The Socialist-led ruling coalition took power last month and called for immediate talks with the IMF, which froze a €1-billion standby deal in February over the country's rising public debt and budget deficit.
The IMF's resident representative, Bogdan Lissovolik, said a short fact-finding mission was tentatively scheduled for mid-September to assess Serbia's latest macroeconomic outlook.
The mission would not negotiate a new loan deal, he said, but instead discuss a move by the new government to step up parliamentary control over the National Bank of Serbia (NBS), culminating in the replacement of the bank governor by a senior lawmaker from the ruling coalition.
"The mission will ... discuss the IMF's concerns about the recent changes to the NBS law that undermined its autonomy and about the fiscal situation," Lissovolik said. "It will not engage in program discussions."
The battle for control over monetary policy in the ex-Yugoslav republic has drawn fire from the IMF, the World Bank and the European Union, which made Serbia an official candidate for membership in March.
With Serbia's economy in recession, the row has also unnerved financial markets already jittery over a budget deficit of 7.1% of output and public debt of almost 55%, far higher than the IMF has in the past recommended for similar emerging economies.
The government is an alliance of mainly socialists and nationalists who last held power together under late strongman Slobodan Milošević, when Serbia was mired in war and hyperinflation.
It has given no sign of rowing back in the bank saga, deepening concern among Western diplomats about its commitment to the difficult economic and political reforms it must pursue if Belgrade is to make progress towards EU membership.
"This is a dangerous message," Djordje Djukić, an economics lecturer at the University of Belgrade, said of the IMF statement. "Every delay of a firm stand-by deal will impact Serbia's borrowing on financial markets."
Vladimir Vukcević, a member of Serbia's advisory Fiscal Council, said the IMF would likely tolerate the rise in the budget deficit due to weak industrial activity, but warned: "What it will not tolerate is inflated public spending, while the central bank law will also be a matter of tough scrutiny."
Finance Minister Mladjan Dinkić, leader of a small, technocrat party in the coalition, is expected to propose a revision of the 2012 budget by the end of next week, and has pledged next year to cut the deficit to 4%.
But he faces resistance from some members of the coalition to any tough measures aimed at pegging back pensions and public sector wages, which swallow the lion's share of spending.