Market inspection is the most trusted

Over the past year, the Market inspection has performed field control on average 65 times a day, reaching a record of 36,000 inspection visits, with only 350 inspectors, mostly reacting to doubts of illegally increased prices. Citizens see this inspection as the most deserving for countering shadow economy, more than the President and the Government, as confirmed by 18% respondents in NALED's opinion survey on shadow economy.

Along with more than 26,000 regular and 8,700 extraordinary visits, inspectors also performed nearly 1,000 advisory visits, to highlight the ommissions that could be fixed by businesses, to avoid misdemeanor charges and penalties.

In three months since the launching of the Contact center for national-level inspections citizens and businesses have submitted even 4,422 inquiries (3,355 during the state of emergency). Most reports referred to the Market inspection (34%), with citizens reporting increased prices or refused claims, non-registered shops or avoidance of issuing fiscal receipts. 

- Even though inspectors were quick to respond to reports, I believe they would be even more efficient if younger generations were more interested to choose this profession, which would improve the age structure of inspections employees, now being 57 on average. Inspectors should also be furher motivated by enabling them to advance in their careers, and by adequately awarding the good staff – says Zsuzsana Hargitai, Head of European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for Western Balkans, which supports the inspection reform in Serbia. 

According to the 2019 and 2020 data, the citizens have mostly addressed the Market inspection due to illegal increase of prices in retail shops (61%), while also reporting service providers (27%), refused claims (27%), non-registered shops (16%) and non-issuance of fiscal receipts (9%).

Based on the reports the line inspections submitted to court, there have been 536 declared penalties, of which four being rejected, one acquitted and one suspended, and the most common verdicts referring to ban of activities for non-registered businesses, temporary seizure of goods and removal of errors in line with the Law on Tourism.

In 2017, in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Government, and with the support of EBRD, NALED established the Support Unit to Coordination Commission for Inspection Oversight, and during last year, the development of eInspector software has established more transparent inspection oversight. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has also supported the introduction of a comprehensive Contact center for national-level inspections for reporting irregularities, whose launching was accelereated due to the crisis caused by COVID-19.

Protection for those that protect the law

The Support Unit for the GoS Coordination Commission for Inspection Oversight say that the inspectors are ofen experiencing verbal and physical attacks at their jobs – from serious threats to light or severe injuries, which is why the inspections reform also focuses on strengthening their status. The last such case occured a month ago in Smederevo when an entrepreneur operating in the shadow zone attacked a labor inspector, tore the records notes, insulted her and threw things at her, and the line minister announced the filing of a criminal charge regarding this case.

Over the past five years, according to the National Statistics Office, the number of criminal charges regarding attacks on officers ranged from 300 to 400 a year, and 60% proceedings ended with a suspended sentence. At least a quarter of reports end up being dismissed, while a third were finalized with a prison sentece, most commonly for three, six or 12 motnhs.

For this reason NALED, the Ministry of Public Administration and the Serbian Inspectors Network have submitted an initiative to the Ministry of Justice for improving the legal protection of inspectors, accompanied with consistent prosecution and court practices. 

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