Apparently, "Progres" won the contract "in a competition". Another company , "Investcomp", also won a contract at the same competition (export of 100,000 tons), but its director explained in a letter sent to NIN that his company had to pass this opportunity (obviously against its will and interest) because they had been "ordered to do so". Obviously afraid, the director failed to mention who had issued the order, but one can assume that it was issued by a state agency or a ministry. "Progres" hasn't received an order of that kind. What could be more logical?
A new call for tenders, issued on Monday by the Serbian directorate for strategic reserves shows that the sale of wheat is lucrative and that there is a shortage of wheat in Serbia: the Directorate will buy all wheat on offer for 55 paras [0.55 dinars, 1 dinar=3 DM] per kilogram. Abroad, the same wheat fetches about 100 paras per kilogram. Obviously, the state and state-owned companies of the head of the state must somehow make money as well. "Progres's" luxurious office building on Knez Mihajlova Street [one of most prestigious addresses in Belgrade] is almost finished, and the company needs money for a luxurious interior.
Everything, therefore makes sense, but one cannot figure out whether it is also legal. The ruling party is preventing establishment of a parliament committee which would carry out an investigation. Secretary general of the Socialist Party of Serbia rejected the idea with indignation. Still, indignation is not a proof of innocence; only of bad temper, maybe even fear of the possible revelations by the future multi-party committee.
Sooner or later, the truth will surface; nevertheless, it is already evident that this period of the Socialist rule will be remembered and go down in history as a time of scandals (oil, gas, wheat...), unbelievable misuse of power and a moral breakdown which has no parallel in recent history of the Western world. Once this regime is gone (it only seems firmly entrenched; much stronger regimes have disappeared overnight), only one question will remain; the question asked by governor Avramovic: where is the money?
The desire to delay the answer to that question is evident in the repressive mechanism which has been set to work in order to hush down rumors about the scandals. Serbian prime minister communicates with the public only through Courts which serve as his spokespersons... However, it seems he is unhappy because of the leniency of our laws and is frantically searching for a way to find more severe punishment for "curious" journalists. Once the journalists stop being critical of the government, the only ones left will be the state officials who will eulogize their boss in the papers (failing any better reason, they will praise him because there is still enough air to breathe); for their service they will receive what belongs to them: crumbs.
This almost monstrous triple symbiosis (high party officials, high state officials, directors of the largest companies), terrifying and astounding collusion of economic and political power which, like a leach, is sucking Serbia's blood will prevent Serbia's return to the international scene at any cost. The most recent arguments of Governor Avramovic with the state agencies in connection with the negotiations with the World bank and the International Monetary Fund demonstrate the desire in the party-state leadership to avoid the return to international financial institutions. We will not receive credits, but we also won't have to accept strict conditions of the IMF which include totally open market economy and privatization; that is the end of their monopolies and even their rule.
After a loudly announced entry into the 21st century, we can now discern what it will really mean to us. Three different studies, published independently of each other (one published by the Serbian institute for development) agree: in extremely favorable conditions, including the inflow of foreign capital, in year 2000 we would reach only 80% of the 1989 GDP. In the best possible situation we would reach the 1989 GDP in year 2005. In the best possible situation; and the reality will be different.
While we work on getting back to the state we had before the Socialist rule, the world won't wait for us. While we waste 21st century trying to reach our standard from 1989, what will happen to those countries who were only a few years ago far behind us in economic development? Our prime minister (busy with wheat and trials) and his superiors do not, do not want to or do not need to realize that. Are they hoping that all of us are blind as well?