Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Serbian households spend most of their income on food

By Rina Mihajlovic

Novi Sad, July 9 (Serbia Today) - The most common characteristic of poor societies is a central share of personal consumption in their GDP. In Serbia personal consumption absorbs a considerable portion of total income, which is either irregular or devaluated.
Households in Serbia have average monthly budget of approximately 45.853 dinars (500euro) in Vojvodina , and 46.326 dinars in Belgrade. Average monthly expenses are 37.668 (410euro). Most of that money goes to food and beverages, the total of 40 percent.
In 1990s personal consumption accounted for 60 percent of GDP and drastically jumped to 77 percent in the last few years. Salaries decreased as well leaving people with nothing to put aside and save on. Many of them worked only for food and utilities. Involuntary leaves mostly unpaid, created a mess in Serbian economy creating larger gap between poor and rich.
The biggest share for the “lucky” ones who got paid, goes to food which is extremely expensive according to economic specialists considering that in other countries people give 15-20 percent of their salaries for food. Another problem is that the prices constantly go up and families are left with the same amount of money but with fewer groceries. For example we buy much less food than we did last summer for the same amount of money.
The average salary last year was 420euro and this year it decreased to 340euros. If we add to it the constant fall of dinar it is obvious that consumers buying power is melting down daily.
The biggest problem is that most people can only dream about monthly budget of 500euro because many of them don’t even have a minimum wage which is approximately 165euro. How they manage to survive and buy everything they need from food to clothes is a million dollar question. These people can’t even afford to pay monthly expenses and not to mention put food on their table.
Wages, as well as prices, vary from town to town. People are forced to go to another town just to buy more for the money they have. For example, you pay the same price in Novi Sad for pork meat as you pay for veal in Novi Pazar and we know well the difference in quality. In Kraljevo you can buy cheese for 100dinars while that same cheese costs four times more in Zrenjanin.
In this case, a multiple jobs holding becomes a phenomenon because there is no other solution for this situation; but with the economy being at stake it is hard to find not only a second job but a primary one as well.

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