As of this month, the story of “friends from Norway” who should help Serbia turn around its systematically destroyed energy sector is again current. This time, friends, who actually make up a consulting firm “Ristad Energy”, whose services the Government of Serbia pays a few million euros for, after an in-depth analysis presented a proposal that justifies every dinar of their fee: The management of three out of four large energy companies should be changed.
How did we not think of that? That is why they are a successful Norway, and we are an unsuccessful Serbia. Now that we have changed three of the four directors, everything should go well for us, they just have to appoint those directors for us.
Joking aside, that’s why they are successful Norway, and we are unsuccessful Serbia. Not because we do not know that qualified people should freely manage public companies, but because Norway actually puts such people in management positions where their freedom of decision is taken for granted, while in Serbia this is not done intentionally. And it will not be done any further.
The proof of this is already in the statement of the president of the state, who pointed out to us the extraordinary insight that his paid friends from Rystad presented to him: “directors in three of the four large energy companies”. Why such a statement? Which three out of which four? If the Government of Serbia really had the goal of introducing “professional management”, the president would clearly say that in this, this and this company, the general directors will be replaced. Instead, a new game of musical chairs is being set up, in which now the heads of public companies are competing behind the scenes to show greater loyalty and pay the heavier purse so that when the music stops, the only available chair will have their name written on it.
But of course it’s not the only chair. Because, not that the president didn’t tell us which three directors would be replaced, he didn’t even tell us which four companies were in question. Thus, he left himself room to combine as he pleased, and instead of EPS, EMS, EDB and Srbijagas, declare as a large company, for example, Belgrade Electric Power Station, where the director’s position is vacant anyway, or any company from one of these really big ones. If we ever hear what those three are.
Of course, the fact that the state shows again and again that it has no intention of approaching the corporatization of public companies and transferring the power of making key business decisions from itself to the directors of those companies does not mean that it should not be done.
The very existence of the otherwise meaningless coin “professional management” reveals to us a valid approach to the disposal of public resources in Serbia – amateur management is consciously established here. By stating that a professional management should be appointed, the government directly admits that until now it has appointed people in public companies whom it knew were not capable of managing them.
Why did she appoint such people? What prevents the Government of Serbia from appointing proven managers of international renown to the head of state-owned companies, such as are necessary for systems such as EPS, and leaving them to deal with their work? Nothing. You don’t need any consultants for that. For that, you need to permanently take away the power you have today: To be the ones who make decisions, dispose of money and use public companies as an instrument of political influence.
Well, we are a country that replaced one Muslin with Krstajić before the World Cup, and we wonder why we put henchmen in public companies instead of professionals.
That’s exactly why we won’t get that “three out of four” even now. That’s why no consultants, no matter how good they are, can’t help us, because we don’t want their help.
The first time when an EPS director thought that he was really a director and that he really had the mandate to make decisions about the company he formally headed, and tried to implement corporatization that would systematically reduce political influence in the management of the company, the Government of Serbia she changed. It was Aleksandar Obradović, who came from the Czech ČEZ, and was officially expelled from EPS because he bought two Audis. It was a convenient explanation about the wasteful director, who was later replaced by Grcic, aka Mića, who, instead of audio, seems to have bought listening devices, collected reliable votes for the party, and finally produced the biggest energy crisis in the history of Serbia, managing to break down in the middle of winter the largest thermal power plant in the country. He was not replaced.
“Mica” was not replaced then. It was necessary for the Russian-Ukrainian war to break out, for us to be threatened with electricity restrictions, for state finances to become threatened, and for capital investment projects to be stopped, and for electricity to become more expensive, here it is already 24 percent for citizens, and twice as much for the economy, so that Grcic should be transferred to another public function where he can destroy less and grab less.
The minister who unsuccessfully sought his removal for years was then replaced herself, and we are waiting to see if the new EPS management, at least technically professional, will be among the three who will lose their positions, Talas writes.