The Anti-Corruption Council of Serbia has announced that the privatization of the Jaroslav Černi Water Institute is not in the interests of citizens and that it is illegal, saying it should therefore be annulled. The council recommended to the State Attorney’s Office to initiate a procedure to revoke the decision on the selection of the buyer and the sales contract.
The Anti-Corruption Council said in a report that the sale of the Jaroslav Černi Water Institute was carried out without good reason and that it is not in line with the decree on establishing water management, the water management strategy until 2034, and the science and technology development strategy from 2021 to 2025, as well as the laws on waters, science and research, and the country’s science fund, arguing it must be annulled as illegal.
Jaroslav Černi was bought for EUR 2.5 million by the consortium of Millennium Team and the institute’s own seven directors
Of note, in mid-January the Ministry of Economy announced that it had sold Jaroslav Černi for EUR 2.5 million to the consortium of Millennium Team and the institute’s own seven directors. Experts and NGOs have warned that the decision by the Government of Serbia to sell it was harmful.
The Jaroslav Černi Institute is the leading scientific research organization in the water sector in Serbia and one of the most reputable organizations in the region. It was involved in almost all the most important hydrotechnical facilities and systems in the water sector in the country, and it is still participating in similar projects.
The institute had to remain state-owned, given the disastrous privatization of water companies and institutes in countries in transition
The Anti-Corruption Council said that due to its strategic importance in the water management sector, the institute should not have been privatized but retained in state ownership. It pointed to bad outcomes in the privatization of the water management companies and institutes in countries in transition.
With the privatization, private companies will decide on the matters of health, environmental protection and state security, the report reads.
There is no argument that privatization is justified
The council stressed there was no reason to privatize the institute. There was no legal argument that would prove privatization was socially or economically justified and useful, the report reads.
According to the council, the Ministry of Economy refused to disclose the report from an authorized appraiser, who valued the institute at EUR 2.8 million.
There is a suspicion there are elements of corruption
The rejection adds to the suspicion there may be elements of corruption in this case, the council said.
The council claimed the ministry’s public call for privatization from October 1 was drafted in a way that favored a buyer that was already chosen.