(Adds Vucic quotes, analyst, rights group)
By Ivana Sekularac and Ingrid Melander
BELGRADE Aug 8 Dusan Vujovic, a former World
Bank economist, will stay on as Serbia's finance minister in a
new cabinet unveiled on Monday and faces a tough task of making
unpopular spending cuts, including public sector lay-offs, under
an IMF loan deal.
Vujovic, who has been finance minister since 2014,
spearheaded the talks on the 1.2 billion euro ($1.33 billion)
deal with the International Monetary Fund and his confirmation
in the job signals a continuity in economic policy.
Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, who aims to conclude
European Union accession talks in 2020, won a comfortable
majority in an April election, but delayed forming a new cabinet
while seeking a coalition to share responsibility for reforms.
"The new government will be the government of progress and
prosperity," Vucic said as he presented his 19-member cabinet,
which continues the four-year-old alliance between his
centre-right Serbian Progressive Party and the Socialist Party.
Vucic, who has headed the government since 2014, predicted a
new "golden era" for Serbia, but did not mention the downsizing
of the bloated public sector required by the IMF. He is due to
present the government's programme in parliament on Tuesday.
The IMF commended Serbia in June for its strong economic
performance, forecasting economic growth of 2.5 percent this
year, but urged it to do more to curb high levels of debt.
Otilia Dhand, an analyst at Teneo Intelligence political
risk consultancy, said she expected policy continuity,
especially on fiscal issues, with the prolongation of the
coalition and the re-appointment of Vujovic as finance minister.
"But whether we are going to see any significant progress on
structural reforms, and especially on reduction of the public
sector work force, I don't see any particular change that would
convince me that there will be any significant improvement."
An ultra-nationalist during Yugoslavia's wars of the 1990s,
Vucic performed a political U-turn in 2008 and embraced Serbia's
drive to join the EU. He has rebranded himself as a conservative
reformer committed to cutting the budget deficit and debt and to
shrinking the public sector.
Vucic called the early election to tighten his grip on power
and secure a new four-year mandate to lead Serbia into the EU.
In the largely unchanged government, Ana Brnabic, ex-manager
of Serbia's subsidiary of an international wind park developer,
was a new appointment, named minister for state administration.
Brnabic is openly gay, which is very rare in conservative
Balkan society, and her appointment was hailed by Serbia's Gay
Straight Alliance as a "historic decision".
($1 = 0.9021 euros)
(Reporting by Ivana Sekularac and Ingrid Melander; Editing by