Fake therapy

By Miša Brkić

 „The Serbian transitional agony continues. Indefinitely.

The transformation of the economy, the state and society will never end. Our “case” serves as an example of “stop-go” reforms, the so-called involuntary transition. None of the ex-communist countries, like Serbia, was so obsessed with the fundamental change of the old failed system.

The politicians in power are responsible for this torture. Of course, they always (even in the latest case) hide behind the “wishes of the listeners”, i.e. the people who are constantly afraid and don’t want change, but rather a return to the previous state of hibernation. “He who does not move forward is doomed to die”, is the warning issued by the former president of the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences and distinguished professor of the Faculty of Medicine, Vladimir Kostić, who compared Serbia’s transitional standstill to a serious neurological condition.

The “honour” of announcing the continuation of the agony went to the Prime Minister. Regarding the Government’s decision to withdraw from Parliament the Law on the Management of State-Owned Enterprises, the PM said: “There is no question of selling publicly-owned enterprises. This is all misinformation and untruths.”

Why did the president decide on that move? “There has been a lot of misinformation about this law… It is important that we be responsible and respond to citizens’ fears,” the Prime Minister recited, announcing new public consultations on that law. So, we are again seeing a story about transitional fears that politicians are treating in the wrong way. And the more they treat them, the sicker Serbian society and economy get. And this thing with “consultations” sounds familiar – when we are not going to solve the problem, we form a commission, that is, we hold „consultations“.

The SNS-led regime once again demonstrated its intention to continue managing the hibernating statist model and not to think about systemic economic reforms that have been suggested by international partners for ten years – from the World Bank to the EU.

The president decided that there will be no privatization of public companies and asked citizens not to be afraid. At the same time, such a decision means that the government will not continue the long-lost but necessary systemic reforms. By the way, the reforms were already stopped when the ruler of Serbia fired the finance minister Dušan Vujović and left the management of the semi-reformed economic system to the duo consisting of the prime minister and the finance minister. The vision of a modern society and economy was abandoned and switched to operational management for the sake of preserving power. The economy is managed by political eggheads, skilled matchmakers and petty calculators. Since 2015, the only goal of the regime has been to preserve power and “cure the fears” of the people, but not to create a democratic European state and a market economy.

The current situation in public (and state-owned) enterprises is a picture of a powerless, tired, scared, incompetent and compromise-prone SNS regime. EPS, Air Srbija, Ski Resorts of Serbia, Srbijašume, Putevi Srbije (Roads of Serbia), Srbijagas, Resavica, Javna Skloništa (Public Shelters) – all these public companies are no longer a valuable national resource, but a devastated property and burnt capital managed for years by irresponsible and uneducated acting directors. State-run enterprises are a strongly defended bastion of the old, failed system of state socialism. The “defence and last days” of those companies are being extended indefinitely at the cost of the collapse of state finances and the impoverishment of citizens. We are witnessing an unprecedented looting of the economic sector of the country from which the regime is siphoning capital into private and political party accounts. Too many members of the ruling party easily and for a long time have latched themselves onto the income of state enterprises.

These companies are a stone around the neck of all taxpayers – citizens and businesspeople. The thesis that electricity is cheap in Serbia because EPS is a state-owned enterprise and should remain so for life is wrong. Only incorrigible leftists still believe in that, as they fail to calculate the price of electricity which would contain losses accumulated by the Electric Power Industry of Serbia (EPS) and covered by taxpayers. The same is true when the government takes loans to cover the losses of Srbijagas. This burden, in the end, is transferred to taxpayers who are financing payment of loans. The government’s mismanagement of these businesses has a direct effect on reducing the wealth of each individual. Citizens and business people would have more money to spend and invest if they did not have to finance the state’s desperate management of public enterprises.

The way the paranoid regime „treats fears“ is just ordinary economic quackery for the sake of collecting political points and the crowning proof of the politicians’ lack of courage to bring the transition and modernization of Serbia to an end. Only political weaklings and incompetent populists are afraid of systemic reforms that would regulate the state and the economy, so they hide behind the phrase about “people’s fears”.

I am inclined to believe that it is not just about treating people’s fears. The government despises the people and this could be just another show for the public. It is possible that a much deeper and more dangerous motive is hidden under this pulling wool over people’s eyes by „showing concern for them“ – it is actually the effort of the political elite to preserve complete control over the state and thus prolong the life of an anachronistic system whose best-before date has long since expired and in which only the government profits.

The president continues to lubricate this faith in the government’s saving power, cunningly designed during the pandemic, by continuing to bribe citizens (small children, mothers, pensioners, medical staff, teachers), convinced that this is the best medicine for the people’s fears and the neurological problem of Serbia.”

(Danas, 12.06.2023)


This post is also available in: Italiano

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