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Private sector takes over Serbia's economy

Belgrade, Feb 27, 2004 - Privatised companies in Serbia employ some 360,000 workers, putting the number of Serbia's private sector employees at around 760,000, Serbian Privatisation Agency Director Mirko Cvetkovic said at a round table meeting on Thursday, stressing that the private sector has taken over the country's economy.

Over the past three years, Serbia has privatised a total of 1,117 companies out of the 1,420 offered for sale, raising receipts of EUR 1.3 billion, said Cvetkovic. A total of 35 companies were sold in tenders and 913 at public auctions, while the Serbian Share Fund sold state owned shares in a further 169 firms.

Revenues raised from sales were 17 percent higher on average than the estimated book value of companies that went private, he added.

Also attending the meeting was World Bank expert Itzhak Goldberg who said that that Serbia's new government should not alter the current sell-off model or institutions established to implement privatisation efforts.

Goldberg urged the new authorities to maintain privatisation momentum, launch restructuring, and start the sale of infrastructure companies.

Participants in the meeting agreed that Serbia should speed up privatisation efforts to sell the rest of state-run and socially-owned firms. They also called on the authorities to stick to the current sell-off model and improve it by adding other sale options, such as vouchers and recapitalisation.

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