In an attempt to repay the debts, Serbian Railways are forced to sell hotels. The hotels most likely to be auctioned are those in Vrnjacka Banja and Vranjska Banja, as well as Hotel Belgrade, which the former owners tried to reacquire in the process of restitution, a transaction stopped by the state in 2013.
This move has been imposed by the IMF, which requires that the enterprise pay its old debts, estimated to close to EUR 300 million, from its own budget. Since there's currently no money in the budget, they are forced to sell the property not directly related to the functioning of the railway traffic.
– After the distribution of the property, those hotels belonged to Infrastruktura Srbije, an enterprise within Serbian Railways, which doesn't have the money for their maintenance and renovation, as some of them, like Belgrade Hotel, require extensive works. For this reason, it has been principally agreed that these hotels be sold too. In addition to them, other property will be sold as well, such as restaurants, apartments, land, trains, locomotives, everything that has recently been determined not to be recorded, the value of which has been estimated at around EUR 100 million – a Blic interviewee explains.
As he says, since this is insufficient for the repayment of debts, hotels will most likely have to be auctioned too. They were built at attractive locations, and those in Vrnjacka Banja and Vranjska Banja are located right next to mineral water springs, so a large number of interested buyers is expected.
– This is not a new idea, however, so far, there has been a lack of political will to make such a decision. However, since the IMF decision that Railways, not the state, must repay old debts has been adopted, a way to repay them has been found. Besides, now that nearly 800 kilometers of unprofitable railways need to be closed down, it's pointless to expect to keep hotels and restaurants – he says.
Infrastruktura Srbije has indirectly confirmed that the sale of property is one of the ways to repay old debts.
– Infrastruktura doesn't have the money for investing in structures not directly related to railway traffic, including hotel complexes. The final decision on the fate of the hotels and other property will be made by the new government – says the director of Infrastruktura Srbije, Dusan Garibovic.