Electricity

Transformation of Serbia’s power utility EPS sparks controversies

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Published

April 3, 2023

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Published:

April 3, 2023

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The upcoming reorganization of state-owned power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije into a joint stock company has caused controversies in Serbia. The company’s scientific council and workers’ unions stood up against the changes to the statute that were proposed by the Ministry of Mining and Energy. They said the move would ruin the company, but Minister Dubravka Đedović said misinformation was abundant.

The proposed amendments to the statute of Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) are a step in the transformation into a joint stock company and they need to be adopted by the supervisory board, appointed by the Government of Serbia. However, the board decided today to postpone the decision by one day.

The two sides revealed opposing positions last week at a meeting of the supervisory board when draft changes to the utility’s statute were discussed. The Sindikat radnika EPS-a trade union dismissed the proposal, arguing it would lead to the company’s destruction, and threatened a strike.

The utility’s scientific council and a trade union claimed the proposed changes to the statute are harming the government-controlled company

The Scientific Council of EPS, which was formed in mid-December, also opposed the proposal, the company said. The panel claimed the planned changes jeopardize the entire society and urged for a hold.

Limiting EPS’s activities to energy production and creating the conditions for someone else to trade the electricity that it produced would interrupt the company’s recovery, cause financial issues and open the way for its privatization and threaten Serbia’s energy sovereignty, the council added.

The expert panel said that electricity supply under regulated prices should be an activity in the public interest. Transforming the assembly to a one-member body appointed by the government makes no sense even if that person is an expert, it underscored.

The council noted its chief Slobodan Vukosavić also heads the energy section of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU) and that it includes the deans of most of the relevant faculties and institutes in Serbia.

Đedović: EPS will continue to trade electricity

HPP Đerdap I (photo: EPS)

Production needs to be EPS’s main activity so that it can generate enough electricity for the country, but it will still keep trading electricity, Minister Dubravka Đedović said.

The assembly issues strategic guidelines, in accordance with decisions from the Government of Serbia

Đedović pointed out that the government is the only shareholder and added that it intends to keep it that way.

The supervisory board makes most of the decisions while the assembly is only authorized for strategic guidelines, for which it requires decisions from the government, she explained.

The most important members of the Scientific Council are not against reforms

Among the members of the council are the deans of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Mining and Geology and the Faculty of Technology and Metallurgy, all from Belgrade, the dean of the Technical Faculty in Novi Sad and the heads of the institutes Mihajlo Pupin and Nikola Tesla, and none of them are against the proposed changes, according to Đedović.

The people who resist change are acting in their own interest

The unions and all those who resist change are fighting for their interests and not for employees, she said.

Đedović claimed the transformation wouldn’t affect employees. She stressed that the ministry has accepted a suggestion from trade unions to have their representatives on the supervisory board.

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