Some of the most renowned Belgrade landmarks have been sold or are likely to be sold – the Beogradjanka building has been sold while the Sava Center, although being put up for sale a couple of times, does not yet have a new owner. The Belgrade authorities hope that the new price of 21.9 million euro will appeal to investors and that Sava Center will be sold.
Along with the these two, there is another symbol of Belgrade, which had already been put up for sale more than a decade ago but is state-owned to this date – the Belgrade Fair.
On 10 September, the building of the Belgrade Fair was illuminated in red light to draw attention to the fact that the entire trade fair sector has earned zero dinars from March to today, due to the pandemic. In addition, the Belgrade Fair’s main hall served as a temporary COVID hospital during the state of emergency.
“To draw attention to this problem, the Belgrade Fair lit its largest pavilion in red due to the fact that since spring, there have been no trade fairs here because of the decisions made by the government’s Crisis Unit. For us, as trade fair organizers, this means a zero income from March to today. The city of Belgrade and the Republic of Serbia will be left without income of 14.4 billion dinars generated from the sale of goods and services at the Fair, while thousands of employees in this sector will lose their jobs. This situation is unbearable for us and for the entire sector “, reads the official announcement on the Belgrade Fair website.
The warning, called “Red Alert for the Exhibition Industry”, was part of the global #RedAlertRestart campaign, launched with the aim of signalling the difficulties of the events industry to the global public.
However, the coronavirus is not the only problem that the Fair has been facing.
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Although the 2006 Constitution provides for the transformation of corporate ownership into private and the Privatization Law provides for the mandatory privatization of the share capital by 31 December 2015 at the latest, the Belgrade Fair is still a state-owned enterprise. It is still not definitely determined which of the Fair’s funds are considered state funds and which are not.
The 2015 ruling established that 26.48% of these funds are state-owned after the Commercial Court rejected the request of the Republic of Serbia to also declare the remaining 73.52% as state-owned assets. The court ruling is not final though.
On the day of the expiry of the deadline for mandatory privatization, the law was in fact modified by introducing a provision according to which privatization is not carried out on companies in which a process of determining the share of state ownership has been initiated.
(Biznis i Finansije, 29.09.2020)
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