Serbia, Whatever they do, the majority owner of the NIS will remain the Russians

, News

No matter what they do, the majority owner of the Serbian Oil Industry will remain the Russians, Ljubodrag Savić, a professor at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Belgrade, told Tanjug.

To be happy that we have enough gas and oil, that the prices are acceptable for the citizens, and who will be the majority owner – no matter what we do, the majority owner will remain the Russians, he said.

Commenting on the recent information in the Western media that Serbia is considering the conversion of ownership in NIS as well as the position of that company, which in nine months made a profit of around 600 million euros, Savić assessed that “everything is so tangled that there are not many solutions”.

First, we know how and to whom we sold NIS and we know how we operate today. And part of that package is the gas arrangement, it was the South Stream and today it is the Balkan Stream. At the moment, the Russians are sitting firmly in Serbia, nobody will convert the ownership of NIS if they don’t have to, he said.

He added that even if a conversion has to be made in which Serbia would become the majority owner, “it will only be for formal reasons”.

The budget would be healthier if the energy sector was “cleaned up”

Savić stated that the budget would be healthier if the state cleaned things up in the energy sector, given that it significantly affects the increase in the deficit.

If only that had been done in the energy sector, I believe that they would have a much healthier budget than we have now, Savić told Tanjug.

Speaking about the larger budget deficit foreseen by the rebalancing, which is from three to almost four percent, he estimated that the biggest problem there is precisely the energy sector.

With the circumstance that energy prices are rising in the world, he stated that we have spent 600 million euros for importing electricity and reminded that Serbia has been producing enough electricity for its own needs for decades.

A decade-long problem is EPS mismanagement. Some people were “sitting on their ears”, starting with the minister, and ending with the leadership of the EPS, and it seems that the current leadership of the state is also a little bit. We should have reacted earlier, and not get into a situation where we don’t have enough coal to produce electricity, which didn’t happen even in the 90s during the sanctions, he said.

He also warned about the problems of electricity theft and losses on the network, and he assessed as astonishing the fact that 1.7 bidders applied for EPS tenders.

That’s more or less one offer per tender. It seems that there is no competition in the execution of works, he said.

Savić noted that in the case of EPS, subjective problems are objective ones.

“Nothing can change the price of electricity in the world, but we could have prepared for it not to be such an import,” he said.

Speaking about Srbijagas, he said that he cannot be sure what is the source of the problems that are being talked about when it comes to that company.

Is it because of bad management, is it because Serbia solves social issues through the price of gas… I can’t ignore the fact that many losing companies have been in debt for gas for decades, he said.

Speaking about the rebalancing, Savić pointed out that a significant source of surplus money in the budget is inflation, i.e. price increases that bring more income from VAT.

Although neither the economy nor the authorities that run it are functioning badly, this surplus is primarily a consequence of high inflation. Some money has accumulated from those high inflation-linked revenues, he said.

He assessed that borrowing from the Abu Dhabi Development Fund and the IMF were forced moves.

They came, it’s a bit unbelievable, after statements from the Government of Serbia and the President that Serbia has no need to borrow, that the state of the budget and public finances is good, he said.

Savić said that the share of public debt in GDP is 55-56 percent, but this does not mean that the state of public finances in Serbia is stable.

If it were stable, they wouldn’t take these 3.5 billion additional loans – it was forced. This is, among other things, a consequence of the need to provide increased funds for energy producers where we do not know what will happen with prices, he said.

He assessed the planned spending of seven percent of the budget on infrastructure projects as a very good move.

But a good part of the money will unfortunately go to unnecessary expenses that were justified at the beginning of the pandemic, and Serbia continued to finance it. I can’t say that 100 euros of help to young people is not welcome, but a good host should think about what it means for the budget of the state of Serbia, he said.

Savić said that the story that the state of our public finances is very good, while on the other hand we are in debt for 3.5 billion, seems somehow incongruous.

He expects further deepening of the world crisis, and that problems in public finances will appear not only in Serbia.

We should expect new borrowing, and some not so big problems in financing the public needs of the state, he said, Dnevnik writes.