Pandemic did not stop construction, the number of permit applications increased in 2020

Although the crisis caused by the pandemic has financially affected many sectors, construction in Serbia has not been one of them. During 2020, 116,737 applications for building permits were submitted, which is 8% more than in 2019. The officers in charge of processing the requests have also maintained efficiency, and by February this year, 98% of requests have been resolved, of which 86% with a positive outcome. These are the findings of the Annual Report of NALED's Property and Investment Alliance.

According to NALED data, Sremska Mitrovica, Novi Sad, Sombor, Kragujevac and Sabac are on the list of the most successful cities in issuing construction permits for 2020. Among municipalities with the number of requests exceeding the national average, the champion positions went to Sopot, Novi Becej and Surcin, while among those with the number below the national average, the most efficient ones were Svrljig, Beocin and Lajkovac.

- When it comes to the speed of issuing building permits, it is noticeable that the average deadlines slightly exceed the deadlines prescribed by law, but it is also encouraging that the average deadline for resolving applications has decreased for all types of permits compared to 2019. For example, while it previously took nine days to issue a building permit, in 2020 the same procedure was shortened to seven working days. On the other hand, it is worrying that 15% of cities and 12% of municipalities are still late in processing all types of permits - says Jovan Purar, President of the Property and Investment Alliance and director of MK Group.

The biggest delays are recorded for the issuance of use permits, issued within 11 days (on average) in cities, and seven days in municipalities, although the legal deadline is five days. The same deadline applies to building permits, but cities issue them within eight days on average. Also, one in ten request submitted by citizens and investors is not correct and requires corrections.

The Property and Investment Alliance has sent initiatives to the Government of Serbia and relevant institutions to resolve property issues in Serbia and improve conditions for construction and investment, including proposals for enabling free registration in the cadastre in the next two years to encourage citizens to register real estate, repealing the law on conversion that fails to achieve its planned goals and blocks construction, extending the deadline for legalization and enabling mass legalization where there are no disputes over real estate, as well as the development of eSpace for more efficient spatial and urban plans.

The Alliance also points out that the introduction of electronic registration for all types of companies has proven to be an urgent issue in the current health crisis. In order to shorten the bankruptcy proceedings that cannot be completed in Serbia in less than two years, it was proposed to eliminate unnecessary costs and shorten the deadlines, and a proposal for a solution for disputes over cooperative land has been sent to the Ministry of Economy.

Together with the Ministry of Mining and Energy, the Property and Investment Alliance has started activities on introducing digital procedures in these areas (eEnergy and eMining) in order to speed up the issuance of permits and attract investments, and adopting new laws that are currently in process - amendments to the laws on energy, mining and energy efficiency, as well as a special law on renewable energy sources.

The Property and Investment Alliance is NALED's expert body, founded in 2018, currently involving 45 members – businesses, local governments and the academic community.

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