A senior official of the Serbian Anti-Corruption Council spoke out against the privatization of the Jaroslav Cerni national Water Institute which the government wants to turn over to private investors.
Council Vice-President Miroslav Milicevic told the Beta news agency that the Institute should not be privatized under any circumstance. “That Institute is the only institution that can save our waters and the state should not give up ownership,” he said.
According to media reports, the Millenium Team company, which is alleged to be closely associated to the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), made an offer to the management of the Jaroslav Cerni Water Institute to form a consortium for the privatization. The Institute, majority owned by the Republic of Serbia, is the leading scientific research organization in Serbia and the region. Its approval is required for projects which could jeopardize waters anywhere in Serbia, including projects such as Rio Tinto’s Jadar lithium mine and the construction of the Belgrade metro both of which are still in planning stages. Experts have warned that both projects could cause pollution and jeopardize drinking water supplies.
Milicevic said that Anti-Corruption Council is having trouble getting access to documents on the privatization of the Jaroslav Cerni Institute but added that he expects to get all the needed paperwork by the end of November. He said that he requested a meeting with Prime Minister Ana Brnabic to discuss the issue but got no reply.
“We are saying that the Institute should not be sold because privatization can lead to corruption. “The Institute’s financial value can’t be assessed because it is priceless in national terms,” Milicevic said.
The official estimated value of the Jaroslav Cerni Water Institute is 2.8 million Euro with the starting price for offers set at 2.58 million.