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Božidar Đelić ( ), (born April 1, 1965 in Belgrademarker, Yugoslavia, now Serbiamarker) is a Serbianmarker economist and politician. He was the Serbian Minister of finance in the first post-Milošević government of Zoran Đinđić in 2001-2003, and vice-president of the government since May 2007, from the list of Democratic Party.


Early life and education

Đelić was born in Belgrade in 1965, as the only child. His parents divorced soon after his birth and went abroad in search of better prospects, while Božidar stayed behind in Belgrade where he was raised by his maternal grandparents. Đelić later described his grandmother Mileva as the strongest figure in his childhood. When his grandparents died in 1973, he moved to Paris to live with his mother and stepfather in Paris. When her small business collapsed, the family got into difficult financial situation, and Božidar had to help his practically bankrupt family. He earned for his living by washing dishes and cleaning windows, while studying in parallel. In 1980 and 1981, he won French national competitions for high-school students in history and economics.

He entered the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Parismarker and later Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commercialesmarker in Paris where he graduated as a top student. In 1987 he received a double master's degree in economics at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Socialesmarker. He eventually moved to the United Statesmarker, where he completed an Master of Business Administration at the Harvard Business Schoolmarker, as well as a Master of Public Administration, specializing in macroeconomics and international relations, at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. His mentors were Alain Gomez, the chairman of Thomson SA, who taught him how to be a manager, and the economist Jeffrey Sachs, who took him along from Harvard to Warsaw and Moscow.


Đelić continued to work as an expert advisor for several East European transition governments on the issues of privatization, banking reform and macroeconomic reform : 1991-1992 in Polandmarker as an advisor to Leszek Balcerowicz (where he also assisted the establishment of the Warsaw Stock Exchange), 1992-1993 in Russiamarker as an advisor to Anatoly Chubais, and 1996 in Romaniamarker.

In 1999, he become a partner in McKinsey & Company, a leading consulting firm.

2000: return to Serbia

Božidar Đelić speaking at the World Economic Forum on Europe and Central Asia in Istanbul, 30 October - 1 November 2008
After the 5th October Overthrow of Slobodan Milošević, his personal friend and leader of the expert group G17 Plus Miroljub Labus invited him to help reviving country's devastated economy. On 13 November 2000, Đelić took an unpaid leave from McKinsey and arrived to Belgrade. He served as the main negotiator with IMFmarker, Paris Club and other financial institutions. After the parliamentary elections, in January 2001 he became the Minister of Finance. He got acquainted with Mlađan Dinkić, who held the position of the governor of the National Bank with whom he worked closely to clean up public finances and banking sector, stabilize the national currency, reduce budget deficit and level up the national economy. In just the first year, he managed to reduce the projected budget deficit from 4.5% to only 1.5%; in Serbian public, he got the joking nickname 'Boža Derikoža' (Boža the skinflint). However, he was actually very popular in public: he was declared "person of the year" in 2001 by Vreme , placed first on the Blic's ranking list of politicians in December 2002, and included into the top 100 young leaders list of World Economic Forum and Forbes magazine in 2002.

A huge amount of job on reviving the country's ruined economy and bringing the chaotic finances and tax system into legal waters required an extreme effort: Đelić and his associates often worked to early morning hours. In November 2001, he led the negotiations with Paris Club, resulting in 66% cut of the Serbia's debt.. Three rounds of negotiations with the London Club he led were more difficult, though: they would reach the ultimate success only in July 2004, during the mandate of Mlađan Dinkić, his successor on the post of the Minister of Finances His team introduced fiscal cash registers at 200,000 points of sale, significantly reducing the tax evasion. Thorough fiscal reform of the country required preparation of over 50 new laws, including essential ones on budget, labor, customs, tax and public procurrement. He advocated aggressive privatization, and personally presided over privatization of Serbian tobacco factories by foreign multinationals BAT and Philip Morris. Numerous tough negotiations with trade unions and lobby groups often caused him to be seen with circles under the eyes. Đelić's team was also preparing the introduction of VAT, to replace the previous sales tax, ultimately introduced upon his leaving of the office, on 1 January 2005.

In late 2002, the rift between the Vojislav Koštunica's Democratic Party of Serbia and the remainder of ruling DOS, led by Zoran Đinđić deepened, and the deteriorating political climate culminated in Zoran Đinđić assassination on March 12, 2003, after which a state of emergency was introduced, and Zoran Živković took over the post of the Prime Minister.The pressure on the job didn't help Đelić's personal life, either: he divorced from his wife Marie-Laure, who left Serbia and lives in Paris with their daughters Milena and Alma.

After the fall of Živković's government on 2003 elections, Đelić withdrew for the politics. In May 2005, he became the manager for Southeastern Europe of the largest European bank Crédit Agricole, which purchased 71% of shares of Meridian banka.

2006: return to politics

In late 2006, as the 2007 elections approached, Đelić returned into politics and became active on the Democratic Party's campaign. After it won 25.6% seats in the parliament, the party put him forward as their candidate for the prime minister. However, as difficult negotiations with supposed coalition partners Democratic Party of Serbia and G17+ progressed, it became clear that it was not to be, as the incumbent prime minister Vojislav Koštunica demanded to keep the seat. Finally, only 4 days before the expiration of Constitutional deadline for formation of the government, the president Boris Tadić and Koštunica reached an agreement whereby the Koštunica would keep the post, and the Democratic Party would take the absolute majorityof ministers in the government. Đelić took the post of the only deputy prime minister of the government, in charge of the integration with the European Union.


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