Serbia’s Last Govt Accused of Hiding Public Debt

As Serbia’s State Auditors finalise their account of the public debt for 2011, the Finance Minister has accused the former government of concealing its true size.Radoslav Sretenovic, head of the State Audit Institution, DRI, is to publish the final data on the public debt as it stood on December 31, 2011, at the end of October.

“We are practically in the final phase”, he said, adding that the law and the DRI code of conduct did not allow him to reveal more precise information on the size of the public debt. He did, however, concede that the public debt had risen.

Ahead of the release of the data, however, Mladjan Dinkic, Minister of Finance and Economy, on Sunday said that the former Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Mirko Cvetkovic, had falsified the data on the size of public debt at the end of 2011.Cvetkovic claimed that it amounted to 45.1 per cent of the GDP, when in fact, according to Dinkic, the real level was 49.6 per cent.

Dinkic said that the previous government, of which he was also a member until a 2011 reshuffle, had concealed 1.2 billion euro of debt.

Last week, the new Socialist-led government adopted a 2012 draft budget review and 12 laws regulating public finance, designed to reduce the consolidated budget deficit from 7.1 per cent to 6.7 per cent by the end of the year.

But the IMF mission, which ended a five-day visit to Serbia on Friday, is not satisfied with the 2012 budget balancing bill. It recommends additional spending cuts before parliament passes the 2012 budget balancing bill.

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