While criticism of neoliberalism is in full swing in the world, the economic policy of the regime of Aleksandar Vučić continues to rely on that doctrine. The undisputed leader imposes the debt bondage trap on the people and the state. The obedient people entitled to vote believe in fairy tales about the “Serbian economic miracle” and will face the consequences soon. Vučić is rapidly borrowing in foreign currency, and when the time comes to repay the loan, he will have to introduce austerity measures and sell off the remaining public property. Then, the best companies that are still in the public sector will be sold mostly to foreign companies, such as EPS, Telecom, and numerous public service companies. At the same time, it will be the end of Serbian sovereignty, since foreigners will own all valuable property, including natural resources.
It is estimated that the public debt will be higher than thirty billion euros by the end of the year. Serbia’s economic development relies on foreign capital, not domestic companies. According to the Serbian Development Agency, Serbia has attracted more than 34 billion euros in foreign direct investment since 2007. The most foreign capital came from Italy, 10.7 percent, followed by United States with 10.2 percent, France 9.7 percent, Germany 9.6 percent, Austria 9.3 percent, China 8.9 percent, the Czech Republic 6.8 percent. Capital from Western countries absolutely dominates. Considering the growing public debt in foreign currency and the significant share of foreign capital in the country’s economy, the autonomous economic development of Serbia is seriously called into question.
Such a neo-colonial position of the state will become even worse by the privatization of the most valuable public companies.
Vučić conceals the policy of subjugating Serbia with intensified quasi-nationalist rhetoric. In recent weeks, regime propaganda is more often mentioning the idea of a “Serbian world.” Minister Aleksandar Vulin recently said that the “Serbian world” is a “political and state space”. Apart from incendiary rhetoric, Vučić is not doing anything concrete in that direction. The construction of infrastructure best shows the spatial strategy of the state. If there was an intention for all-Serbian integration, the state would build roads and high-speed railways to Republika Srpska. However, the construction of the Nis-Merdare-Pristina highway has been announced. The Belgrade-Budapest high-speed railway is being built as part of the great Chinese initiative “Belt and Road”. Also, the construction of the Belgrade-Zrenjanin-Novi Sad highway should start at the end of the year. This road does not represent any infrastructure priority for Serbia, and it is being built because a large car tire factory, which is being built in Zrenjanin by the Chinese company Linglong needs it. It is obvious that the infrastructure is being built in the north-south direction. That does not integrate the Serbian world but separates it.
Due to the demographic and economic situation, Serbia is not capable of any great undertakings. According to the latest estimates of the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia, Serbia has less than seven million inhabitants. The share of people aged 65 and over is 21.1 percent, and those under 15 are 14.3 percent! It is clear to everyone, except the SNS voters, that flirting with the ideology of the “Serbian world” is a plane farce. Probably because of that, the tragicomic Vulin was chosen to be its main protagonist.
Vučić’s regime denies Serbian sovereignty in all fields. According to Alek Kavčić, the textbook industry in Serbia is worth one hundred million euros, while the investment in their production is not more than a million or two. It is not just about profit, but also about ideology. Economist Paul Samuelson said that it is not important who writes the laws, but who writes the textbooks.
Vučić accuses environmental activists and a small number of opposition media of being foreign mercenaries, and at the same time German Jerg Heskens works in the Presidency of Serbia as an economic advisor. Does he care more about the economic interests of Serbia or Germany? While Vucic being humbler towards foreign powers and global capital, he is raising nationalist uproar.
Vučić will explain the new robbery of public property by the neoliberal doctrine according to which market exchange is a value, capable of managing all human activities. Neoliberals claim that public ownership always leads to inefficient management, waste of resources, corruption, neglect of consumer interests, that it is not able to provide quality expertise and does not encourage innovation. Wherever possible, the right to private property should be established and the autonomous market should be able to allocate resources through its automatic self-regulatory mechanisms, natural resources must be treated as economic, goods as any other. When a price mechanism is applied to all goods, including natural resources, it will lead to a more economical use of limited resources. The degradation of nature and inefficient use of resources can be eliminated only if private ownership and individual initiative replace state inertia and incompetence. If the market manages technological innovations, substitutes will be provided for the already exhausted natural resources. Behind such doctrines lies an attempt at unlimited plunder of public and natural resources. The privatization of various forms of public ownership is part of the global expansion of capital, which creates new opportunities for profit production, robbery of common property and the establishment of private control over nature.
The existing public companies in Serbia are the last remaining of the progressive achievements of the socialist period. By selling public giants such as EPS and Telecom, Serbia will be left without economic infrastructure through which it can influence economic development and pursue an independent economic policy. With the privatization of public companies, public monopolies will be turned into private ones, and a market will not be created. Public monopolies can be kept under democratic control, private monopolists try to increase prices by blackmailing consumers who do not have freedom of choice.
Thus, we will soon have a fully applied neoliberal model of economic organization in Serbia, in which the ownership of the most valuable natural and economic resources will be in the hands of foreign companies, and the domestic population will be proletarianized. The governments of the countries that are colonies systematically produce poverty, which is a way to force the domestic population to work in foreign companies for poor wages. Most people in Serbia will be deprived of the basic achievements of contemporary civilization.
For public companies to serve public goals, political parties must be expelled from them. The party oligarchy has already carried out a wild privatization of the public sector, by turning it into a reservoir of privileges for party leaders and their supporters and the main source of corruption in society.
Miroslav Samardzic, political scientist