Serbia’s largest party agrees to finance minister’s ouster

Serbian PM moves to oust finance minister, risking election

Credit: Reuters/Djordje Kojadinovic BELGRADE | Wed Jul 31, 2013 6:16am EDT BELGRADE (Reuters) – The largest party in Serbia’s government signaled its acceptance of Finance Minister Mladjan Dinkic’s dismissal, saying on Wednesday it would continue to work with the Socialists in the ruling coalition. Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, a Socialist, proposed on Tuesday that the government move on without Dinkic and his United Regions of Serbia (URS) party, a junior partner in the coalition. Deputy Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vucic, who heads the largest party, the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), said his party presidency had accepted Dacic’s proposal at a meeting on Wednesday morning. Without the 16 seats of Dinkic’s URS, the coalition would still retain a slim majority in parliament. But his departure could unnerve investors worried about Serbia’s growing budget gap and public debt, which have all but buried hopes of a new precautionary loan deal with the International Monetary Fund.

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“PURE POLITICKING” Dinkic has served as central bank governor, finance minister and economy minister under several administrations since the ouster of Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, when the country began emerging from a decade of war and economic turmoil. He led an unpopular budget reform process this year, trying to stabilize Serbia’s finances and pull the economy out of recession. Analysts say he would have taken a harder line in cutting public sector wages and pensions, but was reined in by Dacic’s Socialists who were strongly against. On Sunday, Dinkic offered to give up his economy portfolio as part of a cabinet reshuffle, but retain the position of finance minister. Dacic said the offer fell short.

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