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news 27 Sep 12

Serbia Backtracks on Closing State Agencies

The government appears to have backed away from its earlier pledge to scrap a mass of costly government agencies, with only seven out of 130 earmarked for abolition.

Bojana Barlovac
BIRN
Belgrade

Serbia's new government has backtracked on pledges to scrap costly state agencies that are widely seen as bodies for employing the friends and relatives of top officials.

Only seven of the 130 state agencies that the ruling coalition parties promised to shut down in the election campaign will no longer exist as of this week.

Parliament on Tuesday scrapped the National Tourism Development Agency, Agency for Games of Chance, the Foreign Exchange Inspectorate, the Agency for Radiation Protection, the Fund for the Environment, the Energy Efficiency Agency and the Agency for Chemicals.

Balkan Insight has learned that others may be shut down later - but for the moment, most remain in existence.

After the new government was formed two months ago, ministers were supposed to compile and submit a list of all the agencies working in their remits.

But only two ministers, Finance Minister Mladjan Dinkic and Energy Minister Zorana Mihajlovic, actually did so. The rest promised to comply in the forthcoming period.

Even the seven agencies that have ceased to exist have only vanished on paper. Their employees have not been fired but relocated to the relevant ministries.

In addition, the new budget review adopted on Tuesday envisions the same amount of money (about 94 million euro) going on state agencies as was the case before.  

Vladimir Vuckovic, member of the Fiscal Council, said that even if all the agencies were closed the savings would not make much difference to the budget gap of about 2 billion euro.  

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