The state of Serbia allocated 3.9 billion dinars (or almost 33 million euro) from the last year’s state budget for the purchase of land and real estate in order to be able to realize the Belgrade Waterfront project – the NIN weekly reports.
“What has only been suspected so far, i.e. that the state purchased private companies with taxpayers’ money and then gave away these companies’ immovable assets to third persons without any compensation in order to expand the Belgrade Waterfront project, has been confirmed in a letter that was sent to NIN by the Secretariat for Property and Legal Affairs of the City of Belgrade”, writes the weekly.
As stated above, this Secretariat confirmed this only after NIN requested to exercise its right to obtain information under the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance.
NIN writes that, in November last year, it learned from several independent sources that the government paid 1.9 billion dinars (or 16.25 million euro) from the state budget on the account of expropriation of immovable assets owned by the Eurosalon Company (located in 12, Vojvoda Misic Boulevard, right next to the premises of the Belgrade Fair).
“Only a few days later, the state gave the property free of charge to foreign company, Eagle Hills from the United Arab Emirates, which owns 68% of the company’s share. The remaining 32% company share belongs to the Serbian government. However, this share has not increased despite the Serbian government giving the other company ownership over the said property”, NIN writes.
The article goes on to say that the expropriation money was paid by the Ministry of Finance from the state budget which explained that the money was spent on “realization of infrastructure projects that are of great importance to the Republic of Serbia, i.e. the expropriation of land for the purpose of building capital projects”.
Considering that the last year’s budget allocations for land expropriation for all capital projects in the whole country stood at 12.09 billion dinars, this means that the Belgrade Waterfront project was more important than the rest of the state-funded projects, including the construction of the road corridors 10 and 11 and the Belgrade-Budapest fast railroad – said NIN.
The question was whether the MPs and ruling and opposition parties knew this at all when they discussed the Law on the Budget for 2018, i.e. whether they knew that “The Programme 0702 – Realization of Infrastructure Projects of Importance for the Republic of Serbia and” Project 5001-Expropriation of Land for the Purpose of Building Capital Projects”, actually meant that a third of the budget funds will be spent on the purchase of land that will be given to the majority owner of the company that is building the Belgrade Waterfront.
NIN also states that on August 3rd, 2018, the State Attorney’s Office requested the City Secretariat for Property and Legal Affairs to issue a decision on the expropriation of a 5,800-square-metre business building in 12, Vojvoda Misic Boulevard that was housing the Home Plus furniture store, its three ancillary buildings of which one was built without permission, a land plot spanning 49 acres and another building.
At that time, according to NIN, the property’s owner was Eurosalon Real Estate, which was founded by Branislav and Ljubica Stojakovic.
“Several months earlier, in February last year, when the Ministry of Finance provided money for the purchase of property and land, Eurosalon was not the owner of this property, but it had only the right to use it because apparently it was owned by the Serbian government,” NIN writes.
“Prior to literary donating Eurosalon’s property, the state had also given or promised to give, for the purpose of implementing the Belgrade Waterfront project, the land on which Milan Vapa- Jugošped Paper Factory, the main railway station, the Simpo store, the Post Office in Savska Street, the Geozavod building, the Bristol Hotel and 16 facilities in Savamala are located,” says NIN.
The English version of the only valid joint investment agreement states that the Belgrade Waterfront project will be assigned the management of 23 buildings spanning the total area of about 30,000 square meters, that Serbia promised to build the project infrastructure at its expense and that it undertakes to relocate the central bus station and the old Sava Bridge.
This post is also available in: Italiano