The Belgrade public transport company, GSP, seems to be drowning in debt which will have reached a record 6 billion dinars by the year-end.
In October alone, it owed suppliers 4.84 billion dinars, including two billion dinars to the Petroleum Industry of Serbia (NIS) for fuel. After the budget review, the Belgrade authorities tried to patch up the financial holes in the company with subsidies, but regardless the company is continuing to sink.
Nikola Jovanović from the Local Self-Government Centre (Centar za Lokalnu Samoupravu) has estimated that GSP’s financial troubles are jeopardizing the entire Belgrade economy.
“The catastrophic state that GSP finds itself in not only endangers public transport in Belgrade but also drags the economy of Belgrade down because a large number of private companies depend GSP paying its liabilities on time,” he said. Experts warn that the problem with GSP did not happen overnight but should be dealt with urgently because Belgrade needs orderly public transport.
Marina Lipovac Tanaskovic, a transport expert in Vladeta Jankovic’s team, points out that GSP has been deteriorating for years and that the latest figures are just the result of a long period of the company implementing inadequate policies. “There is not only one problem in this company but several factors are intertwined. In our country, public transport companies in urban areas cannot be profitable, as is the case in other countries. Also, the vehicles used for public transport here are old and uncomfortable and not much has been invested in them. Furthermore, there is a bad contract with Busplus, which stipulates that the rented ticket equipment used in GSP buses will not belong to GSP once the contract expires,” she warns.
Nebojsa Mitrovic of the GSP Drivers’ Trade Union notes that the salaries of GSP workers are quite low and that despite the solidarity aid from last year being paid only recently, that did not solve the key problem – GSP employees are working long hours for very little pay.
“Our salaries are not enough to survive on. We are working a lot for little money, and nothing has changed from the last time we requested better pay,” Mitrovic warns.
Photo credits: Goran Srdanov/Nova.rs
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