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Inspections and media

Transparency Serbia presented a survey aimed at determining whether the inspectors act impartially or are abused for pressures on the media, i.e. their founders and publishers, and other legal entities - advertisers or potential advertisers in the media. In addition, the research also dealt with the issue of transparency in the work of inspection bodies, as a prerequisite for public control and the identification of possible bias in the control of business entities.

konferencija inspekcijeProgram Director TS Nemanja Nenadić pointed out that there are no solid indicators that the Serbian inspection services are being abused for pressures on media and other business entities, but added that the survey was incomplete because the Tax Administration did not provide the requested data.

Based on the information available so far, one can not draw a completely reliable conclusion whether the inspection is pressuring the media, it can not be claimed that all economic entities in the controls are treated the same way, said Nenadić.

The reason for the survey was that in the previous period "there were more complaints and doubts about the treatment of inspection bodies, with the assessment that it was a pressure on certain media". The survey covered seven towns from various parts of Serbia, and the TS requested information on media controls over the past three years from the inspection. For six towns (Bor, Cacak, Loznica, Vranje, Nis, Kikinda), the sample included all relevant media and legal entities who participated in the co-financing of media content in previous years, and the sample in Belgrade consisted of 11 media.

The sample of other legal entities, i.e. advertisers or potential advertisers, consisted of companies from the furniture, meat and dairy industry sector. Data on controls were requested from tax inspection, firefighting, labor inspection, and it was assumed that they would most often be able to perform the controls of the founders of the media.

For business entities, the sample consisted of companies in the field of furniture, meat industry and dairies, and data were requested from labor inspection, tax, veterinary, market and fire protection inspections.

The TS has requested data on inspection controls with greater or lesser effort obtained from labor inspection, market and veterinary inspection. The Directorate for Prevention, which is responsible for the fire protection and within the Ministry of Internal Affairs, did not respond to the requests, while the Tax Administration first requested an additional 40-day deadline, and then rejected all requests. "The Tax Administration illegally refused to provide TS data about in which media and how many days during 2015, 2016 and 2017 it has conducted inspection supervision, "said Nenadić. The Tax Administration is a key player, but we were not able to get data from it, said Nenadić.

Zlatko Minic from the TS said that the tax inspection refused even to deliver its work plans and work reports, claiming that it was an overload of information. On the new request, to provide data only for Nis, as well as information on which plans and reports it has and how much information is not "too much", the PU responded that there were no data for Nis, and the responsible one declared the other two requests secret.

The PU has practically declared a secret, referring to the Law on Tax Procedure and Tax Administration, even the data on the amount of information that does not count as an excessive amount of information, said Minić, adding that this is the best indicator of how much the PU wants to hide all the information from the public.

Therefore, the basic recommendations of the research are increasing transparency in the work of inspections, especially in the work of tax inspection.

Vesna Ristic from the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, Milan Stefanovic from NALED, Danimir Vulinovic from the State Audit Institution, Svetozar Rakovic from the Independent Journalists Association of Serbia and Maja Stojanovic from the Civic Initiatives participated in the discussion after the presentation of the research.

The research was carried out thanks to the donation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. You can download the entire survey from the TS website. All requests, responses from state authorities and other documents collected during the survey can be viewed or downloaded from: http://www.transparentnost.org.rs/index.php/sr/projekti/168-inspekcije-selektivnost-i-nadzor-medija

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