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Minister of Economy and abuses

Transparency – Serbia (official chapter of Transparency International) points out that Minister of Economy, Željko Sertić, in an attempt to justify multiple violation of the Law on Free Access to information, went one step further in yesterday’s interview on RTV (TV show „Right angle“).

He directly accused our organization of wishing to „abuse“ the access to the management contract for Smederevo Steel Plant. In order to make this accusation even harder, Minster Sertić stated that publishing of the contract could „endanger ... not only 5,000 employees in Smederevo but also 15,000 indirectly employed and thus create immeasurable damage regarding investors' confidence in Serbia“. We believe that Minister, by making up false accusations, tried to justify its own violation of the Law that could even be treated as abuse of office. Namely, one of the forms of abuse of office is a situation when official doesn’t perform its legal duty (e. g. doesn’t proceed by final, obligatory and executive decision of authorized state organ – Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Protection of Personal Data) and this results in "severe violation of the rights of others“ (e. g. information seeker).

This case is simple: if there are certain data from the managing contract for Smederevo Steel Plant that shouldn’t be published according to appropriate legal basis, then Ministry should have protected these data, and published the rest of the contract, not waiting for anyone to submit request for free access to information. Ministry managed by Mr. Sertić, according to our estimation, is the sole responsible for keeping the confidential information along with public ones in this contract that refers to disposing with state property.

Protection of confidential parts and publication of the rest could have been done when the contract was signed, when Ministry received request for free access to information, or at least in the process of resolving by complaint. Minister Sertić chose another way – to persist on secrecy of every letter in the contract, whose signing with presentation of numerous details was promoted on the press conference (!), and to refer to conclusion of the president of the Commission for Protection of Competition, as alleged reason for non publishing, even after it was undoubtedly determined that the Law on Free Access to Information must be implemented, or to alleged, never quoted, „European rules“. Precisely with such proceedings, Ministry of Economy placed this contract under doubts and created danger of potential damage to Smederevo steel Plant and the Republic of Serbia.

Transparency – Serbia

Belgrade, 16 October 2015