Serbia: On the road to achieving the 2030 Agenda
Title: Public finance reform – 2030 Agenda
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
Country: Republic of Serbia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Serbia
Overall term: 2018 to 2022
Serbia started accession negotiations with the European Union (EU) in 2014 and is undertaking important political and economic reforms aimed at strengthening the stability of the state and the public finance system. As a signatory to the United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda), Serbia is committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
However, Serbia currently lacks sufficient resources to finance the necessary reforms for EU accession and implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Although the Serbian Government underscores the overlaps between EU accession and the 2030 Agenda, there is currently no coherent policy programme in place. The Government has also yet to define which of the goals specified in the global 2030 Agenda have priority for Serbia. At the same time, there is a lack of a society-wide dialogue as a whole on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
The Serbian government increasingly aligns its policies and the public finance system with the aims of EU integration and implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Cofinanced by German and Swiss development cooperation, the project aims to initiate key reforms for the 2030 Agenda and align them with the principles of good governance. To this end, it addresses the main topics of the Serbian reform agenda and promotes necessary measures. The activities are based on the public financial management reform programme, the tax administration transformation programme, the strategy for development of public internal financial control and the 2030 Agenda.
The project advises various institutions on technical issues, management and strategy, including the Ministry of Finance, the Tax Administration, the State Audit Institution, the Head of the Inter-Ministerial Working Group and the Statistical Office. It also promotes the establishment of a civil society dialogue platform on the 2030 Agenda open to all society stakeholders. Through this platform, citizens, initiatives and associations can get involved in the political dialogue.
The project focuses on five fields of activity: 1) capacity development of Serbian key actors for financing the 2030 Agenda, 2) improved services for taxpayers, 3) budget transparency, financial control and accountability, 4) policy coordination for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and 5) society-wide dialogue on the 2030 Agenda.
- The 2019–2020 action plan on Serbia's public financial management reform programme, which contains 47 measures in total, has been updated.
- Together with the Ministry of Finance, the reports for programme budgeting have been improved. The citizens‘ budget for 2020 was also published.
- In cooperation with the University of Criminal Investigation and Police Studies special training courses were held for tax investigators and customs officers, which has made it possible for the institutions to generate more public revenue.
- An analysis of direct and indirect taxation and mutual assistance was carried out and serves as a basis for further adjustments to EU negotiating chapter 16.
- Support was provided to the Customs Administration in managing EU funds in accordance with negotiation chapter 33. This made it possible for the Customs Administration to successfully fulfil its obligations to the EU.
- Cooperation has been established between the Ministry of Finance and the Head of the Inter-Ministerial Working Group on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
- Improved processes and procedures have been implemented in the anti-fraud coordination service for EU funding (AFCOS) and the budget inspection department.
- The first Voluntary National Review (VNR) was prepared with the support of the project and presented to the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July 2019. The VNR is considered the starting point for the current state of SDG implementation in Serbia.
- With the Head of the Inter-Ministerial Working Group and the Serbian Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities, a series of events on the localisation of SDGs was organised for local decision-makers, media and non-governmental organisations.