BELGRADE -- Tuesday – According to official data from the Labour Ministry, twenty per cent of Serbian citizens are living below the poverty line.
In Serbian monetary standards, families which have a total monthly income of seventy euros or less, are considered to be impoverished.
According to Labour, Employment and Social Policy Minister Slobodan Lalovic, the poverty situation in Serbia will see positive changes only if the Serbian people change their attitudes towards work.
“We cannot put and end to poverty or bring the figures to an acceptable level in Serbia if we continue to live in this situation where many companies are having a hard time finding willing employees. I recently received information that corn producers in Macva are willing to pay thirty euros per day for harvesting work but cannot find workers. Then we have to ask ourselves whether we are truly poor,” Lalovic said.
Most recent and former high officials of the Serbian Labour Ministry tend to agree that unemployment is one of Serbia’s most urgent problems.
Former Labour Minister Gordana Markovic said that the greatest obstacles for economic prosperity are the lack of investments and unemployment, adding that the three main politic questions weighing most heavily on Serbia’s shoulders, the unfinished business with the Hague Tribunal, the status of Kosovo, and relations with Montenegro, have a lot to do with the high poverty rate.
Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus said that “long-term economic growth and decreasing unemployment must be the Serbian Government’s main tasks. For this we must secure new investments and a better economic ambient.”
President of the Free Workers Union, Dragoljub Stosic, said that Albania was once the regional poster child for poverty, but that because of the high unemployment rate and the increased amount of corruption, Serbia has now taken over the role.
“We are, unfortunately, one of the countries for which days such as this are being recognized.” Stosic said yesterday, which marked the International Day for the Fight Against Poverty.
“We are on the same level as Rwanda and similar countries, though I would not compare them with us because, there are increasingly fewer and fewer nations with whom we can compare ourselves. We cannot offer help today, we can only ask for charity.” Stosic said. b92