Serbia to Tighten Anti-Corruption Regulation

The Serbian government has announced a new law on establishing the origins of people’s property in order to tackle graft, but anti-corruption campaigners said it might not provide spectacular results.

vladimir goati photo by Beta

Vladimir Goati of Transparency Serbia | Photo by Beta

The Serbian government believes that the new law will not only boost the fight against crime and corruption, but also ensure that people regularly report their income and pay taxes.

However, watchdog organisation Transparency Serbia warned that the outcome might not meet these expectations.

“Citizens support the government initiative because they believe that the new law will punish those who got rich illegally. But the problem is that laws cannot be applied retroactively, so I’m afraid that people will be disappointed,” Vladimir Goati from Transparency Serbia told BIRN.

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic has said he expects that the new law could be adopted by the Serbian parliament by the end of the September.

Vucic told reporters last week that “all citizens have to pay taxes in accordance with their assets” and that rich people will have to explain how they got their wealth if it is not in accordance with their reported income.

“Somebody who has declared a salary of 50,000 to 70,000 dinars (from 416 to 583 euros), cannot be a great boss with two Porsches or Mercedes, and have 17 houses and apartments. One cannot do it with a salary of 80,000 dinars, so the person will have to explain how he acquired that property,” said Vucic.

Serbian Justice Minister Nikola Selakovic said last Thursday that the new law on determining the origins of property will provide a “more efficient system” to fight corruption in the country.

“But the law cannot be implemented only by the court or a single ministry, it requires cooperation from several government bodies and institutions,” Selakovic added.

The Socialists, part of the Serbian ruling coalition, said last Monday meanwhile that the new law is going to “restore stolen property to the people”.

“With this law, those who used politics to create privileges for themselves will disappear from the political scene,” the party said in a statement.

However, Goati said that Serbia already had laws which enable the authorities to determine any disparity between income and property but there was a problem with the political will to use them.

“But if this law is going to consolidate all those regulations, it could be a step forward,” he said.
3 August 2015