The Property Directorate is misleading the public about Prokop

In the response to allegations of Transparency Serbia and the Coalition for Supervision of Public Finances that during the selection of a private partner for the construction of the Belgrade-Centrе railway station (Prokop), parking and accompanying commercial facilities, the Law on Public-Private Partnerships and Concessions was violated, the Republic Directorate for Property (RDP) stated that it relied on the provisions of two other laws. However, the analysis shows that those provisions cannot be applied to this case at all.

Among other things, the DRP points out that the Serbian government has decided that this is a "project of importance for the Republic of Serbia" based on the norm which refers to situations when agricultural land is converted into construction land, although in this case, it is undoubtedly the construction land. The directorate also claims that it could have alienated publicly owned land without public bidding, based on Article 100 of the Law on Planning and Construction and Article 15 of the Law on Public Property, although these norms indicate the obligation to conduct a public-private partnership procedure.

The directorate had two possibilities for the realisation of this project. It could have carried out a joint public-private partnership procedure if the conditions were met (long-term cooperation between the public and private partner). Another possibility was to conduct several separate procedures that are regulated by the laws of the Republic of Serbia - e.g. one for the procurement of the construction work of the railway station and the other for the sale of construction land for the construction of commercial facilities.

Instead, the directorate decided to conduct a procedure that is not regulated by any legal act (“public call for letters of interest”), and which did not provide an adequate level of transparency, where the criteria for selection of bids were not precisely defined and in which there was no possibility to protect the rights of interested partners or protect the public interest.

We conclude that the Republic Directorate for Property, instead of recognizing and trying to eliminate the serious omissions we pointed out, clumsily tried to justify the apparently illegal award of the state contract and public property to a private partner, citing as a "legal basis" provisions of special laws which cannot be applied in this case, and all that to deceive the public.