Public assets: State loses billions because it doesn’t know what it owns

The deadline for registration of public assets used by municipalities, towns and public enterprises, which is supposed to expire this year, will be extended by 2020. This is a sixth consecutive extension.

The amendments to the Law on Public Assets, which regulates this area, is being debated by the Serbian MPs and it stipulates penalties for public bodies that have failed to report that they have been using state resources. The Serbian state assets are also supposed to be consolidated in an electronic database which will be made public.

The state Property Directorate already has a database that has only 135,000 entries (immovable assets)  which is not realistic at all – says the Restitution Network. On the other side, the State Geodetic Authority, which is also in charge of registering public immovable assets, has a database with almost 25 million entries.

For instance, in 2006, the State Land Registry listed 2.5 million hectares of forests with 1.3 million hectares belonging to the state. Let’s not even go into state-owned agricultural land, business premises and construction land.

“The state owns between 15% and 20% of these 25 million pieces of registered real estate, i.e. at least 5 million. And the state authorities only have records of 135,000! Seven hundred public enterprises, most municipalities and towns, and the Agricultural Land Directorate share the same irresponsible attitude towards state assets”, says Mile Antic from the Restitution Network.

The Land Directorate has failed to record over 700,000 hectares of state-owned arable land. The same, dire situation can be found in the records pertaining to building plots. Although, for years, these plots have been left unregistered, they are traded with.

“The Law on Public Assets stipulates that beneficiaries of the state property are allowed to sell this property without any compensation or restrictions, unlike ordinary citizens”, says Bogdan Veljkovic, president of the Association of Citizens for the Restitution of Seized Property which operates under the Restitution Network.

(Vecernje Novosti, 10.12.2017)





This post is also available in: Italiano

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