Translation provided by KoSSev
„Our people in North Kosovo badly need a water supply“, „The four municipalities are in charge of this project“, „The Government of Serbia has supported the construction of a water supply system“, „The government will encourage the municipalities“ – the Director of the Kosovo Office, Marko Djuric, persistently repeated, while answering various questions of an Insider journalist. Bearing in mind that the regional water supply system in the north of Kosovo has not been built, and the fact that the deadlines are long past due, while the Serbian government has paid for its construction, Insider asked the Director of the Kosovo Office: Why has the water supply system not been built yet, whether the contractors were charged a penalty and whether the Government extracted additional funds from its budget for this project. The only direct response was to the question of how much money was given for a water supply system that still does not exist, to which Djuric replied: „I do not know by heart.“
According to Insider research, in order to repay the loans, which were taken by the municipalities of Kosovska Mitrovica, Zvecan, and Zubin Potok, for the construction of a regional water supply system in the North of Kosovo, the Republic of Serbia has paid nine million euros from its budget. The construction contract was signed in 2013, and the project completion deadline was 18 months after this.
Five years later, the residents of the municipalities in the north of Kosovo are expecting yet another summer with restrictions and water shortages.
This week, at a press conference at the headquarters of Srpska Napredna Stranka, the Director of the Kosovo Office, Marko Djuric, talked about traffic blockades due to higher gas prices in Serbia, while providing accurate data on the movement of excise duty on petroleum products for the past ten years. However, when asked how much money has been spent on the construction of the water supply system in the north of Kosovo so far and why wasn’t this water supply system completed yet, he could not provide an answer.
Investment data remain a secret
The tender for the construction of a water supply system in the north of Kosovo was announced during the term of the Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, while Aleksandar Vulin, the former Director of the Kosovo Office, attended the signing of the contract.
„Serbia is here, not to disappear, but to improve the life of its citizens in Kosovo and Metohija, and such a big project says a lot about how much the Republic of Serbia cares for its role and every person living in its territory,“ said Aleksandar Vulin, the former Director of the Kosovo Office while laying the foundation stone for the regional water supply on September 3, 2013.
A construction contract was signed shortly before this event, stating that the deadline for the completion of work was 18 months.
Four years later, in July 2017, the current acting Director of the Kosovo Office, Marko Djuric, visited the construction of the water supply system and stressed how he hoped that „within a year, in this place, we will have something to boast about.“
Citizens of the north of Kosovo are very satisfied with the investment in a fast and efficient water supply
On another occasion, Djuric stated that citizens in the north of Kosovo are very satisfied with the fact investments are being made in the regional water supply system, and in a way that guarantees a quick and efficient completion of the construction.
Insider journalists questioned the Kosovo Office about the construction of the water supply in the north of Kosovo, this year, on April 19. The answer given to the media stated that „the municipality of Zvecan, Zubin Potok, and Kosovska Mitrovica are in charge of the project and the construction of the regional water supply system, and we suggest that you contact the temporary branches of these municipalities for all further questions.“
Spiric and the Ministry of Finance did not respond to why the water supply system was not completed
When asked about how much work was done and why the water supply system was not completed even though the money was secured, the President of the Provisional Authority in Kosovska Mitrovica, Aleksandar Spiric, did not provide an answer, Insider reports.
The data on the money spent on this project from the budget of Serbia has not been provided by the Ministry of Finance, they add. Also, the Government of Serbia never answered the main question: whether all the money from the loan repaid by the state of Serbia has been spent, and if so, where is the water supply system, for the construction of which, this money was intended.
Contractors were paid an advance of 40 percent – or EUR 4.2 million
According to Insider research, at the time of signing the contract, the construction of a regional water supply in the north of Kosovo was estimated to cost more than €11 million. VAT was not included in the price because at the time of signing the contract in July 2013, the Serbian Government Regulation on VAT exemption for all Kosovo product placement was still in force. Nevertheless, this price is €1.3 million higher than the value at which a water supply system of three times greater capacity was built south of Ibar. The south water supply project was funded by the EU Office in Kosovo.
In 2011, the European Union Office launched a project to expand the capacity of the water plant in Sipolje, south of the Ibar, and to build a water supply system that would regulate the supply of water in the southern part of Mitrovica, as well as the north of Kosovo. However, the leaders of the three municipalities in the north – Zvecan, Zubin Potok, and Kosovska Mitrovica did not want to connect to the pipes from the southern part, and instead decided to build their own, regional water supply system in the North.
For these purposes, the three municipalities from the north of Kosovo raised a loan of €9 million from Hypo Alpe Adria Bank, for which the Republic of Serbia has given a guarantee.
Works on the construction of the water supply system were entrusted to a consortium which includes the companies Dynamic Trade and Manufacturing & Construction Kolasin, which were mentioned several times for their disputable work in a report by the Survey Committee on the abuse of funds from the Serbian budget intended for the most endangered people in Kosovo. The same companies are also mentioned in the Insider series „Patriotic Robbery“, on the abuse of funds spent by the state of Serbia in the territory of Kosovo.
The consortium of companies engaged in the construction of the water supply system, apart from Dynamic Trade and Manufacturing & Construction Kolasin, include the companies MPP „Jedinstvo“, AD „Sevojno“, and the RDS Group from Bor.
These companies received an advance of 40 percent – or €4.2 million, even before they started construction.
Serbia settled the debt – paid €9 million for a water supply system that was supposed to supply the citizens in the North with water since 2014
The deadline for the payment of the last loan installment for the construction of the water supply system was April 30, 2018. From the publicly available reports of the Public Debt Management Agency and the State Audit Institution, it can be concluded that the Republic of Serbia has repaid the debt and paid all €9 million of the loan for the construction of the water supply in the North.
Before the end of 2014, at the latest, this water supply system was supposed to provide a regular supply of water to the inhabitants of Zvecan, Kosovska Mitrovica, and Zubin Potok.
The loan has been paid and the water supply is nowhere to be seen.
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