A CONJUCTION OF POLITICS AND PRIVATE ENTITIES: Citizens paid eco-test seven times more than they should have?!

Fokus.ba reveals the scheme of the authorities and private entities: The illegal rulebook, which raises the price of eco-tests from 5 to 22, i.e. to BAM 36, is still in force. Nikšić's government “tolerates” the controversial price list of Novalić's government

The fact that the conjunction of politics and (private) capital continues to dictate numerous processes in the FBiH, and that it is stronger than the public interest, is best illustrated by the process of vehicle registration and technical inspection.

Tens of millions of BAM have been taken from citizens over the past years contrary to the existing regulations. Fokus.ba collected a series of blatant data and have tried to break down the entire politics- private entities- government scheme into factors.

Citizens who registered their vehicles at technical inspection stations on the territory of the Federation of BiH during the last year paid seven times more for the mandatory eco-test for the registration of every vehicle, namely instead of paying BAM 3.436.325 the citizens paid BAM 22.973.530, learns Fokus.ba.

Kalkulator BIHAMK-a: Cijena eko testa za dizelaša

Without a public call

The difference of astonishing BAM 19.537.205 went to the private technical inspection stations, 180 of them currently, as well as to the companies in charge of monitoring these revenues, which were chosen by the FBiH Government without a public call back in 2012.

This mega profit was made possible by the controversial Rulebook on testing of the gaseous emissions from motor vehicles, which was passed in 2017 by the former Minister of Transport and Communications of FBiH Denis Lasić (HDZ BiH). According to that Rulebook, the price of the eco-test was raised from BAM 5, which is prescribed by the state regulation (the same price in the RS), to BAM 22 (for petrol vehicles) and BAM 36 (for diesel vehicles) in the Federation. Eco-test is also charged for natural gas vehicles, where fuel with less favorable emission is used.

Faksimil dijela spornog pravilnika cjenovnik i procenti

The aforementioned Rulebook was adopted despite the warning of the Office for Legislation of the Government of FBiH that the hierarchy of regulations, namely the rulebook that was in force at the BiH level, had to be respected. Furthermore, the BiH Ministry of Communications and Transport had in 2022, during the mandate of Minister Vojin Mitrović (SNSD), asked Minister Lasić and the FBiH Government to consider the price of the eco-test with the explanation that the Law on Road Traffic Safety in BiH is being violated.

However, just like the previous one, the current Government of FBiH headed by Prime Minister Nermin Nikšić, which was formed on May 3, 2023, has decided to “tolerate” the controversial Rulebook for more than nine months.

SDP kept quiet

It did so although SDP, whose president is Nikšić, had in 2018 publicly demanded as an opposition party to have this Rulebook repealed, claiming that it is illegal. They had asked the then Prime Minister Fadil Novalić (SDA) to dismiss Lasić, and, they said that they would file criminal complaints if he did not do so. SDP has been keeping quiet about this issue after it became a ruling party in FBiH. The statistics, which speaks of mega profit making in this area, partially gives us an answer to the question: Why?

The Federation Bureau of Statistics had in mid-February announced that a total of 740.100 vehicles were registered in 2023, which is 4.5 percent more than in 2022, when a total of 708.299 vehicles were registered.

This includes 636.862 passenger vehicles using petrol (117.639), diesel (505.989) and gas (13.234). There were 47.722 trucks (petrol – 1.715, diesel – 45.273, gas – 734), and 2.681 buses (diesel – 2.488, gas – 193). It is on the basis of these figures that we calculated the total revenues for the eco-tests in 2023, which we have given at the beginning of this text.

In addition, the profit of almost BAM 23 million, paid by the citizens of FBiH for the eco-test last year alone, was distributed in an incredible ratio. Namely, 90 percent of that money went to the technical inspection stations, 8 percent was taken by three companies authorized by the FBiH Government to supervise the technical inspection stations, and the FBiH and the canton in which the technical inspection station is located received only one percent each.

The FBiH Government (then also headed by Nikšić) had at the session held on March 15, 2012 chosen the companies Mervik from Sarajevo, Centar motor from Široki Brijeg and the Institute for Economic Engineering (IPI) from Zenica as professional institutions and had transferred public authority concerning the operations of the technical inspection stations to them.

Faksimil odluke Nikšićeve vlade iz 2012. o prenosu ovlaštenja na tri firme

This was the decision in which the distribution of collected revenues was defined, so that 40 percent went to Mervik, 40 percent to the Institute of Economic Engineering, and 20 percent to the Motor Centar.

At the session held on June 18, 2015, the government of Fadil Novalić decided to conclude a new contract, but with the same companies, changing only the “cake” distribution ratio. Thus, Centar motor and IPI each received 34.5 percent, and Mervik 31 percent of the revenue.

Faksimil Odluke Novalićeve vlade iz 2015. o prenosu ovlaštenja na tri firme

Auditors’ warning

The Office for audit of the FBiH institutions said for Fokus that the procedure of selection and award of these jobs to the mentioned legal entities hasn’t been done transparently and in line with the defined procedures.

– These jobs are continuously performed by the same companies. The only thing that changed in the past period was the structure of the distribution of funds. The Ministry neither initiated nor undertook any activities in the past period to assume these tasks conferred to it, although the FBiH Law on road transport was adopted in 2006. Considering this fact, as well as the annual income of the professional institutions, we have thought that it would be far more rational and efficient, as well as more transparent and appropriate, for the Ministry to assume these tasks, since it could be fully financed only by funds collected on these grounds – said the Audit Office.

Denis Lasić from HDZ was replaced by his party colleague Andrijana Katić as head of the FBiH Ministry of Transport and Communications. She hasn’t taken a single step in the past nine months to amend the contested Rulebook.

One of the reasons lies in the following fact: According to the aforementioned contested Rulebook, the company Centar motor from Široki Brijeg was entrusted with managing the information system for the eco-test. This company also determines the amounts for the distribution of eco-test revenues and is the only one with insight into this system.

Centar motor in Široki Brijeg was founded by the influential Ševo family. Some members of this family are HDZ BiH officials. One of them is Milan Ševo, who was once the director of the Center. He is the current HDZ representative in the Assembly of West Herzegovina Canton, as well as a delegate in the House of Peoples of the FBiH Parliament. HDZ BiH party has published lists of their officials on its website. When it comes to the Federation level, Milan Ševo and Minister Andrijana Katić, among others, are also on the list.

Stranica HDZ BiH: Dužnosnici Andrijana Katić i Milan Ševo

We also wanted to hear the other side

Fokus.ba has officially sent to the minister i.e. her office a series of questions about the mentioned Rulebook, but we did not receive any answers by the time this text was completed. We have also tried to get the stance of the Prime Minister Nikšić on several occasions, through the Press Service of the Government and his Office, but haven’t been successful.

We have also sent inquiries to the companies Centar motor, IPI and Mervik. We asked them, inter alia, about the ownership structure. We received an answer from Mervik only .

– One portion of your questions fall under the trade secret, while the other portion of the questions is under the legislator's competence. What we can say is that Mervik d.o.o. did not participate in any activities related to the eco-test during technical inspections of vehicles – said from Mervik.

According to CIN’s reports from 2021, the company Testing Center, which already had dozens of technical inspection stations, came into the possession of Centar Motor in 2013, and after several other owners, Ivan Kožul, another member of HDZ BiH, came into its possession in 2020. At that time, it owned 35 technical inspection stations.

Podaci o vlasništvu firme Testing centar

In July of 2021 the Testing Center was sold to Asa Assistance, which today has around 60 technical inspection stations. Big players when it comes to the ownership of technical inspection stations are Agram, Autocentar BH, Remis and several others.

The Office for the Audit of Institutions said for our portal that the same rulebook, as well as the price list of services and the revenue distribution is still in force and there haven’t been any changes and amendments to it.

Faksimil nalaza revizora o eko testu

–The Road Transport Sector, which is responsible for the operation of technical inspection stations in the Federation of BiH, had in previous year prepared six models that would comply with the recommendations of the Audit Office. However, the minister did not approve the variant that would be accepted and implemented. The Ministry stated that, in accordance with the European directives in this area, which are also implemented in the surrounding countries (Croatia and Serbia), by comparison, the price of this test together with the technical inspection in Serbia, which, like Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a country outside the European Union, is approx. BAM 102 – said the Office for audit of institutions for Fokus.

A member of the House of Representatives of the FBiH Parliament, Admir Čavalić, told Fokus that certain interest groups always try to use influence through the authorities as to satisfy private interests in the long term.

– It is the same in this case. This is not a market practice where they would have free price formation and competition. No, here we are talking about an obligation prescribed by the entity, which is subsequently modeled in terms of price and competition for the sake of several private companies. This is why it is a classic abuse of public interest, and it is clear to me why this is being raised as an issue for several years now. We are talking about several tens of millions of convertible marks of money paid. Therefore, I will send an urgency letter and an initiative to the Government of FBiH, the relevant ministry, but also to the BiH Ministry of Communications and Transport of BiH, in order for this issue to be addressed and ultimately resolved. – said Čavalić.

Infografika: Fokus.ba




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