A predictable and transparent business environment, based on the rule of law and respect for legal frameworks and procedures, is a condition for attracting investments from developed countries, said the president of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), Svetlana Vuksanović.
Vuksanović said that only such an environment is a guarantee of attracting and retaining renowned American and other foreign investors.
Asked how she evaluates the current business climate in Montenegro, taking into account the political instability, she said that legal and political uncertainty undeniably demotivates investors.
– Our task as a society, which strives for prosperous economies, is to provide an adequate environment and a constructive dialogue – said Vuksanović.
As she announced, political uncertainty directly affects the lack of initiatives for new projects, because distrust among investors is growing due to inadequate planning, financing, as well as frequent changes in personnel decisions in positions that are important in the decision-making process.
Vuksanović said that AmCham recognizes this problem, adding that the members already state that the unpredictable political situation will have long-term negative consequences through the reduction of foreign investments.
– Which will be addressed through the next Report on the Business Environment, which we will soon publish – added Vuksanović.
She stated that decision-makers must maintain a timely, constructive and transparent dialogue with the private sector, as investments of national interest were realized.
– That is why the new platform of the American Chamber of Commerce “Rule of Dialogue”, which was launched in the last year, is a good basis for cooperation, because it aims to involve the business community in decision-making through continuous and timely dialogue and it is a natural continuation of activities on that topic that the AmCham executive office has been implementing for years – said Vuksanović.
She said that through the platform they cooperate with seven ministries in the Government and other administrative bodies, because they believe that only better cooperation between state authorities and the economy can create a predictable business environment that affirms equal conditions for all actors on the market.
As she announced, AmCham wants to help with the “Rule of Dialogue” program in establishing coordinated cooperation between the business community and decision-makers, which will make complex problems solved in a structured way and establish standards for solving future ones.
According to Vuksanović, every day they receive a large amount of information about the challenges that the business sector faces, so they continuously suggest how they can be overcome.
– The key prerequisite is cooperation and continuous dialogue, in order to create a system of policies and measures that reflect a predictable and transparent policy, attractive to investors – stressed Vuksanović.
She said that the key barriers in business have become more or less chronic and mostly relate to suppression of the gray economy, unfair competition, insufficient level of investment in the IT sector, where there is huge potential, as well as insufficient guidance of young people on the skills that are in demand labor market.
– We believe that unfair competition, produced by the informal economy, is a serious obstacle that negatively affects the business environment in Montenegro – said Vuksanović.
This, as she clarified, is caused by unequal application of the law, inadequate legislative framework, insufficient inspection staff and weak coordination between the relevant state institutions.
As she added, the level of investment in the IT sector is insufficient to encourage and develop competitiveness, it is even among the smallest in the region, and is far below the average of the European Union.
According to her assessment, it is necessary for the Government to recognize the potential of this economic branch, and to adopt adequate financial measures to support the IT sector, in order to become a catalyst for the development of the innovative economy, and to strengthen traditional economic branches as well.
– In addition, we must implement fundamental reforms of the education system, through the modernization of educational programs and learning methods in educational institutions, in order to bridge the mismatch between the demand and supply of labor on the labor market – stated Vuksanović.
She stated that the share of the gray economy is still at a very high level, significantly higher compared to European countries, and that the state apparatus needs to recognize the fight against the gray economy as its priority, in order to stabilize public finances.
As she pointed out, AmCham has been indicating for years that it is necessary to revise the regulations governing inspection supervision, in order to enable the implementation of control and the sanctioning of those entities that are not registered and perform economic activity.
– Businessmen who regularly do business and regularly fulfill their obligations to the state are in an unequal position compared to those who do business in the gray zone – said Vuksanović.
She stated that special attention should be paid to the use of goods that have not passed adequate checks, because any sale of unregistered goods or provision of unregistered services carries a risk to public health.
As she added, special attention should be paid to increasingly frequent sales via social networks, i.e. the Internet, where goods and services are offered by unregistered traders.
– With such a purchase, citizens not only participate in the gray economy, but also give up their consumer rights – explained Vuksanović.
She stated that AmCham continuously indicates that it is necessary to increase the capacity and efficiency of the work of inspection services, as the basic link between the policies that the Government adopts and those who should apply those policies.
– There is a serious institutional problem in the form of a lack of inspection personnel, which needs to be solved urgently, since the state must strengthen the control of all possible harmful behavior, and then good work in the field must be accompanied by adequate punishments from the judicial authorities – concluded Vuksanović.