A statement Minister of Finance Sinisa Mali has made about the two largest football and basketball clubs in Serbia, Partizan and Red Star, receiving around RSD4.7 billion from the state budget from 2014 to this day, according to Transparency Serbia is an acknowledgment of abuse of power and influence peddling in the allocation of state funds.
According to Mali’s statement, which was not supported by any documents, the funds were disbursed directly “from the budget and through the ministries,” and indirectly “via pubic enterprises,” Transparency Serbia recalled.
In addition, financial aid, according to Mali, was disbursed “through loans, guarantees and restructuring of tax-related debts.” Yet, the key point of his statement was that “the government is allocating equal sums for both clubs,” and is trying to be impartial in the best possible way.”
“State bodies are allowed by law to support the development of sports and sport associations. But the distribution of state funds should be carried out exclusively through the competent institution, that being the Ministry of Youth and Sports. On the other hand, the decision of public enterprises and government-owned companies to sponsor sport clubs should be based solely on economic criteria, and by no means on political decisions of their directors or any suggestions made by the government officials,” Transparency Serbia pointed out.
The organization also said that all companies should be appraised equally when it comes to issuing loans and state guarantees and restructuring of tax-related debts, and that “the minister’s statement proves or at least gives strong reason for suspicion that other non-legally prescribed criteria and methods were applied in the granting of state funds to sports clubs.”
Transparency Serbia demanded that the minister of finance presents the public with a copy of estimates of funds that were to be allocated to the football and basketball clubs, Red Star and Partizan, along with the copies of documents the estimation was based on.