Serbian State to Quit Managing Public Firms

Ruling coalition has proposed changes to the law on public companies, obliging the state to withdraw from day-to-day management of public enterprises.Mladjan Dinkic, Finance Minister, told parliament on Tuesday that amendments to the Public Companies Law envisage the state withdrawing from company management roles.

“The professionalization of management in public companies and tenders to select directors are being introduced and management boards are being abolished,” Dinkic noted.So far, the state has appointed directors and managing boards of public enterprises. State-owned companies that turn a profit, or which obtain large funds from the budget, have long been considered “prizes” for the ruling parties following elections.

Governments have routinely filled boards with party loyalists or funders as part of a well organised patronage or rewards system.

Serbia’s biggest public enterprizes include Telekom Srbija, the power utility EPS, the gas company Srbijagas and the construction company, Putevi Srbije.

Under the changes, the directors of public companies will no longer be party officials. Instead, Dinkic said that tenders to select directors will be conducted by a special body, and the relevant minister, provincial secretary or municipal president will only be able to select managers from at least three candidates.

“Another novelty is transparency in the work of public companies,” the minister said, adding that companies will have to publish financial reports and plans on the web on a quarterly basis. All tenders will have to have be published on the companies’ websites.

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