DISCRETIONARY RIGHT TO PUBLIC FUNDS: The BiH Council of Ministers as a drunken wedding party

The ministers are giving away money at the last minute and without any criteria. The list of “winners” include undertakers, NLP coaches, associations led by politicians, all kinds of animators, entertainers, amateur actors, even a director of a state agency. Top sportsmen and sportswomen never got around to getting rewarded with high figures by the state

Author: Rubina ČENGIĆ 

Close to four million BAM was distributed by the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina through grants on December 29 at a teleconference session that started at 15:40 hours via Viber message and ended at 16:15.

Some of the organizations that received these funds are linked to political parties that make up the ruling coalition, and some of them have neither a website nor a profile on social networks as a platform to present their activities or publish a work report.

Furthermore – this distribution of money was neither proceeded by a public call nor there were any publicly visible criteria.

Generous with Someone Else’s Money

Distribution of funds was done through adoption of two decisions – BAM 1.57 million for support to non-profit organizations engaged in the protection of human rights, gender equality; associations of persons with disabilities and support to religious communities at the proposal of the Ministry of human rights and refugees and BAM 2.23 million for support to non-profit organizations engaged in the sports, culture, health care, education, youth and humanitarian activities at the proposal of the Ministry of civil affairs.

Amounts distributed by both decisions ranged between BAM 5.000 and BAM 100.000.

Who got the money?

According to the decision on the distribution of BAM 1.57 million, the amount of BAM 50.000 or more was given to the Dawn Syndrome of Banjaluka, the Association Ponos Doboj, citizens’ association Persistence and economic development from Grapska Gornja, the Parish of St. Francis of Assisi Bila-Livno, Municipal organization Red Cross Istočna Ilidža, Vrhbosna Theological Seminary, Association Heart for Children with Cancer Sarajevo, Association for Prosperity Dobro – Livno, Red Cross of Republika Srpska, Mountain Rescue Service Jahorina, Rescue Service Wolf Foča, Association Pomozi.ba Sarajevo, Citizens Association La Transzmansadella Pace from Milići. According to the decision on the distribution of BAM 2.23 million, the amount of 50.000 BAM and more was given to FC Borac,  citizens’ association Alfa, citizens’ association Čajra Doboj,  citizens’ association Svjetiliča Doboj, Youth Cultural Center Abrašević Mostar, Association of Drama and Film Artists Jure and Mate, Serbian Singing Society Sloga Sarajevo, Center for Visual Arts, Oldtimers Association in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Water Sports Club Orka Mostar, FC Željezničar Sarajevo, Association for the Preservation of Cultural and Historical Heritage Don Juraj Gospodnetić Bosansko Grahovo, City Cultural and Artistic Society Bosna Tuzla, FC Troglav Livno, Kayak Canoe club Drina Zvornik, women’s basketball club Orlovi Banja Luka….

No website

Careful inspection of the data available on the Internet, since there is no information on the beneficiaries of these funds on the website of the BiH Council of Ministers, reveals that the citizens’ association Alfa from Kikač near Tuzla (50.000 BAM) does not have a website, the only way of contact is a mobile phone number without a corresponding name of person responsible.

The citizens’ association Čajra Doboj (90.000 BAM) has neither a website nor a contact phone number.

The association is headed by the local member of HDZ

Association Bijeli brijeg from Mostar (Association of domino players and social games, BAM 40.000) is headed by the president of the local HDZ BiH, Karlo Kačić.

Neither Google nor Facebook recognize the Association of Citizens  Svjetilića (BAM 95.000).

Barbalić’s association

It is interesting that the Association Institute for development and European integration Sarajevo is on the list of winners, and until January 2024 this association was headed by Ivan Barbalić, long-time employee of the BiH Ministry of foreign affairs.

Barbalić: The association that was led by him got the money just a few days before he was appointed director of a state Agency

Barbalić: The association that was led by him got the money just a few days before he was appointed director of a state Agency

Barbalić was the ambassador to the Russian Federation, and before that the permanent representative of BiH at the United Nations, and before that the extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassador and head of the Permanent Mission of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the UN. His previous positions were adviser to the Prime Minister of Canton Sarajevo, when that position was held by Edin Forto.

Barbalić’s wife is Stela Vasić, advisor to the Minister of Communications and Transport of BiH Edin Forto, and previously did the same job in the cabinet of the former Minister of Foreign Affairs Bisera Turković.

In January 2024, he was appointed director of the Agency for Labor and Employment of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The association received BAM 30.000 just a few days before his appointment.

Association of undertakers too

Beneficiaries include the Association Posavina Brod (BAM 20.000), which was founded in 2022,  the Association of Drama and Film Artists Jure and Mate (BAM 60.000); Association of undertakers Novo Rastovačko cemetery does not have any information available (BAM 40.000)…

The Eco Urban Center from Istočno Sarajevo (BAM 10.000) had in cooperation with the catering facility “Majstor za pivo” from Istočno Sarajevo organized a two-day  ecological-social-music event in 2023, so they also received BAM 20.000 from the member of the Presidency of BiH from RS Željka Cvijanović.

The Association Persistence and economic development from Grapska Gornja (BAM 50.000) has neither a website nor a profile on social networks, but they also received BAM 50.000 to support culture-related projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

A chance “for yourself”

The citizens’ association La Transumanza della Pace from Milići (BAM 95.000I has a website where there is a publication in English, without a date: The most important and current project is the construction of a dairy in the municipality of Milići, which is planned to be realized by the end of 2022. Every project, completed, implemented or planned, by the association “Transhumanca mira” has one ultimate goal, which is to provide the residents of not only the region, but the entire Bosnia and Herzegovina, a chance to stay and advance in the sector in which they find themselves.

Reiki masters and hospitality industry

One of the beneficiaries is Citizens’ Association Šestougao (BAM 30.000 ), which does not have a website or Facebook profile, and it can be only seen that they were founded in April 2023, there is no information about their activities except that the representatives are Cvjeta Jolić and Monika Stojić.

The NLP House of Energy (BAM 20.000 ) has a description of the activities on its website and information that the team consists of: Dr. Darko Cvetković, Janko Cvetković, Milena Cvetković and Milena Lopušina, who is presented as a master trainer, reiki master and consultant in the hospitality industry.

Both illogical and constituting abuse, but the vote was taken

For the sake of comparison, citizens’ association The path of Kindness Kiseljak, Association of Artists Zanat, KMF Metohija Gacko, Music Center Pavaroti Mostar, FC Omladinac Sanica, Boxing Club Mostra, Bosnian Cultural Circle Travnik, Vocal Group Viteški Akordi Vitez, Association Rock School Mostar, Bicycle club X Factory, Association Artis Sarajevo, folks ensemble Slavija and Men’s handball club Iskra received BAM 5.000 each.

The Secretariat of the BiH CoM say that the BiH Council of Minister has the discretionary right to give money.  There is a list of organization that did not receive grants on the website of the Ministry of civil affairs, but there are no award criteria.

Helez: The right thing

The Minister of Defense in the BiH Council of Ministers, Zukan Helez, says that he thinks that organizations sent requests during the year, and some were proposed by ministers.

Helez: There was also inconsistencies

Helez: There was also inconsistencies

– These are funds from current reserves that were not even intended for these purposes, but if we had not spent these funds from current reserves, the money would have been transferred to entities that have much larger budgets than the state, and you do not know how that money will be spent. For example, I proposed a Heart for children with cancer, one for Srebrenica, there was also Pomozi.ba, and I explained my proposals, and provided a written explanation. But I didn’t read all the proposals of other ministers, there was really a lot and the ministers did give some illogical proposals. I have later found out that there might have been some abuses, but if at least 50 percent of that money went where it really needs to be – I think we did a good thing – said Helez.

Korajlić: What about criteria?

The executive director of Transparency International in BiH, Ivana Korajlić, reminds that the Law on Conflict of Interest prohibits the BiH CoM of awarding money to the organizations in which ministers are founders or in positions where they make decisions, and to limit the amounts in case when it is possible to distribute the money.

Korajlić: Our research show that, in addition to the lack of criteria, in a large number of cases there is no monitoring of implementation or reporting.

– Budget reserves are spent at the discretion of the BiH Presidency and the Council of Ministers, and they have the right to do so, but there are no criteria on the basis of which this money is allocated. It would be interesting to know how many requests there were and who didn’t get it. Even if everyone won – there should be criteria for the selection of beneficiaries and for determining the amount of money allocated, there would have to be an obligation to submit a report on expenditure. Our researches show that, in addition to the lack of criteria, in a large number of cases there is no monitoring of implementation or reporting, and when the reports are submitted – they have so little information that it is not possible to assess whether the money was spent purposefully. If we compare this approach with the requirements of international donors when it comes to reports on activities implemented and results achieved – it is incomparable – said Korajlić.

BAM 50.000 for HIV and tuberculosis and BAM 80.000 for diaspora

Other decisions on the distribution of public money speak about the donor policy of the BiH Council of Ministers. On December 20, they made decisions to allocate BAM 3.1 million from the budget of the Ministry of Civil Affairs of BiH for Cofinancing of culture-related projects in BiH; 1.76 million from the Ministry of human rights and refugees, including BAM 40.000 for Roma education and BAM 80.000 for support to local self-government units for the implementation of the Policy on cooperation with diaspora; BAM 66.000 to support organizations of persons with disabilities; BAM 100.000 to support associations of national minorities, BAM 50.000 for associations of families of missing persons in BiH, BAM 80.000 for human rights organizations in order to promote human rights in BiH…

BAM 2.300 to Lana Pudar                             

At the beginning of December, the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina also awarded monetary prizes to meritorious and top athletes: Fikret Čaušević, Esad Durmišević, Nedžad Salkić, Ejub Mehmedović and Zikret Mahmić received 3.150 each as meritorious athletes; Refija Okić BAM 2.800, Tima Džebo 2.500; Zlatko Saračević 2.300, Mirza Hrustemović 2.150; Mehmed Čolić 2.000 and Đurđica Šišul 1.700 KM.

As to sportsmen/women Lana Pudar, Ismail Barlov, Ismet Godinjak, Ermin Jusufović, Jasmin Brkić, Elvis Šerifović, Adnan Manko, Asim Medić, Mirzet Duran, Sabahudin Delalić, Dževad Hamzić, Safet Alibašić, Armin Šehić, Edin Đino, Nizam Čančar and Stevan Crnobrnja got BAM 2.300 each.

Also, top sportsmen/women Dimitrije Savić, Lazar Miovčić, Abedin Mujezinović, Aleksandra Samardžić, Ada Avdagić, Elvedina Muzaferija, Anđela Samardžić, Faris Ibrahimpašić, Omar Bojčić, Vuk Ilić, Alma Tursunović, Ervin Bejdić, Larisa Cerić, Filip Živković, Dino Terzić, Ismail Zulfić and Rasim Redžić “were awarded with” BAM 2.000 each.

Fairs and colorful lies

A total of BAM 600.000 was allocated from the budget of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations to support organizers of fairs and other manifestations and activities in the country, and BAM 300.000  to support organizers of fairs and other manifestations and activities abroad. A total of BAM 1.34 million for co-financing sports events, BAM 390.000 for international cultural cooperation; BAM 117.000 for support of technical culture and innovation, and for projects of bilateral cooperation in the field of science based on international agreements BAM 100.000, and for co-financing projects of non-governmental organizations in the field of prevention of HIV, tuberculosis and addiction BAM 50.000.




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