An estimated 206m-euro debt, due mainly to Serbian companies, and 41m euros of obligations to other foreign companies, hinders Trepca's privatisation.
By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 06/08/12
High debts of the Kosovo Trepca mines are hindering its privatisation process. [Reuters]
The privatisation of Trepca, a huge industrial mine complex in Kosovo, has been placed on hold so that officials can complete an audit and create an accurate list of its creditors.
"Unsolved financial problems impede Trepca privatisation, mainly debts incurred after 1990. It cannot be sold or privatised unless its debt amount is clearly determined and debtors identified," Ibrahim Rexhepi, executive director of the Kosovo Center for Strategic and Social Research, told SETimes.
Trepca is believed to owe an estimated 206m euros, mainly to Serbian companies, and 41m euros to Greek, French and Bulgarian companies. It also owes the Kosovo government about 100m euros for investments made since 1999.
In addition, Serbia is objecting to the privatisation efforts of Trepca, which has valuable reserves of lead, zinc, silver, gold, indium and rare metals. The Economist reported in January 2011 that Trepca's structures, with the rich mine and its numerous processing plants, "accounted for 70% of the [former] Yugoslav extraction production."
Goran Bogdanovic, former Serbian minister for Kosovo, said that the privatisation is "illegal and contrary to UN Security Council Resolution 1244."
"We oppose it, and I see no way in which the privatisation could be carried out. We will do everything to prevent this from happening, because the bulk of the mine is in the north of Kosovo," Bogdanovic told reporters in Serbia.
The privatisation effort started late last year, in line with the Kosovo law for reorganisation and liquidation of certain enterprises and their property, Yilli Kaloshi, spokesperson for the Kosovo Privatisation Agency, told SETimes.
Kaloshi also said that agency will allow 90 days for requests and complaints from potential Trepca creditors, but that process has not begun.
The commission will also include Trepca representatives and other state institutions. "This will be the first time that Trepca creditors will be precisely identified," Kaloshi said.
Musa Limani, professor at the Kosovo Business and Technology University, told SETimes that Trepca's legal status is not solved yet, but that it is considered a public enterprise. Limani added that the Kosovo government does not recognise any contracts on Trepca without the mine's consent.