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Jovan Purar, President Of The Property And Investment Alliance

We Know The Road To The Top Of The Doing Business List

Our Alliance is focused on solving property issues, such as conversion and legalisation, developing the eSpace platform and improving procedures that boost Serbia’s rating on the World Bank’s Doing Business index

Obtaining building permits and registering rights in the cadastre used to be the most complex administrative procedures in Serbia. They were expensive and timeconsuming. Such obstacles to investment and legal security demanded a speedy and final solution. So on NALED’s initiative, comprehensive reform began. Digitalising the required steps has revolutionised this area, so construction permits can nowadays be obtained 2.5 times as quickly as before, while the costs are 18 times lower. Registering rights in the cadastre is now three times faster. Everything can be finished in one place, and the cost is reduced by half.

More than 600,000 resolved construction permit requests since 2016 and almost 950,000 requests obtained for registration of rights in the cadastre since mid-2018 via the single-counter electronic system (eCounter) are the best indicators that we should continue solving other problematic areas and legal property-related issues and obstacles.

The Property and Investment Alliance was formed to serve as an expert body that takes part in creating policies aimed at improving the business environment, solving problems of property relations and suggesting reforms to improve investment conditions for a better position on the World Bank’s Doing Business index. The Alliance is rapidly expanding, it already has 50 members from business, local government, associations and academic institutions.

We have placed cancellation of the charge for the conversion of land use rights among the 10 priority recommendations of the new Grey Book. The existing regulations have mostly failed to fulfil their purpose, and have virtually ‘locked’ 5,000 hectares of construction land whose market value is reduced because it cannot be built on, so production capacities are not being developed and new jobs are not being created. Property rights conversion with the obligation to pay a charge that was already paid on purchase has proven to be an unsustainable practice.

We have placed cancellation of the conversion charge for land use rights, which has ‘locked’ 5,000 hectares of construction land, among the 10 priority recommendation of the new Grey Book

The Alliance has launched an initiative to reach a reliable interpretation of Article 95 of the Law on Cooperatives to ensure equal and consistent solutions for all property-related legal disputes, which for decades have been preventing owners from enjoying their land. The cooperatives want legitimately obtained private property to be confiscated, which has a negative impact on local economic development in many municipalities in Serbia. As a rule, the requests are for the highest-quality agricultural land, whose market value lies between 5 and 15 thousand euros per hectare depending on the location, but the requests also encompass all other cooperative assets, such as business and agricultural buildings, which deters potential investors in agriculture.

The recommendation to speed up the legalisation of illegally-built buildings by extending the determined deadlines and simplifying procedures is equally important. Besides, we are working on further improvement of the registration of property in the cadastre and keeping the cadastre up-to-date. One of the useful measures in that area would be free registration. Finally, our Alliance also proposes a digital solution – the development of eSpace, a new system that would enable electronic development of urban and spatial plans, which would make the procedure simpler, faster and more transparent.

Among the Grey Book recommendations the Alliance will be working on are recommendations to improve the judicial system by automating the court administration, particularly by speeding up cases, decreasing the costs and facilitating communication between the court, case parties and lawyers. In this way, the parties will be able to access things like case law, decisions and model agreements.

For investment, we cannot skip the Grey Book recommendations for the Ministry of Economy. In this area we would like to further improve bankruptcy procedures and the process of establishing economic entities, including important administrative steps for founding a business, such as obtaining an electricity connection, obtaining a loan, registering a pledge, etc. These steps are tracked by the World Bank.