In August, a billboard appeared in Banja Luka promoting the premiere of the film Od Vizije do pobjede (From Vision to Victory) about the “successes” of the UCC of Republika Srpska, and the film itself premiered on RTRS just two days before the official start of the campaign. In the centre of the billboard is Vlado Đajić, director of UKC RS and holder of the SNSD list for the National Assembly of Republika Srpska.
In the past few weeks, a big storm has been raised regarding these billboards and the premiere of the film due to the existence of indications that RTRS financed everything with public funds, which they denied.
MP, PRESIDENT OF GO SNSD AND DIRECTOR OF UKC
And this is not the first time that Đajić’s head has appeared in a close-up on billboards with a similar theme, as free examinations for patients were also announced in previous election cycles. True, this is not strictly prohibited by law, but it is a glaring example of how the conflict of interest is applied in practice, more precisely, how the director of UKC RS advertises himself “quite accidentally” on the eve of the election.
An even more drastic example of a conflict of interest is the fact that on August 8, as reported by the Žurnal portal, UKC RS headed by Đajić concluded a deal worth 467,961 KM with Prointer from Banja Luka, a company with which the son of SNSD leader Igor Dodik “collaborates”. Do we need to say that Prointer was the only bidder, and that Đajić, since May 2018, when the Government of the RS appointed him as acting director, has until today given Prointer 12 jobs worth around 3.6 million KM.
The director of UKC RS, Vlado Đajić, is the president of the SNSD Banjaluka Gradski odbor (City Committee) (GO), a representative of that party in the National Assembly of the RS and its candidate for deputy in the NSRS from assembly unit 3. Due to the fact that Đajić holds the position of a representative in the National Assembly of the RS, that the president of the GO SNSD Banjaluka and at the same time he is the director of UKC Banjaluka – he is already in a conflict of interest.
Đajić is also proof that ministries in the RS Government (Ministry of Health) and administrative and supervisory bodies of public institutions in Republika Srpska, by appointing members of the ruling parties to leadership positions, violate the Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interest. As a candidate of the SNSD for a representative in the National Assembly of the RS, Đajić, from the position of president of that party’s General Assembly, has been leading a fierce election campaign for weeks, and even months, while also abusing the leadership position in the UKC Banjaluka for the purpose of personal and party promotion.
The fact that the provisions of the Act on Prevention of Conflict of Interest continue to be violated within the governing structures is also evidenced by the competition for the general director of UKC BL, which was closed on July 29. Đajićje confirmed that he applied for the competition because he “meets all the required conditions”. His statement regarding the incompatibility of functions is interesting.
“In the competition, it was stated that the candidate cannot be a person who is in office in a political party, which, according to the statute, is the president, general secretary and members of the Executive Committee,” said Đajić.
So, it is surprising that Đajić refers to the SNSD Statute, which is in complete conflict with the Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interest, and that he is convinced that he will be elected as the director of UKC despite this.
The position he has in the SNSD, and his unquestionable loyalty to the leader of the party, Milorad Dodik, also results in the fact that even a year after the opening of the Kisik affair, this case has not received a judicial epilogue. Likewise, Đajić promotes investment works within the UKC (construction of an underground garage, new access roads, reconstruction of certain clinics) that are carried out with loan funds that will be returned by all citizens as part of SNSD’s development plan for this health institution.
The distribution of management positions in administrative structures in the public sector of the RS is part of the coalition agreements of the parties that form the government, and in order to circumvent the laws, the Government of the RS uses the vagueness of the Law on Prevention of Conflicts of Interest and the so-called Institute of Acting Directors when making appointments.
The Government of the RS claims that “executives who are appointed as acting officials do not fulfil their mandate to the full extent”, so accordingly, their appointment does not violate the law. But the essence of the “limited mandate” is reflected only in the fact that the Government of the RS can appoint and remove acting directors based on its own assessments and inter-party agreements.
UNEQUAL BEFORE THE LAW
The Commission for the Prevention of Conflicts of Interest of the RS is guided by the same principle. This is not surprising because the members of the Commission are elected by the parliamentary majority, which has full control over its work and decision-making.
Slobodan Čomić, president of the Gradski odbor (GO) of the Socialist Party (SP) of Bileće, councillor in the Assembly of Bileće and president of the regional committee of the SP, is the party’s candidate in electoral unit 9 for deputy in the National Assembly of the RS.
Čomić is also the acting executive director for economic and financial affairs at Hidroelektrane Trebišnjica, which operates as part of the public company Elektroprivreda Republika Srpska.
What is particularly important for Čomić is that he is already in a conflict of interest and that this was confirmed by the decision of the Supreme Court of the RS from July 2022.
In November 2021, the Basic Court in Trebinje issued a verdict that determined that Čomić was in a conflict of interest because, in accordance with the provisions of the Act on the Prevention of Conflict of Interest, he could not be appointed to the position of acting executive director for economic and financial affairs of the Hidroelektrana in Trebišnjica as a party official. The same verdict found that the NO of HET violated the provisions of the statute of HET and the Law on Public Enterprises of the RS.
In the judgment of the Basic Court of Trebinje, it is stated, which was confirmed by the District Court of Trebinje when deciding on Čomić’s appeal, that the Law on Public Enterprises of the RS stipulates that a person who performs an executive function in a political party cannot be appointed as a member of the company’s management board.
The decision of the Basic Court was confirmed by the District Court in Trebinje, and by rejecting Čomić’s request for revision, the court proceedings were legally ended and the conflict of interest was undoubtedly confirmed.
Despite the court verdicts, the administrative and supervisory bodies of public companies in the RS, in this case, Hidroelektrane Trebišnjica and EPRS, by appointing members of the ruling parties to managerial positions, violate the Law on Prevention of Conflicts of Interest, the Law on Public Enterprises and the statutory provisions they establish.
In the SP, they are aware that their candidate for deputy in the National Assembly of the RS is in a conflict of interest at the time of his candidacy, but also using the vagueness of certain provisions of this Act and the Institute of Acting Directors in the Public Sector continue with the practice of running party officials for leadership positions and for holders of legislative power at all levels.
PETROVIĆ’S INFLUENCE ON VOTERS
What is equally controversial about Čomić is that he has a university degree in the appropriate field and five years of professional experience, and according to the court’s decision, he did not meet these criteria at the time of his appointment.
Čomić was officially appointed acting director on August 28, 2020. The court found that he received an indefinite contract at HET at the beginning of June of the same year and that an annexe was added to that contract just two days after Čomić’s appointment.
Čomić then asserted that he did not understand what it was all about and that he “got an indefinite contract at HET back in 2007”. However, he admitted that he was employed with a higher business school, but he did not know how to answer where he graduated that school, stating that it was a school that had its headquarters in Pristina, and was later moved to Blaca, a small municipality in the south of Serbia.
According to the information from the verdict, Čomić also graduated from the private University of Business Engineering and Management in Banja Luka (PIM) in January 2011. Čomić claims that he earned a degree in economics here.
A few months after being appointed to the position of acting executive director, he submitted his diploma from the University of Management and Economics from Kragujevac on November 23, 2018, to the company’s management – a school that is not accredited in Serbia and which is therefore temporarily banned from working. Čomić says that he does not know that this school is prohibited from operating.
Luka Petrović, Secretary General of SNSD and Acting Director General of Elektroprivreda Republika Srpska (EPRS), is the candidate of this party for the position of deputy in the National Assembly of RS.
His candidacy was expected because of the high position he has within the SNSD, but also the influence he can exert on the voters due to his position in the EPRS, where the majority of the workforce is employed at the RES headquarters and subsidiary companies, hydroelectric and thermal power plants in Trebinje, Gack, Nevesinja and Bileći.
Although even without court rulings, Petrović is already in a conflict of interest and the incompatibility of the functions of a party official and the head of a public company, just as in the case of Čomić, the Commission for the Prevention of Conflict of Interest did not respond to this.
Before this year’s elections, the Main Service for Auditing the Public Sector again determined that the merging of functions in a political party and a management position in a public company is one of the generators of party employment in the case of Elektroprivrda RS, that is, it’s subsidiary Rudnik i thermoelektrana (RiTE) Gacko.
In the report published on August 2 on the status of the recommendations given during the financial audit of the Subsidiary RiTE Ugljevik for 2018, it was stated that, out of a total of 11 previously given recommendations, the company implemented six, that two recommendations were partially implemented, while three recommendations were not implemented.
One of the unimplemented recommendations relates to employment, which, according to InfoRadar’s source, continued “with a bang” in RiTE Ugljevik last year.
During 2021, the Company concluded 210 work contracts with 71 people.
In the audit report, it was emphasized that work contracts were also concluded for tasks that are within the scope of the Company’s activities, such as creating work plans, keeping certain bookkeeping records, and publishing procurements on the Web… which, according to the Labor Act, should have been concluded employment contracts.
The auditors found that in the course of 2021, this company with 213 people concluded hundreds of contracts on temporary and occasional jobs. In the sea of new employees, there were also 47 people whose employment at RiTE Ugljevik, on various grounds, ended last year.
In Herzegovina, our source points out, EPRS is the only company that offers economic security to workers from that area. Therefore, the ruling parties that “share” leadership positions in EPRS (SNSD, SP and DEMOS) mobilize the voting machinery a year before the elections in order to ensure their electoral victory.
All this cannot be done without the consent of Petrović, our source reminds us, and states that the auditors also found the same irregularities before the general elections in 2018. We remind you that the application for conflict of interest against Čomić was submitted by Ljubo Vuković, SNSD councillor in the Bileće municipal assembly. However, the report against party colleague Petrović was not filed.
FROM ADVISOR TO FBIH TERMINAL MANAGEMENT
Therefore, the refusal of the management of HET and EPRS to implement legally binding court rulings and to dismiss Čomić from the position of the director is a classic example that BiH is a state of captive institutions and that the executive power is above the judicial power.
It is interesting that in competitions for management positions in the public sector, in the domain of conflicts of interest, organs and institutions referred to the state, instead of the entity, law. Political analysts believe that this was done deliberately in order to avoid legal responsibility when appointing party cadres.
Slaven Zeljko, chairman of the City Board of HDZ BiH Mostar, is a member of the board of the Operator – Terminali Fedrežija d.o.o. Sarajevo (OTF), which is 100% owned by the FBiH Government. Zeljko is the holder of the HDZ list for Herzegovina-Neretva canton/county. It follows from this that, in case he is elected (and there is every chance that he will), Zeljko will be in a conflict of interest.
He confirmed for Inforadar that he is ready to leave his current position if he is elected from the list.
“If I am directly or indirectly elected to one of the positions in the government bodies in the General Elections, I will definitely act in accordance with the legal provisions regarding the regulation of my labour-legal status,” said Zeljko.
Zeljko joined the management of the Terminal as an adviser to the former Speaker of the House of Peoples of the FBiH Parliament Lidija Bradara. For him, the position of Bradara’s advisor was his first work experience, after which he was appointed acting member of the Management Board in the company Operator – Terminals of the Federation. Zeljko did not go through the competition procedure for this position because he was temporarily appointed for a year, so there were no criteria for his employment.
In March of last year, the FBiH Government gave consent to the Assembly of the Operator – Terminali BiH Company to make a decision on the awarding of awards to members of the company’s management. With that decision, Zeljko was rewarded with two average monthly net salaries paid in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the previous calendar year and, as stated, “for exceptional business results”.
The operator – Terminali Federacije d.o.o., Sarajevo received a negative rating from the federal auditors for financial statements in the last year. However, despite the negative evaluation, members of the board, such as Slaven Zeljko, were rewarded.
ALJOVIĆ WAS ALREADY IN A CONFLICT OF INTEREST
The non-governmental organization Centers of Civil Initiatives (CCI) once, advocating for the depoliticization of public enterprises, responded to the decision to award awards to members of the Terminal’s management.
“A review of the business results of the mentioned company shows that the ‘exceptional results’ are actually losses, for which someone should be responsible, and not rewarded,” the CCI pointed out at the time.
Hamed Aljović is a candidate for the SDA election list for the Sarajevo Canton Assembly. This SKS representative was already in a conflict of interest because his company SD Limuzin received significant incentives for economic development from the cantonal government. Thus, in October 2020, the Ministry of Economy of the KS decided to “incentivize” Aljović’s company with 10,000 KM, while incentives for other companies, from the same Decision, amounted to 500 to 4,000 KM.
So, Aljović is a representative in the Assembly that voted on the budget from which he was allocated money.
The Inforadar source says that this member of the SDA in the SKS entered the SDP list from the last place and immediately after accepting the mandate he transferred to the SDA. Then, in 2018, he entered the KS Assembly from the SDA list. It is interesting that in the akta.ba register Aljović is listed as the owner of the company, while on the CEC website in the form “Declaration of the assets of an elected member of the government”, the company is not listed as part of the property owned by Aljović in 2017.
It remains to be seen whether Hamed Aljović will register his company in the declaration of assets – which he is obliged to do within 15 days of accepting his candidacy for the elections. However, the public needs to draw attention to this because this SDA cadre was already in a conflict of interest.
Although they were given the opportunity, neither Aljović nor Đajić, Čomić and Petrović, who are in a direct conflict of interest, did not answer Inforadar’s questions.