Serbia and the World Bank's International Finance Corporation agreed a programme on Monday to improve bankruptcy legislation and out of court settlements, in order to bring down the high level of non-performing loans, Reuters reported. Bad loans account for 23 percent of all lending in Serbia, a European Union candidate country where foreign banks control 75 percent of the market. So far, four Serbian banks have collapsed under the weight of bad loans, at a cost of 800 million euros to the state. On Monday, Economy Minister Zeljko Sertic, Justice Minister Nikola Selakovic and the head of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Marko Cadez, signed a memorandum to implement a three-year programme that would aim to improve the resolution of non-performing loans (NPL) and boost lending. Thomas Lubeck, the IFC's regional manager for the Western Balkans, was also one of the signatories of the memorandum. The IFC, the World Bank's private-sector investment arm, will provide training for judges and expertise in drafting legislation, among other things. Sertic said the programme should help improve bankruptcy laws and speed up the bankruptcy procedure, as well as amend current legislation on financial restructuring of companies, which would enable problematic debts to be settled out of court without launching a bankruptcy procedure. Read more.