The coronavirus pandemic has caused changes at all levels. The ability to adapt has always been a measure of survival, which is why common action is needed to mitigate the impact of the crisis and restore the overall economic activity in the country.

This is one of the massages from the panel discussion “Coronavirus and business – adapting to the new normal” organized within the “Top 100 in Montenegro 2021” project, initiated by BI Consulting, under the general sponsorship of NLB Bank Podgorica and with the support of the Montenegrin Chamber of Economy.

Mr Ratko Nikolić, the founder of BI Consulting, which is a business information provider, has said that adapting to the new normal in the pandemic is a phenomenon of today, which includes a wide range of changes at all levels happening practically on the fly and incredibly quickly.

“Just like lifestyle adaptations at the individual level to preserve personal health, at the company level we have the process of adapting products, services, communication channels, internal and external policies to the new reality, and at the national level we have the review of the economic system and optimal economic structure. The ability to adapt has always been a measure of survival, and it seems that this has never been more obvious and clearer than it is today,” Mr Nikolić has said.

Ms Renata Milutinović, acting director of the Directorate for Industrial and Regional Development in the Ministry of Economic Development, has said that everyone should take responsibility for complying with the measures and thus contribute to the preservation of citizens’ health, as well as to the recovery of overall economic activity in the country.

“Considering that the Montenegrin economy largely depends on tourism and that a lot is expected from this season, we need to work together to provide an adequate response to the pandemic, but also to create a sort of safe zone that the tourists will be happy to visit without any fear”, Ms Milutinović has pointed out.

Ms Nina Drakić, the vice president of the Chamber of Economy of Montenegro, has said that the Chamber of Economy has continuously brought up the challenges, that the business community faces, to the decision makers.

“In cooperation with state authorities, we are trying to identify optimal solutions, in order to maintain liquidity and mitigate the impact of the crisis. The primary goal is to suppress the covid-19 pandemic and reduce the consequences for citizens’ health, but also to maintain economic activity as a precondition for accelerated economic growth once the pandemic ends,” Ms Drakić has said.

Mr Dino Redžepagić, the executive director of NLB Banka, has said that the process of digitalization of products and services has continued during the pandemic and that it is the task of the entire society to further promote digitalization, because it not only reduces costs for users of digital channels, but also enhances sustainability and environmental protection due to reduced use of all resources.

“But this is not just a technical task, this also requires a paradigm shift for all of us. I believe that at least half of the visits by clients to their bank branches are not necessary, if we all use the digital solutions already available everywhere. So, our task is not only digitalization, but also to explain and instruct citizens to use ATMs, payment cards, mobile banking, computers, and smartphones. We hope that the crisis will not last, but we are ready for any scenario”, Mr Redžepagić has said.

Mr Dragan Bokan, chairman of the Board of Directors, Voli Trade, has said that Voli has felt a drastic increase of the Montenegrin economy illiquidity.

“That is our biggest fear and what we are also afraid of is what it will lead to in the fall, winter or next spring, which will be crucial for the survival of the Montenegrin economy. Voli has stopped all investments in 2021. The current situation in the Montenegrin economy, with no ideas or strategies, is highly concerning. It is crucial for us in Voli to retain our staff and try not to cut our salaries,” Mr Bokan has said.

He believes that the communication between the Government and line ministries with business people is of key importance to identify a strategy how to mitigate problems in the Montenegrin economy.