N1 has obtained the contract that the state of Serbia signed with Italian car maker Fiat for the 2008-2012 period.
The contract was announced as the deal of the century and to this day some of its provisions, especially those related to state financial support and payment deadlines, remain secret.
Democratic Party’s Government, with Mirko Cvetkovic at helm, was the first to enter into contract with Fiat, but the arrangement continued even after the change of government, with Prime Minister Ana Brnabic’s Government signing yet another contract with the company in 2022.
According to the calculation based on the contract and information that N1 obtained from the Serbian Business Registers Agency (APR), Serbia gave the Fiat Automobiles company more than half a billion euros over a period of 10 years, and spent a total of one billion euros on the entire Fiat project.
“A 350-megawatt power plant could have been built, maybe even two, for the sum given to Fiat back then. We wouldn’t be importing electricity now and paying a billion euros, but rather exporting one billion euros worth of electricity,” said Nova Ekonomija columnist Bogdan Petrovic.
Following a complaint by the Anti-Corruption Council, several interventions and appeals, in 2011 the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance passed a decision on disclosing the full text of the contract with Fiat. However, still only a redacted copy of the contract is available on the Serbian Government’s website.
„Because there are confidentiality clauses, as in many other investments when it comes to car manufacturing, car factories hide their production aspects and that is a normal thing,“ said former Serbian President Boris Tadic, while former Minister of Economy Nebojsa Ciric explained that Serbia did not have permission to publish certain parts of the contract and the annexes that were confidential.
The incumbent government also cited Fiat’s corporate rules as a reason for maintaining the confidentiality of the deal. Although Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic promised back in 2014 that he would disclose the Fiat and Etihad deals, this never happened.
“I was not the one who signed the contract, others did, and they kept it from the public. My obligation is to honor the contract and to refrain from disclosing it because we would have to pay draconian penalties if we did. We stick to the agreement and pay our obligations,” the Serbian President said in 2019.
The agreement stipulates that Serbian law is applicable, it also says that the confidentiality of the contract ceases to be valid when the laws of the Republic of Serbia require it. One such law requiring this is the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance, based on which the publishing of the contract was ordered.
Former Commissioner for Information of Public Importance Rodoljub Sabic said it was impermissible for the Prime Minister to say that corporate rules outweigh the rights of the citizens of Serbia, the explicit provisions of its laws and decisions of relevant state bodies.
Even though they were invited or received our letter, those who did not speak for N1 include: the Fiat Serbia company, former Serbian Finance Minister Mladjan Dinkic, former Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic, the Serbian Government Office for Cooperation with the Media, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic’s Office and representatives of the Ministry of Economy. The Ministry of Finance informed us that the Fiat case is not within its jurisdiction.