USAID Serbia Business Enabling Project (BEP)

Construction hats on chairs for event participants

Cardno’s public and private sector consultation spearheaded law reforms that have seen construction become Serbia’s fastest growing industry, with flow-on benefits to employment and economic growth.

Cardno’s work with USAID’s BEP in Serbia gave new life to the nation’s construction industry and economic growth by breaking through complex legislation, processes and costs faced by applicants seeking construction permits.  

Over two years, our team worked closely with the Serbian government, businesses, local universities and the general public to identify regulatory and financial obstacles to business growth, with a focus on law reform relating to construction. We used focus groups, surveys and economic analyses to support productive discussion among these stakeholders. 

Our collaboration spurred a change of legislation in March 2015, streamlining the permitting process and lowering costs to applicants by consolidating all steps into a one-stop shop. The Cardno team provided training and innovative e-government initiatives to help transform the regulatory bodies. 

BEP catalyzed economic growth in Serbia. The Project contributed to a 33 per cent increase in construction permit approvals following the changes, with almost 90 per cent of the country’s new 10,000 plus permits issued by the one-stop shops. In March 2017, Serbian authorities issued 1,491 permits – the highest number since records began.  

The new law also contributed to a 3.8 per cent drop in unemployment from late 2014 to 2015, an increase of 220,000 people in employment in 2015 and 2016, and a 15 per cent fall in red tape for businesses. In addition, Serbia was listed as one of the top reforming economies in the World Bank Group’s 2016 ease of doing business index.