On the afternoon of 14 June 2012, several members who were present for the Finance Committee met in order to resume work on the subject of debt among the railways. The meeting was attended by debtors and creditors from around 15 European member railways.
The group is tasked with analysing the various cases of long-term debtors, finding bilateral solutions to improve the situation of long-term debtors, and suggesting that the issue of debt be addressed multilaterally, with repayment plans and harmonised conditions for interest on late payments, compliant with Leaflet 311 (which governs financial relations between UIC railway members).
This meeting reviewed the debt situation between member railways and the need was felt to distinguish two separate periods:
- The period from 1995 – 2005, which bears the consequences of the Yugoslav conflict, and the long and significant disruptions to railway transport in the region with damage or blocked access to transport infrastructure in the area.
- The period since 2006 where late payments are mainly related to difficulties experienced by certain members, and aggravated by the recent financial crisis and the economic slowdown which affects transport.
The problems of tackling the issue of debt are hindered by the restructuring of companies into several entities and sometimes the privatisation of the entities created. It therefore becomes very difficult to find the successor guarantor on any debt.
The method presented by Mrs Lim to take up the issue consists in:
- Establishing an accurate assessment of the amounts in question,
- Determining the reasons for the non-payment of previous reimbursement plans signed but subsequently not adhered to,
- Finding the right successor of the participating companies to confirm payment commitments.
A meeting is planned in September to provide an update of the survey regarding the approval of the outstanding balance on the current accounts of the two parties in order to determine the principal amount of debt.
The latter represents a total amount of around 50 million euros, predominantly owed by Serbia, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Montenegro and Albania.
All the members deplore the outstanding debt and the fact that no contact can be arranged with Albania. UIC will make the case for expelling Albania at the next General Assembly.