Serbia’s State Audit Institution Reports Deficiencies in Urban and Suburban Transport; Incentives for Rural Development And Management of Safety Risks at Level Crossings

Serbia’s State Audit Institution Reports Deficiencies in Urban and Suburban Transport; Incentives for Rural Development And Management of Safety Risks at Level Crossings

February 5, 2021

On February 2, 2021, the State Audit Institution (SAI) released the results of three recent performance audits.

SAI reported that third of the Republic of Serbia’s population is dissatisfied with the functioning of urban and suburban passenger transport, and nearly a million people have no access to this organized communal activity of general interest. Effective and efficient functioning of urban and suburban passenger transport at the local level requires strategic guidance and regulated criteria for the delivery of communal activities at the national level. The identified weaknesses in functioning of urban and suburban passenger transport in local self-governments – the auditees, indicate that there is a need for increased efforts of local governments in the area of planning in line with the citizens’ needs, including oversight over the quality of service provided considering the funds spent.

SAI reported that although at least 26 billion dinars were allocated for incentives for rural development measures, it is not possible to assess the level of achievement of rural development policy goals, as planning documents were not timely adopted and failed to define the expected outputs of individual measures. Thus, Serbia needs to plan systematically and timely, at national and consequently local levels for rural development, rather then providing incentives with no plan and possibility of oversight and measurement of policy success. Application process for beneficiaries needs to treat equal all farmers, and process their applications timely, as it can take up to 500 days at the moment. Ministry of Agriculture needs to establish and maintain transparent Register of incentives, which should contain available data on the type and amount of realized incentives per single beneficiary. Ministry of Agriculture needs to perform on-site checks, regularly, guided by risk assessments.

SAI reported that inefficient management of safety risks at level crossings is in need of precise and harmonized normative framework, and better coordination competent entities, to eliminate causes of risks at level crossing. The railway infrastructure operator company has not based the selection of level crossings planned to be fitted with modern safety features on a previously performed risk assessment, which would include all existing level crossings. The state roads operator company and the City of Novi Sad have not sufficiently planned activities within their competence that would enable more efficient maintenance and management of road infrastructure in relation to level crossings. The railway infrastructure operator company, the state roads operator company and the City of Novi Sad, have not undertaken all activities within their competence, which may create a risk that traffic safety at level crossings is not at the appropriate level.

More than 50 representatives of CSOs, the media, and other external stakeholders joined SAI’s February 2, 2021, press conference which was broadcast via UNS Press Center of the Journalists’ Association of Serbia You Tube Channel. Numerous others participated in the press conference via Zoom platform,.

SAI holds press conferences every Tuesday between January 12 and February 9, at noon, online at UNS Press Centre, by order published on SAI webpage  http://www.dri.rs/mediji/Konferencije-za-novinare—Predstavljanje-izvestaja-o-reviziji-svrsishodnosti-poslovanja.n-534.107.html

USAID Government Accountability Initiative supports strengthening SAI’s capacity to conduct risk-based selection of performance audits aligned with SAI’s 2019-2023 Strategic Plan.

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