We have allocated 300 billion dinars for large-scale investment projects
Aim and mission of this government is to elevate the quality of life for our citizens. Implementation of infrastructure projects is for sure on the top list of priorities.
To what extent have the pandemic and the related crisis affected transport and infrastructure activities?
The pandemic has affected and influenced the whole world followed by disbelief, shock and at the end fear. Many lives have been lost. The world has changed, people have changed, habits have changed, but over time we have learned to live with the virus, to keep faith and hope. Life shall not stop and must not stop. Life will win. In order to maintain our activities and at the same time to keep health, we are very dedicated in protection of our workers engaged in infrastructure projects. I have recognized that up till now there were delays, but in this moment works are being performed within agreed deadlines. We have been using each single sunny day of this winter in order to keep up works progress and continuity. I am pleased that all companies have responded very conscientiously, primarily respecting epidemiological measures, as human health always comes first.
How far have we come with the implementation of large-scale infrastructure projects that have been announced, such as the Niš-Priština motorway, the Morava Corridor, and investments in water transport?
Large infrastructure projects will change the face of Serbia and its road infrastructure, i.e. it will change the transport philosophy. Within few years , when we take a speed rail to Subotica, or dock in new ports and wharves, we will realize how big and difficult the goals we set were. The Morava Corridor will be a world-class motorway, state-of-the-art, the first digital motorway in Serbia, and in line with the established work dynamics. After meeting with the contractor Bechtel Enka, I expect that the first sections will be completed at the beginning of 2022. We have great expectations from the cooperation with the Office of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, especially on the Niš-Merdare-Priština project, which will symbolically mark a new beginning and victory of the peace policy. Investors are always interested in the proximity of a motorway. This project will ensure a better connection between the Toplički region and Central Serbia, which is very important for the economy of this border area and the Serbian population, but also for the entire region of the Western Balkans.
The Morava Corridor will be a world-class motorway, state-of- the-art, the first digital motorway in Serbia. I expect the first sections to be completed in 2022
How important is the construction of Trebinje airport for Serbia, but also the Western Balkans?
Once the airport is built, it will take you approximately 40 minutes to get from Belgrade to Trebinje. We are jointly implementing many projects, such as the construction of the Belgrade-Sarajevo motorway, across two routes from Kuzmin and Sremska Rača to Bijeljina and another from Požega to Kotroman. The construction of the airport in Trebinje is being realized jointly by Serbia and the Republic of Srpska, and it will start in the spring. We have allocated five billion dinars for this purpose in our 2021 budget. Relations between Serbia and the Republic of Srpska should serve as an example of how to have good cooperation, to preserve stability and peace, and to nurture the closest possible relations.
What will be the key projects in 2021 and what do you think of the budget for capital investments?
A total of 330 billion dinars have been allocated for large investment projects, which is 5.5 percent of the national GDP. Aim and mission of this government is to elevate the quality of life for our citizens. Implementation of infrastructure projects is for sure on the top list of priorities. These are results of strong and necessary measures such as fiscal consolidation and reforms, which were initiated by the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, during his term as the Prime Minister. All ongoing projects are crucial, because we promised to the Serbian citizens that they will be implemented – from the Belgrade-Subotica high-speed railroad to building apartments for members of the security forces. My expectation on the largest section of the Belgrade bypass to be finished next year. This is a project that has been talked about for decades, and we are now realizing it.
You left the business sector to work in the public sector. What are your priorities for the upcoming period?
I strongly believe in President Vučić’s vision and I respect his determination. Our goals are big, but they are realistic and achievable. Personally, I will try to ensure that all infrastructure projects develop according to the planned dynamics in the rather complex conditions of the epidemic and economic crisis. It will not be easy because we did not win over the pandemic, but we do not have time to lose, because the future of Serbia depends on those projects. It is very important to provide vacancies for the domestic construction industry, either as the main participants in new projects or as subcontractors. We care about hiring our builders and fulfilling the set tasks. Serbia has chosen its future and after many years of carelessness and lagging, we are making great strides.