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November 20, 1995
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 216


Narodne Novine newspaper in Nis has been telling residents of the city who the people were who rightly decided that the first laureate of the newly established January 11 award should be Mile Ilic.

From day to day, the management boards of various companies, directorates, associations, schools and others have been praising him. "Nis has never had a builder like Mile Ilic," the TP Trznica trade company said in its explanation. The leader of the Socialists in Nis is also credited with reviving crafts and speeding up the development of private enterpreneurship and the management board of the Entrepreneurs and Craftsmen's Association urged the award for him. Few local company directors have kept out of the local newspapers, probably fearing punishment if they don't praise him or are just following the party line.

For now the only other candidate for the award are the people of Nis. The city's population was nominated for the award by Democratic Party vice president Zoran Zivkovic. He said the citizens of Nis deserve he award because "they survived and are still normal" despite the fact that "they bring children into the world in conditions below any norm of civilization" and their children freeze in unheated schools and live in dark and cold apartments while their city is constantly being dug up so that a select few can get rich.

Zivkovic's proposal was called an attempt "to mock the annual award" by the newspaper which is the main promoter of Ilic. That makes it clear that the award will go to Ilic. The population of Nis can only lose in a race with the city's first Socialist.


Every second citizen of Uzice is being sued for not paying electricity bills: of a total 20,100 consumers, 10,225 have been warned to pay their bills; close to 8,000 owe under 50 Dinars but the rest owe an average 150 Dinars.

"We mainly seize TV sets, tape decks and other technical goods," one of the debt collectors says but he didn't say whether they pay back the difference in cost between what people owe and the value of the seized goods.

The appearance of debt collectors as representatives of the law ruled state could cause regrets that banks which swallowed millions of Dinars didn't have TV sets, tape decks and similar things: many savers would now own duty free shops or technical goods stores.


In the midst of the battle against excessive water consumption, Belgrade's city fathers told the press that mobile plumber brigades would fix anything that causes loss of water free of charge (consumers would just pay for valves, pipes and other spare parts).

Preferably, if anything does happen to your plumbing it should be on a working day during office hours. If anything happens at night or over the weekend, the duty dispatchers' phones published by the daily press will ring off the hook.

A woman from Loznicka street told VREME that a pipe burst in her apartment at two a.m. on the night of Saturday-Sunday and after dialing the duty phones she called a private plumber who arrived in record time. He stopped the water from spilling out and came back the next day to check the pipe, wouldn't accept coffee or a drink and charged for the work: they have no deal with city hall.

Eco Warriors

Organized, rich, politically influential, loud mouthed and sometimes aggressive international fighters for the protection of the environment are just babies compared to local "green warriors". On Monday, November 13, city communal workers went into the yard of building 14 in Senjanin Ive street to cut down two trees and cut back the branches of 11 others. They were there at the call of one of the tenants who complained that the tree branches never allowed any sun into his home and were dampening the walls. Just as they got to work, a middle aged woman appeared on one of the windows, pulled out a gun and told them to get lost. The police came and arrested the woman but advised the tree cutters to stop what they were doing. They cut back the branches of the 11 trees once they realized no one else in the building had any ecological awareness but they didn't cut down the two trees they were supposed to.

Farm Taxes

Relatively frequent elections, high inflation, sanctions which caused the state to view agriculture as its only mainstay, have gotten farmers used to not paying taxes which, even when paid, stood no higher than the price of a pack of cigarettes. That silent pact between farmers and the state functioned; the state bought farm produce at prices it set, farmers were loyal at elections because they didn't pay taxes. But the end of the deal is near. Once it ran out of money, the state stabilized by collecting debts. With interest. The financial police started raiding private companies and markets and collected taxes from farmers by force. The state isn't gentle; there are numerous cases of farmers being handcuffed which many of them see as a return to the time of compulsory sales of produce to the state. This example happened in the village of Zminjak near Sabac.

Debt collection officers, naturally anonymous, told VREME about their techniques. If taxes aren't paid, which happens on a huge scale, the guilty party is informed in writing that taxes will be collected. If the taxes still aren't paid within 10 days, debt collectors go in and seize property. They said farmers with the maximum of land (10 hectares) pay an annual 1,200 Dinars in taxes plus 250 Dinars for each family member for social security. They wouldn't comment on the case in Zminjak except to say that the farmers asked to be tied.

Zminjak is a typical flatlands village. Debt collectors were there on Friday, November 10.

Zivan Petrovic had his Mercedes seized, Milutin Petrovic had his Zastava, Slobodan and Budimir Moravcevic had their tractors, Mile Moravcevic had his washing machine and TV set, Zivadin Bastovanovic had a tractor trailer with four tons of corn. Some of them were handcuffed while their property was being seized. Most of them found ways to come up with the cash to pay their taxes because the property that was seized was worth much more. Zivadin Bastovanovic didn't. He says he has no way to find cash. No buyer for the corn or the hectare of land he is prepared to sell.

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