Is Electric Power Industry of Serbia at a turning point? The issue opened to the public after news that EPS could become a joint-stock company in the second half of the year, potentially a prelude to the sale of that public company. Although the International Monetary Fund has repeatedly emphasized that solving the problem of EPS is necessary for the long-term recovery of the Serbian economy, the allegations of the sale of EPS have neither been confirmed nor denied in Nemanjina 11.
One of the biggest problems for the Serbian economy is the three letters – EPS. A public company with reforms on hold and with appeal from both foreign and domestic experts that “Elektroprivreda Srbije” needs an urgent turnaround in business in order for that company not to drag the Serbian economy further down.
Some changes, however, came to the fore. The public raised the question that since October 2020 it could become a joint-stock company. And in the future to sell EPS.
“First, EPS from a public company will be transformed into a joint stock company. Part of the shares will be distributed free of charge to employees and citizens of Serbia, and other shares will be offered for sale to a buyer from abroad when the time is right for EPS sales to come in stages because the business is already split into several smaller chapters”, quoted daily Danas on February 14th.
For the International Monetary Fund, EPS is always on the list of publicly traded companies where reforms are carried out too slowly. The IMF recommended that Serbia change its EPS status by the end of 2020. The Fiscal Council, on the other hand, says it is necessary to make more decisive moves, make savings within the company and establish a business model that will make EPS profitable.
“Our analysis shows that it is possible for EPS to move from some 20 million profits a year to a path that is about 200 million euros in profit – a big change, but it is possible if some steps are taken, and with that it is quite late, practically years away. There are too many employees, all the analyzes point to it. Second, the losses in the transmission of electricity are huge. EPS has quite large unpaid claims – about 100 million euros a year”, said Vladimir Vuckovic, from the Fiscal Council.
Despite the constant criticism of the IMF coming to the Government of Serbia years ago, there were almost no indications in Nemanjina 11 that anyone would be more serious about tackling the problem called “Electric Power of Serbia”. Whether the sales allegations are correct – we have not been able to find out, but it has long been known that EPS is facing the problem of redundancies, that the company needs urgent systematization of jobs and that the salaries – according to estimates by domestic experts – are too high.
This is the attitude of economic analyst Milan Culibrk. He states that it is the largest company in the country, that it has the largest assets, and is also the most inefficient system that has not been invested in for decades.
“Being transformed into a joint-stock company means absolutely nothing, nor will it mean an introduction to the sale. Telecom is a joint-stock company, the airport is a joint-stock company – does anyone ask citizens and millions of Serbian citizens about decision-making and what will it be the fate of these companies? As far as EPS is concerned, I think it is far from privatization, nor do I think that with this situation in EPS at the moment it would be a rational move at all”, says Milan Ćulibrk, an economic analyst.
Will EPS be sold – Belgrade’s press conveys that it will only be clearer as elections in Serbia pass. Until then – hibernation in which EPS has been around for many years, the enterprise continues, N1 reports.