The Serbian government has paid 40 million more dinars to the Serbian Orthodox Church than the Church was due to receive from the sale of postal stamps which proceeds will be used for the repair of the St. Sava Church. Why?
Church economists and analysts have interpreted the state’s decision to pay the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) an additional 40 million dinars from the budget reserves differently. It was discovered that instead of 76 million dinars, which is the total amount collected from the sale of stamps, the Serbian government paid 116 million dinars.
“It is not clear and transparent why more money was paid,” says Nemanja Nenadic of Transparency Serbia.
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“The Church should have gotten less because when the stamps were sold, the post office had to take their cut on the account of distribution costs,” Nenadic adds.
This is at least the sixth unplanned financial disbursement from the state to the Church since the beginning of the year. The money is paid from the state fund that the government disposes of independently and without public control.
The BBC has tried to investigate how much extra money Serbia is donating to the Church, in addition to the amount prescribed by the law. As it happens, the funds are mostly paid in a non-transparent way and this time around, the government transferred more money to the Church than it had been actually generated from the sale of stamps.
When the BBC approached the Serbian government, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Justice, Directorate of Cooperation with Churches and Religious Communities, the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Office overseeing the reconstruction of the St Sava Church, none of them replied to the BBC’s questions.
Since 14th October, postal stamps bearing the image of Saint Sava have been sold at post offices throughout Serbia. 7.6 million copies have been printed and each stamp cost ten dinars.
The proceeds from the sale are planned to go to the Serbian Orthodox Church “to finance construction and interior design work” on the church.
However, the Serbian government recently decided to pay almost 350,000 euro more to the SPC from the budget reserves. When Zarko Bogosavljevic, a journalist from 021.rs, saw the document stating this published in the Republic of Serbia’s Official Gazette, he was suspicious: “The stamp costs ten dinars and if 7.6 million of them were sold, it is not difficult to calculate the revenue – 76 million dinars,” Bogosavljevic told the BBC (in Serbian language).
“That’s why it’s not clear to me why they paid 116 million dinars, almost 350,000 euro more than they should,” says Bogosavljevic who constantly monitors state payments to the Church, and argues that the government “pays extra money to the Church every few months”.
(BBC, Naslovi.net, 07.11.2019)
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