Serbia’s New Leaders Carve Up Company Spoils

As Serbia’s new ministers are due to be sworn in on Friday, key parties have started the distribution of state-owned companies, breaking promises to end the party politicisation of public enterprises.Talks on the distribution of plum posts in public enterprises have started in Serbia, following the conclusion of a coalition deal between the Progressives, the Socialists and the United Regions of Serbia.According to the initial plan, the Socialists and the United Regions of Serbia are to keep the key positions in public enterprises that they held in the previous government while the Progressives will take those formerly held by the ousted Democrats.

Zoran Drobnjak of the Socialists will remain director of Serbia’s state-owned road company, Putevi Srbije.

Milan Krkobabic of the Pensioner’s party, part of the Socialist-led coalition, has requested to take the post office. Ivica Toncev, advisor to Prime Minister-designate Ivica Dacic of the Socialists, is to run the customs office.

The state-owned Komercijalna banka will be managed by Ivica Smolic of the United Regions of Serbia.

The Progressives’ Drasko Petrovic is due to be appointed director of Telekom Srbija, replacing the Democrat, Branko Radujko.

The distribution of key posts in public enterprises comes after Serbia’s new leaders announced the names of the country’s new ministers, and after they had pledged to carry out the party de-politicisation process.One of the key points in the July coalition agreement on forming a new government was that due qualifications, instead of party membership cards, will be the entry card to work in public enterprises over the next four years.

Zoran Stojiljkovic, political science professor, said the parties were continuing to ruin public enterprises by using them as sources of patronage.

“First they appoint their man as director, and then they get him to hire party members, who end up representing 10 to 15 per cent of the total work force,” the professor explained.

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