- Category: Politics
- Published on Thursday, 25 November 2021 11:16
November 24, 2021
Agriculture Minister Branislav Nedimovic told the Serbian Parliament on Wednesday that the changes to the law on expropriation allow the authorities to declare a public interest in both reconstruction of existing and the construction of new facilities.
“It turns out that determining the public interest for the reconstruction of existing facilities is justified and not just for construction of facilities important to the Republic of Serbia,” he said adding that in the past expropriation was not possible for reconstruction.
The minister said that the law will now more clearly define the subject and beneficiaries of expropriation, provide shorter deadlines for procedures, resolve the issue of illegally built facilities and define administrative transfer procedures. “Under the changes, expropriation does not extend to all forms of ownership including public property which was not the case so far,” he said, adding that in some cases when public property was privatized it was not easy for the authorities to get hold of properties which were deemed necessary.
The draft law says that all proceedings are immediate and that the law is being changed to allow quick and efficient completion of expropriation procedures in the public interest. “The government can determine a public interest for the exploitation of mineral resources, protecting the environment and dealing with natural disasters and the procurement of land to build new housing for resettlement,” the draft law says.
President Aleksandar Vucic said in a live news conference that the expropriation law has nothing to do with Rio Tinto. He said that law is needed to speed up construction when owners of land demand much more than market value. He added that nothing would happen with the Rio Tinto project before the public decides but that the authorities don’t know what the question is yet.
Environmental organizations and the opposition have been warning that the changes to the expropriation law will allow the authorities to seize any land or facilities under the guise of a public interest. Environmental activists see this law as a concession to the Rio Tinto company which is planning to open a lithium mine in western Serbia and has already started buying land in that area. The authorities have responded by saying that Rio Tinto’s Jadar mine project will only go ahead if a decision to that effect is taken at a referendum. Parliament is also due to debate a new referendum law which has drawn criticism from the opposition.