Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic described the arrival of the German investor, Continental to Serbia and the opening of a research and development centre as “a top league of investment.” However, as of recently several local IT companies, members of the Vojvodina ICT Cluster, have been objecting to Continental receiving state subsidies up to 19,000 EUR per new job they create.
They say that that is tantamount to being “stabbed in the back” by your own state as in effect, the subsidy will be used towards financing the brain drain in the country from the taxpayers pocket since the German company has no plans of keeping the generated profits in the country.
Sasa Cioringa, General Manager of Continental Serbia, did confirm that the company would receive 19,000 euros per new job in state subsidies. “We need this to cover the costs of the first months of training and work until our new engineers become fully productive”, Cioringa adds.
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Responding to the claims from the Vojvodina ICT Cluster claims that subsidies have nothing to do with creating new jobs since Continental would just transfer the workers from the company’s other offices, Cioringa says that it is very difficult to find highly qualified engineers on the market.
“Our plan is to employ university graduates, or to re-train IT staff that worked in other fields, not automotive or IT industries. These are hardware engineers, mechanical engineers and test engineers. Of the 500 jobs we plan to create, 40% will be in the field of embedded software engineering. We have already hired 100 people and very few of them came from the IT industry”, Cioringa adds.
A member of the Vojvodina ICT Cluster, Nenad Milanovic, the owner of the IT company Coing from Novi Sad, claims that Continental’s management in Serbia is operating unlawfully and is violating Serbian laws in terms of using state subsidies.
Milanovic has approached the Department for Reporting on Suspected Corruption Cases with his concerns. He also informed the company’s top management in Hannover, Germany of the Government of Serbia’s intention to provide Continental Serbia with a state subsidy in the amount of 9.5 million EUR, a move that directly undermines domestic IT companies and goes against fair competition regulation that is in force in the European Union and in Serbia.
“I contacted directly the management of Continental Automotive because they need to know that their local company is about to violate the laws of the country in which it operates. I expect their reaction soon”, says Nenad Milanovic. The Vojvodina ICT Cluster will also officially contact Continental Automotive in Germany and notify them of the illegal operations of their company in Serbia.
(Politika, Kamatica, 27.03.2018)