OREANDA-NEWS. September 26, 2016. End-of-Mission press releases include statements of IMF staff teams that convey preliminary findings after a visit to a country. The views expressed in this statement are those of the IMF staff and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMFs Executive Board. This mission will not result in a Board discussion.

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission, led by James Roaf, visited Belgrade during September 19-23, 2016 to initiate discussions on the 2017 budget and discuss policy priorities of the new government. A full mission for the sixth review under Serbias precautionary Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF is planned for the second half of October.

At the conclusion of the visit, Mr. Roaf issued the following statement:

Serbias economic recovery continues to gather speed, supported by improved confidence and strong program performance. Recent employment trends are also encouraging. The macroeconomic outlook is positive, but risksdomestic and externalremain elevated and structural challenges persist. In this context, the mission welcomed the governments renewed commitment to structural reforms to strengthen financial stability, boost potential growth and reduce the still high unemployment level.

The mission started discussions with the authorities on fiscal policy for the remainder of 2016 and the key parameters of the 2017 budget, to be concluded in the October review mission. This discussion comes on the back of strong fiscal results in the last two years. There was agreement on maintaining the priority of public debt reduction and continuing a gradual fiscal adjustment. Within this framework, consideration will be given to potential uses of space opened by this fiscal over-performance, including for moderate and targeted increases in public wages and pensions, additional investment in key priority areas, or other growth-enhancing spending items. Any changes in wages and pensions should take into account the very low inflation environment, which has helped preserve purchasing power and improve the standards of living, and the need to ensure tight control of current public spending. The mission also discussed progress on public wage system reform and the status of public sector rightsizing.