According to the data of the Fiscal Council, the losses of energy companies in Serbia from last fall to today amount to around 2 billion euros. Instead of building a new highway, like Corridor 10, whose projected value for both legs from Niš to Dimitrovgrad and to Preševo cost so much, Serbia gave that money to the losses of Srbijagas and Elektroprivreda Srbije from last fall to today.
Member of the Fiscal Council Nikola Altiparmakov says that the causes of the state cost for Srbijagas are found in the international price jump and the state’s decision to subsidize gas prices, while EPS losses covered by the state were induced during the last decade and are the result of bad business and management. He considered that the EPS was a bomb that partially exploded due to management problems.
“We depend on coal, the calorific value of which is falling. It was necessary to prepare new overburden, which was not done, so fuel oil was added. And it’s simple, we just had to prepare coal. The problems of EPS are that 70 percent of electricity is produced in thermal power plants, we depend on coal, and the caloric composition of coal decreases over the years, everyone sees it and it was recognized a few years ago that new overburden is needed, they are not discovered, you cannot burn and then add fuel oil, these are simple things”, Altiparmakov said.
“The biggest problem is temporary management”
World Bank economist Lazar Šestović pointed out that the responsibility for this must be determined and pointed out that we must not put ourselves in the same situation this winter. According to the opinion of the World Bank economist, EPS must be urgently put on a healthy footing, and this is possible, as he says, by selecting the right people at the head of this public company.
“The biggest problem is that for years these large systems, all our public companies, have been maintained in an acting state. Simply, you cannot run companies that have thousands of employees, billions of euros in turnover, and keep them under some temporary management. It must that practice should be stopped”, Šestović believes.
The renovation of the EPS will take years, and experts expect that despite the problems, Serbia will have electricity this winter. Šestović notes that everything depends on what the winter will be like and points out that the energy system of the whole of Europe is in trouble.
“We are a small country here, a small producer and consumer, we depend on what is happening in Europe and what happens there, it will happen here. If there is electricity on the market, we will buy it, and we will pay as much as we have to”, says Šestović.
“We will pay off the debt for years”
He adds that another important thing is to work on putting the EPS operationally on a healthy footing and rebuilding capacities.
“We could probably secure the funds to import electricity, but of course we will not only pay for it now, but we will pay it off for a long time in the coming years. This is something that we really should not have allowed ourselves to find ourselves in this situation, especially since Serbia was in the former Yugoslavia the main producer of electricity”, Altiparmakov points out.
He mentioned that we will not be able to give the funds that we are now giving to EPS and Srbijagas for the improvement of education and for some other vital functions. He added that it is a problem that has been worsening for a decade and pointed out that there was no adequate reaction from the Government of Serbia or the World Bank and that is why we are where we are.
According to economists, the state will cover all expenses of energy companies by borrowing, and the economic system of Serbia will only be able to recover in 2024, Euronews reports.