Merošina has always occupied an ideal geographical position, with the City of Niš on one side and the City of Prokuplje on the other. However, as of two years ago, it has also had great leadership, which has utilised the close proximity of two highways – Belgrade-Skoplje and Niš-Priština – to entice numerous investors and improve the lives of residents
Prior to being appointed municipal president, Saša Jovanović – as a member of the then temporary governance body – kept abreast of all happenings, problems, plans and projects. This ensured that he was able to immediately launch the implementation of existing projects, but also to create major plans, which he reveals in this CorD interview.
Following many years of stagnation, Merošina is finally striding forward with assured steps. What has changed in that respect?
It is true that everything started to improve as of two years ago, but we don’t deserve all the credit for that, because we also had major support from the state.
Admittedly, we had well-worked projects that we used to apply to all ministries and we received funds, but workers’ income taxes remain our main source of revenue. Over the course of just one year, revenues generated from income tax increased by 30 per cent, which also means that employment is on the rise, while tax collection is increasing, as are revenues from property taxes and our own and ceded revenue.
However, I must stress that no leader – whether in business, medicine, culture or local government – can achieve anything on their own if they don’t have a good team. And in Merošina we have a good team.
It seems as though the entire municipality is a major construction site. Are we being deceived by the impression?
No, you are correct… A lot of work and construction is happening in our city, and we also have big plans. Construction permits have been secured for the reconstruction of the Jastrebački Partizani Primary School and the building housing the social work unit, but also for the reconstruction and extension of the Municipal building. Strategic importance is given to the construction of a faecal sewer network covering approximately 67 kilometres, while we’re also planning to construct a water supply network on the territory of the municipality.
We are also preparing two industrial zones for investors, which already have the required road and water infrastructure, while work on the sewer system is underway
Priorities also include the infrastructure equipping of the Mramorsko Brdo business zone, covering an area of 55 hectares. In the meantime, we’ve reconstructed Industrijska Street, the settlement of Batušinac is being tarmacked and we’ve secured 34 million dinars from the budget for new works. I also have to mention the construction of a preschool institute, increasing the capacity of the wastewater treatment system, improving energy efficiency, the “Help at Home” project, wastewater management, as well as two capital projects: reconstruction of the highway section from Merošina to Prokuplje and the Niš-Pločnik section of the Niš-Priština highway.
Has the example of your municipality also shown that investing in infrastructure is the best way to entice investors?
We are also preparing two industrial zones for investors, which already have the required road and water infrastructure, while work on the sewer system is underway. We have mostly attracted domestic companies and one mixed Italian-Serbian firm, MING Kovačnica [MING FORGING], which should employ 60 workers in its first year of operations. They plan to increase their capacity in the year ahead, so they’ve already established cooperation with the dual education department of the Technical School in Prokuplje. Another Italian-Serbian company is building a 2,500-square-metre production facility and will manufacture recycling machines. They buy the land – we don’t give it to them for free. There’s also a company from Niš that’s purchasing five hectares and will employ another 100 workers.
Miktronik, the general representative of Bosch for Serbia, has already launched its operations in Merošina, while two more Serbian companies have also entered the industrial zone and we’re awaiting the arrival of Fero Stil, Livnica Stil and some other companies, so we have no problem with unemployment. Anyone wanting to work can find a job.