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Serbia's new government to overhaul economy

By The Associated Press

This article was published April 27, 2014 at 10:59 a.m.

— Serbia's prime minister-designate on Sunday promised a total overhaul of the economy in the Balkan country that went through a decade of wars and international isolation in the 1990s, but is now seeking EU membership.

Aleksandar Vucic told the lawmakers that "you will sleep and eat here" in order to pass by July 15 the first set of reform laws that are necessary to introduce market reform.

"This is something that has been put off for too long," he added. "Changes and modernization are the key words."

Vucic's center-right government is expected to be voted into office later Sunday. His Serbian Progressive Party has won the majority of 158 seats in the 250-member assembly in March 16 elections.

The new Cabinet will also include ministers from smaller allied parties.

Liberal opposition leader Dragan Djilas criticized the future prime minister, saying he had offered no new solutions. Djilas said that "one man will be making all the decisions, which is not good for Serbia."

Vucic, who is a former hardline nationalist-turned pro-EU reformer, has gained popularity by promising an uncompromising struggle against rampant corruption amid widespread poverty.

Vucic said the economic changes will include cuts in the public sector, budget revision and privatization of state-run companies, coupled with boosting the private sector. He predicted possible protests, but pledged to stick to reform.

EU opened accession talks with Serbia this year, after Belgrade agreed to normalize ties with breakaway Kosovo.


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