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TS:Illegal choice of partner for Serbia’s railroad station, other facilities

According to the available data, the Republic Property Directorate illegally chose a private partner for the joint construction of the Belgrade-Center railway station (Prokop), parking and accompanying commercial facilities.

„Besides violating the Law on Public-Private Partnership, there were no reactions from other state bodies, such as from the Government, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, the City of Belgrade, the State Attorney’s Office, the Serbian Railway Infrastructure Company and companies Belgrade Cvor company, which had members to the commission for the selection of bidders,“ Transparency Serbia (TS) said in a statement.

The organisation recalled that on July 16, 2019, the Property Directorate issued a public invitation to „potential partners“ to send written offers to construct the station building, parking lot and accompanying commercial facilities. The invitation specified that the Republic of Serbia would give the land and enable the construction, and the private partner would obtain the documentation and finance the construction.

„That this was not just a non-binding call for expressions of interest was also clear by the advertisement which said that after the analysis, the most favourable bid would be selected, which was done,“ TS said.
It added the „Framework Agreement on Joint construction of a railway station facility, parking lot and accompanying commercial facilities and transfer of real estate rights between the Republic of Serbia and Railway City doo Belgrade, as an investor was signed. “

According to TS, the contract undoubtedly represents a public-private partnership (PPP). However, a different procedure should have been carried out in line with the Law on PPP and Concessions from 2011.

„By the Law, the project should have been first approved by the Commission for Public-Private Partnerships, and then a procurement procedure had to be conducted, where the criteria for selecting partners would be precisely defined, protecting the bidders’ rights,“ TS added.

It said that „such a procedure would also guarantee the public key information about the conducted procedure, obligations of the private partner and investments of the state, which is now not provided.“

Together with the Coalition for Public Financial Supervision, TS demanded Serbia’s Government to urgently make all documents publicly available, including the contract with Railway City.