Annual programme 2003
Focal area: Social development & civil society
Sector: Support to civil society
Cost: €1 million
Over a quarter of the state’s (excluding Kosovo) eight million people live in poverty while an additional 20% are near poor. As a result of conflicts, 600,000 refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) live in FRY, representing an additional “burden” and concern in the current difficult economic circumstances. Other most affected groups, according to the assessments of the Serbian Ministry of Social Affairs, are the pensioners (1.5 million), and the unemployed (750,000). The EC/Agency acknowledges the potential gap between the end of humanitarian assistance and economic recovery and has endeavoured to take this into consideration.
In April 2002, Serbia prepared a draft Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). The central objective of a country’s PRSP is to try to ensure that policy actions to increase growth and reduce poverty are integrated into a coherent macro-economic framework after extensive consultations with national stakeholders. Serbia and Montenegro completed Interim PRSPs by June 2002. The Ministry of Social Affairs is the lead ministry in the PRSP process in Serbia. Design of the final PRSP documents began in September 2002 and the strategy should be completed by the end of July 2003. The implementation of the PRSP is planned to start in August 2003. The Serbian government recognised the PRSP as an opportunity to create a national economic development strategy, which helps vulnerable groups. One of the key concerns, given the financial constraints on the budget, is how to balance support for economic growth and employment with the provision of social assistance to the poor and vulnerable populations during the period of transition.
The Serbian government and non-government organisations have recently agreed that a consultative and participatory process is essential for the development of a comprehensive PRSP strategy. As participation of civil society organisations in the PRSP process is one of the key requirements of the World Bank and IMF, the Serbian Government requested assistance to facilitate inclusion of civil society organisations in the design, implementation and monitoring of the PRSP.
Complementary and past EC assistance
The EC has supported a number of projects that are directly or indirectly related to the poverty alleviation process: for example, programmes dealing with economic growth (enterprise development), reforms of labour and social policy, public health, the improvement of basic services at the local level through various municipality programmes and support to NGOs’ activities dealing with social and economic issues. This programme will also build on the provision of previous basic humanitarian assistance, implemented by ECHO, that was targeted at the poorest strata of society.
Related assistance of other donors
From April 2002, the World Bank engaged Serbia and Montenegro in the PRSP process through a Poverty Trust Fund for Serbia and Montenegro. DFID also support the process by allocating funds to the PSRP Management Unit. UNDP will facilitate consultations between the civil society organisations and the Government, while the Norwegian Government will contribute to a Social Innovation Fund to Fight Poverty.
Inclusion in poverty reduction strategy process - €1 million
The project will facilitate a process of consultations between the government and civil society organisations in a staged process of elaborating the overall poverty reduction strategy paper (PRSP) and the establishment of the Management Unit of the Social Innovation Fund to Fight Poverty (SIFFP) with the Ministry of Social Affairs.
As a commitment to the PRSP process, the Government will allocate minimum €1.6 million from the 2003 budget. Further Government allocations are expected to come from the Lottery revenues and will increase each year. UNDP will take a lead coordination role in institutionalising the policy dialogue process between the government and civil society organisations and support implementation of PRSP through establishment of a Management Unit for the SIFFP.