Bad privatizations "destroyed Serbian industry"

BELGRADE -- Proceedings launched in 24 cases of controversial privatizations are "the right way to put right the injustice done by the 2001 Law on Privatization."

This is according to professor Ljubodrag Savić of the Belgrade Faculty of Economics, who at the same time warned that "efforts in this matter should not end there."

The implementation of the law inflicted severe damage on both the economy and citizens of Serbia as Serbia's industry was practically destroyed, a part of the citizens grew poor and many of them lost their jobs, Savić told Tanjug, following the publication of results of investigation in 24 cases of controversial privatizations,

Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and head of the Security Service Coordination Bureau Aleksandar Vučić told a news conference on Saturday that the Bureau "has done its share of work and that it is now up to prosecutors and judges to do their duty and conduct prosecution in the company privatization cases."

Savić underscored that the damages caused by 24 privatizations are probably several times higher than the sum of around EUR 80 million established in the investigation and that if the figure remains at that, it would mean that abuse is very hard to prove.

“It seems that some of key actors involved in the privatization process have disappeared after becoming very rich because they negotiated, agreed on and directed the process,” he said.

Savić underscored that he is aware of the fact that a lot of time has passed since most of the controversial privatizations and that it was "very hard to prove abuse," but noted that it was "positive that considerable progress has been made in some of the procedures on the cases."

“The message is that the government must not stop there and has to invest greater energy in tackling the evil of corruption. It will be an important piece of news if some individuals are sentenced but we will not make substantial progress unless more people are covered in the proceedings,” he said.

Around 1.1 million people were employed in the industry sector in 1990, in 2000 this number totaled 750,000, and today it adds up to as few as 275,000, and this is the result of some other factors, primarily the detrimental implementation of the Law on Privatization, Savić said.