CORRUPTION IN THE FBiH PARLIAMENT: How MPs swindled the country by reporting bogus work in Sarajevo

Istraživački tim Inforadara
Autor 25.4.2022. u 08:48

CORRUPTION IN THE FBiH PARLIAMENT: How MPs swindled the country by reporting bogus work in Sarajevo

Photo: Armin Durgut/PIXSELL

After all the experiences, the reaction of the police and prosecutorial institutions is uncertain, which should determine the serious abuses in the highest legislative institution in the Federation of BiH. Exactly how many MPs and delegates abused their office by taking money for something they were not allowed to do – and how long they did it, we will hardly ever find out

Author: InfoRadar

Inforadar research team

 

Although not a single session of the House of Representatives of the Federation BiH Parliament was held in February this year, Inforadar finds out, which was confirmed to us from several addresses and through contacts with several parliamentarians, that most MPs duly filled out their shift lists, saying that they’ve spent eight hours a day at work in Sarajevo.

In this way, the federal deputies severely abused their parliamentary functions and, by their own example, turned the Federation Parliament, as the highest legislative body in this entity, into a corrupt institution.

LIE LIE LIE TO ME

Out of a total of 98 federal MPs in the House of Representatives, 84 have professionalized their status. 66 of them live outside Sarajevo, and 51 deputies take money for a separate life. On a monthly basis, 51 of them collect 15,300 KM from BiH taxpayers.

So, most of them took money for a hot meal, a separate life, “confirming” with a signature that they worked eight hours a day – and in Sarajevo (according to unconfirmed information, almost everyone did it!). Simply put, and which formally follows from the response of the administration of the Parliament of the Federation of BiH – almost everyone agreed, thus committing a corrupt act and abusing their position.

For example, we take February, in which there were no parliamentary activities, because that month, in accordance with the Decision on keeping records of the presence of MPs and advisers at work, was binding for the accuracy of data on the activities of 84 professional MPs.

This Decision was made on January 18, 2022, based on the findings and recommendations from audits conducted in previous years of the FBiH Parliament, by the Administrative Commission of the House of Representatives of the FBiH Parliament.

Foto: Faksimil Odluke o vođenju evidencije poslanika na poslu

Photo: Facsimile Decisions on keeping records of deputies at work

The decision defines the manner of keeping the shift list, where each representative and advisor is in charge of keeping and signing the list for each month and submitting it to the Accounting Service by the 25th of the month for the current month. The Decision points out that, if the representatives and advisors do not submit the shift list in accordance with the regulations, the fees paid based on attendance at work will not be calculated and paid (hot meal, transportation, accommodation costs and separate living).

The decision was signed by the President of the Administrative Commission Melika Mahmutbegović, a longtime SDA official, who has been the Vice President of the Federation of BiH since 2015 and at the same time a member of the Federation Parliament.

Melika Mahmutbegović (Foto: AA)

We remind you that, according to the research of the Tačno.net portal, it was Mahmutbegović who hid the ownership of two apartments in her property card, and that in addition to her own apartment in Sarajevo, she also uses the official one.

The FUP report notes that the 80-square-meter apartment in Skenderija Street, which Melika Mahmutbegović did not report on her property card, is under the full-time protection of members of the Federal Police Administration, although Mahmutbegović has not lived in it for seven years, but in the one awarded to her by the Government of FBiH.

This means that in the seven years of her political engagement in Sarajevo, literally 700,000 KM of FBiH citizens’ money was thrown away. The official apartment is located on Derviša Numića Street, where many official apartments of the federal government are under constant police protection.

Inspired by the fraud of the President of the Administrative Commission, the deputies submitted their lists as if they were working full time. This was indirectly confirmed to us in the answers we received from the Secretary of the Federal Parliament, which states that with the date 28.2.2022 all deputies (representatives) who exercise the right to separate life handed over the shift list and were duly paid all benefits.

“Representatives in the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Federation of BiH have the rights prescribed by the Law on Salaries and Remunerations in the authorities of the Federation of BiH, rights and obligations determined by the Rules of Procedure, and exercise them in accordance with general and individual acts of the legislature. Following the recommendations of the Office for Audit of Institutions of the FBiH, at the beginning of 2022, a number of internal acts were adopted by the competent working body in order to implement further recommendations. In the building of the Parliament of the Federation of BiH, the House of Representatives has space for the work of parliamentary clubs, so that MPs and those who use the separate living allowance have secured premises for the work of clubs and thus individual work in the Parliament of the Federation of BiH. Elected officials do not have records of entry / exit from the building,” the letter to Inforadar said.

ALARM AFTER “INFORADAR” QUESTIONS

The same day when the answer was sent to us was the final date of the “correction” of the submitted shift lists, and the deputies, internal correspondence, and as a consequence of our interest in this issue, were asked to “get serious”. Inforadar is in possession of that act.

Foto: Faksimil poziva upucenog

Photo: Facsimile calls or warns MPs to fill in the shift lists correctly, all after the beginning of Inforadar’s research

 

In the previous period, our portal sent questions to the addresses of 20 randomly elected deputies in the Federation Parliament about where they work eight hours a day, in Sarajevo or their place of residence, whether they filled the shift lists and what they think about the Audit Office’s recommendation and decision about keeping a record? We received only four answers, of which only one is from MPs living outside Sarajevo.

This is Mirsad Čamdžić from “Naša Stranka”. In response to Inforadar, he states that he is filling the shift list just for the sake of it, and that he “works a lot, even on weekends and holidays”.

“During my mandate, I spend half of my working time in Sarajevo, and the other half in Gracanica, Gradačac, Doboj Istok, Brčko. In Sarajevo, I participate in the work of commissions, meet with interested groups (businessmen, single mothers, fighters, environmentalists, energy sector, etc.), and visit panels on various topics. I am doing the same in my constituency.”

However, Čamdžić did not specifically answer how he filled out his list.

Foto: Mirsad Čamdžić

“I refused to fill in the shift list because it cannot reflect the true amount or timing of work. When sessions are held, we almost always work longer than eight hours, and everything outside of eight hours does not count “, the president of the SBB Club Sanela Prašović Gadžo pointed out for our portal.

“My colleague Irfan Čengić and I recently spent the whole weekend working on the Resolution of BHRT, and it is not possible to record that, so that it would be evaluated with a shift list.

Or, we didn’t have a session at all in February, so how did MPs work every day for eight hours? What were they doing? Where did they work? ”Gadžo Prašović wrote in response.

Foto: Sanela Prašović Gadžo

Due to not fulfilling the shift list, she was not paid for a hot meal. As she pointed out, she is of the opinion that a hot meal should not be paid for considering the amount of the salary and the number of sessions that are held.

“I think it was all set up wrong. For example, if an MP is from a place outside of Sarajevo and receives a separate living and accommodation allowance, and imagine that same MP writes that he works eight hours a day. And where does he work? The majority will assert on the ground with the citizens and the like, in their constituency. So how can they receive benefits for separate living and accommodation at the same time, which means that they do not work in the place of residence, but work in Sarajevo, and then fill in the shift list under full responsibility and write that they work for eight hours, which would mean that they worked in Sarajevo. This is simply not true in many cases. Honestly, I drew the attention of my colleagues to that and I also wondered if it is a criminal offence if inaccurate data is presented, signed responsibly and everything can result in the budget being damaged… But there are the Administrative Commission and the judiciary to assess. For all these reasons, I refused, as my colleagues said, “for the sake of form” to fill in the list because I have never lied or presented incorrect information in my life and I will not do that now either. ”

MPs Dženana Hodžić from the SDA and Sanela Klarić from Naša stranka, as well as Čamdžić and Prašović Gadžo, believe that the work of MPs is not exclusively related to the FBiH Parliament building.

Foto: Dženana Hodžić

“On the contrary, a lot of working time is “fieldwork” which is impossible to record, because then the provision related to the length of working time would be violated. Another problem with the records themselves is of an objective nature, because there is no physical possibility for each MP to physically own his or her own office, or even the possibility for several MPs to use one office. As for the shift list, it is binding for MPs, and it was prescribed by the working body of the Parliament, more precisely, the Administrative Commission, as a temporary measure until the adoption of amendments to the law that would specify everything, where the Audit Office could adequately and unburdened approach this issue. Therefore, in addition to the right to one’s own opinion and position, which I have already stated publicly at the Commission responsible for audit, there is also an obligation to respect the decisions of the competent bodies of the FBiH Parliament,” said Dženana Hodžić.

Sanela Klarić points out that the Office for Audit of Institutions in FBiH is guided by the law which says that the basis for calculating the salary of employees is recorded at work, and that law does not differentiate or respect the specifics of the workplace, as long as the Audit Office is justified.

Foto: Sanela Klarić

“It’s something else that the job of a representative is specific, it is not exclusively related to office work, but more to “field” work. The MP spends a lot of time working in the field, with citizens and in different locations, which is impossible to state in the work records because then we would violate the regulation on the maximum number of weekly hours. In addition to this, there is an objective problem due to the fact that in the building of the FBiH Parliament there is no physical space in which all MPs would stay, even if they could work like this. Therefore, the Law itself does not recognize the specifics of the profession, and filling in the records just to comply with the recommendation of the Audit Office brings us to an even more “serious” violation because the records are not in line with the real situation, which can cause countless complications, Klarić said.

WITHOUT A SPECIFIC RESPONSE TO CORRUPTION

The Audit Office, as well as the MPs, seems to care only about the form. They point out that “the audit is not an inspection but is performed on the basis of a sample and on the basis of submitted sufficient and adequate documentation in order to gain reasonable assurance that the financial statements are true and fair, and that activities and information are in accordance with laws and regulations.”

“In this case, the subject of the audit will be to determine whether the Decision on keeping records of the presence of representatives and advisers at work is consistently applied in order to establish internal controls, and whether there is appropriate documentation that is the basis for calculating salaries,” they said from the Office for Audit of Institutions of the Federation of BiH.

Thus, for example, this year’s shift list from February will be treated by the Office only next year.

“Personally, I explained to the Collegium of the House of Representatives that such a way of solving the problem of recording the working hours of deputies is not appropriate for several reasons. The work of an MP is not office work of eight hours a day and it is completely untrue and wrong to treat it in such a way. Personally, I work more than eight hours on many days, especially when I am in and out of Sarajevo. I also work on weekends because I am preparing materials for the session, and it is not possible to record that in that type of shift list. And the truth is that there are days when you work less than eight hours. To my direct question to colleagues who sit in the Collegium of the House of Representatives on how they intend to fill in the shift list to work eight hours every day when it is not completely true, for example, Adis Arapović explained that this is fine and that auditors explained to him that it is essential to fill out the form. Does that mean that it doesn’t matter if the deputies give false information and sign it? It is unacceptable to me personally”, points out Prašović Gadžo.

We remind you that one of the 20 addresses to which we sent questions was that of Adis Arapović, who did not feel the need or had the courage to admit outside the parliamentary benches that it was perfectly okay to give false information.

We did not receive an answer from the Administrative Commission of the House of Representatives of the Federation, probably aware that this is an abuse of official position, which according to our legislation is a criminal offence in the field of corruption.

It is difficult to expect a reaction from the citizens, even if almost 184,000 KM are spent annually on “separate lives”.

After all the experiences, the reactions of the police and prosecutorial institutions, which should establish serious abuses in the highest legislative institution in the Federation of BiH, are also uncertain.

Exactly how many MPs and delegates misused their office by taking money for something they shouldn’t and could not – and how long they did it, we will hardly know, because the Audit Office is not an “inspection”, although it is an easily identifiable abuse of office and the corrupt actions of federal parliamentarians.

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Istraživački tim Inforadara
Autor 25.4.2022. u 08:48