serbia, told Balkan Insight: "That is such wonderful news. Honestly, I cannot believe I'll be able just to get into my car and go wherever i want to. I cant wait!

Also speaking from Belgrade, Dragica Savicevic, 62, said: I haven't heard such good news for a while. Although its not quite clear to me how it applies to Serbs in Kosovo. But the news itself is good no matter what the price."

Nevena Georgievski, from Skopje, Macedonia told Balkan Insight that visa liberalisation would mean freedom "to be able to travel in Europe wherever and whenever you want, not having to plan the trip three months in advance and not having to collect a ton of documents just to be dependent on the good will of some administrative worker in the embassy."

"The visa scrapping will finally put an end to the limited movement of Macedonian citizens and will open new opportunities for business, education and communication. This chance should not be used for leaving the country but for learning new experiences, for importing European values at home," said Kiril, a 32-year-old Macedonian businessman.

In the Kosovo capital of Pristina, local resident Kaltrina Hoxha said: "It is fair that Kosovo is not part of the liberalisation process because we are not as ready as the other countries, but I feel sorry because we will not be able to travel as freely as our neighbours."

In Bosnia, the mood is one of disappointment and disillusionment, with many viewing the decision as an act, however indirect, of discrimination against Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), as Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Serbs have the opportunity to hold dual citizenship with Serbia and Croatia and can thus take advantage of current visa liberalisation.

"This effectively means that only Bosniaks will not be able to travel freely in Europe, while the rest of the countries citizens will be able to move from country to country with no problem. I understand why Bosnia was not granted visa liberalisation, but nonetheless, the result is discrimination," Alma Begovic, 52, a resident of Sarajevo, told Balkan Insight.

Indeed, the Young European Federalist Movement, JEF, has criticized the EU visa liberalisation policy towards the Western Balkans, arguing that it could potentially create new divisions and anti-EU sentiments by leaving out Muslim minorities.

Moreover, European Parliament has had to contend with some strong criticism within its own ranks. The Green group in the European Parliament criticised the timing of the visa liberalisation announcement, which came only days after the 14th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys. The group called the decision "hypocritical and morally abject", according to a Reuters report.

Reuters also quoted Christian Schwarz-Schilling, the international community's former high representative to Bosnia, as slamming the decision to leave Bosnia out of the visa liberalisation process "a mockery and a blow against all European values".

The Chinese to build the Vinca bridge?
Construction of road and rail bridge across the Danube near Vinca will also be offered to the Chinese. Estimated cost of the bridge, without access roads, is approximately EUR 100 million. Serbian government has already prepared the memorandum of understanding, which should be signed in Beijing. The Chinese will also be in charge for the construction of the bridge between Zemun and Borca, as previously arranged.

NIS: 42,000 tons of petrol in July
Serbian Oil Industry (NIS) informed that it plans to produce 42,000 tons of motor fuel in July, of which 30,000 tons of unleaded petrol. NIS is gradually reducing production of leaded petrol and is considering the possibility of increasing production of unleaded petrol to 80 percent of total production.

Unleaded petrol currently makes 60 percent of production in NIS refineries. The company is going to invest EUR 118 million in modernization.

Petrohemija to resume production on August 1
Pancevo-based Petrohemija will resume production on August 1, even though negotiations on raw material procurement are still underway. Sasa Pavlov from the company’s management says the workers will not lose their jobs and the factory will not be shut down.

Pavlov informs that each meeting with the representatives of NIS and Lukoil yields results, in spite of the fact that negotiations on raw material procurement and debt rescheduling took longer than planned. Pavlov says 8,000 tons of raw petrol has been provided from NIS so far and 25,000 tons should be provided by Lukoil.

Dinar stable in autumn
Serbian dinar has been quite stable over the past weeks. The medium rate of exchange amounts to approximately RSD 93 to the euro, and should remain the same in autumn. The dinar is currently stable owing to the IMF agreement. The Foundation for the Advancement of Economics (FREN) believes the dinar rate will not change in the following quarters.

Incentives for Attracting Investments
Contracts for the allocation of non-returnable funds from the national budget will be signed with 17 domestic and foreign companies aiming to stimulate direct investments, at the Ministry of Economy and Regional Development, today, announced the ministry yesterday.The implementation of the contracts, based on the Bill on terms and methods for attracting foreign investments, will produce investments amounting to a total of nearly EUR 127.3 million in 15 municipalities and will provide 2,402 new jobs.

Minister Mrkonjic: construction of Corridor 10 and Belgrade-South Adriatic Highway Top Priorities
Infrastructure Minister Milutin Mrkonjic repeated today in Valjevo that the Serbian government’s priorities were the construction of Corridor 10 and Belgrade-South Adriatic Highway. When addressing the media in Valjevo, he said that projects and a part of expropriation plans will be completed until January 1, 2010, which means that the works can start on March 1, 2010. “We still haven’t decided whether e will construct the highway with our own money or with loans, although concession is also not out of question,” said Mrkonjic and added that the government is also focused on local roads. He did not wish to comment on the possible continuation of construction of Valjevo-Loznica railroad.

First Tractors Delivered to Republika Srpska
Republika Srpska Minister of Finance and two commercial banks signed on subsidising interest rates for loans to farmers for purchasing IMT tractors and for the purchase of Punto cars. The signing marked the beginning of the first phase of implementation of the Agreement on Economic Cooperation between Serbia and Republika Srpska. The signing was attended by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Regional Development Mladjan Dinkic and Republika Srpska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik. Following the signing Dinkic said that he is pleased that the project has been realized in such a short period, adding that deliveries to Republika Srpska will begin shortly. He stressed that the furniture made in RS is already on the Serbian market at very favorable prices and with baking subsidies. RS Agriculture Minister Radivoje Bratic and Dinkic handed over the first 20 IMT tractors at subsidized price of EUR 6,160 (without VAT) to farmers from RS, yesterday, in Kobatovac near Banja Luka.

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