“It truly is a beautiful feeling to be the first in something positive. You have to be proud when you know that there are people around you who are standing by your side, ready to confront the anomalies that have driven hundreds of thousands of people out of our country. I am proud to say that Banja Luka will truly be the first city in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina from which crime, corruption, and nepotism will be eradicated. We will prove that this is possible to implement in a local community, and when you prove that something is possible at one level, others are encouraged to do the same, and it can then become a common occurrence in our entire society, which is ultimately our main goal.”
These were the words of the mayor of Banja Luka, spoken to the portal Klix on March 27, 2021. Two years later, we are witnessing everything that the young mayor of Banja Luka promised to eliminate, perhaps in an even stronger manifestation.
The Infoveza portal presents evidence that supports the claim that the “business policy” of the city and Draško Stanivuković continues to operate on the basis of party membership, specifically that in tenders issued by the city of Banja Luka, you can win or be more “equal” if you have a membership card from the PDP.
Namely, the company “Top sport” from Bijeljina, owned by Miroslav Đukić from the same city, has been awarded almost all contracts related to the construction of children’s playgrounds and the renovation of sports halls in Banja Luka since Stanivuković took office, and the total value of contracts awarded to this company in the past year exceeds half a million marks! Đukić was, by the way, the PDP’s candidate for councillor in Bijeljina in the previous local elections. Interestingly, although most of the contracts were for tens to hundreds of thousands of marks, the contracts awarded to the company through direct agreements were set at the maximum possible value – 6,000 marks.
As we said, the most money of the company “Top sport” comes from the construction of children’s playgrounds and the rehabilitation of sports halls, and you can see several examples of lucrative jobs below.
However, the story doesn’t end here, and what is particularly noticeable is the latest contract that, according to our sources, this same company has been awarded, which concerns the construction of a tartan track in the “Mladen Stojanović” park in Banja Luka. The media reported that as part of the reconstruction of the “Mladen Stojanović” park, 1.2 kilometres of new tartan jogging track will be built. After the completion of the construction works, as stated, the finishing works will be carried out, and the new track, 1.85 metres wide, will be covered with tartan, that is, a certified elastic sports surface from a “renowned global manufacturer”.
Unofficially, our portal has learned that the cost per meter of tartan track will be four to five times higher than usual, and the price is over 400 KM (Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark) per meter! After contacting other companies in the same line of business, we received information that the cost of one meter of tartan surface, including installation and all other works, is around 85 KM.
Even greater doubts arise in the public when considering that the mentioned company participated in the construction of a similar track at the Pale stadium three years ago, and the track cracked in a very short period of time, causing general outrage among the local residents.
Milan Savanović, a member of the National Assembly of Republika Srpska from the Justice and Order List, confirmed our findings to Infoveza portal.
“I inquired and the actual cost of complete installation of tartan amounts to around 85 marks per square metre, and I received this information during the review of the situation and establishment of facts, when the architect from the city administration herself informed me that the cost of the surface being installed in the park is around 400 marks per square metre. It is completely illogical for the figure to be so high, even with the removal of the old surface and installation of a new one. In the end, I received a message from the city that they have found much cheaper bidders now”, says Savanović.
Damjan Ožegović from Transparency International Bosnia and Herzegovina explains that, according to the Law on Public Procurement, every contracting authority must take appropriate measures to effectively prevent, identify, and remove conflicts of interest related to the public procurement process, in order to avoid undermining market competition and ensure equal treatment of all bidders.
“The conflict of interest between the contracting authority and the bidder encompasses situations when representatives of the contracting authority, who are involved in the implementation of the public procurement procedure or can influence the outcome of that procedure, have a direct or indirect financial, economic, or any other personal interest that could be detrimental to their impartiality and independence within the procedure, while on the other hand, each bidder in the public procurement procedure is obliged to submit a separate certified statement with their bid that they have not offered bribes or engaged in any actions aimed at corruption in the respective public procurement”, explained Ožegović.
He claims that in addition to providing for the possibility of disqualification based on conflict of interest and corruption, as well as sanctions for such behaviour, it is important to note that the Criminal Code of Republika Srpska also provides for the possibility of imprisonment and fines if a bidder in a public procurement procedure submits a bid based on false information, engages in prohibited collusion with other bidders, or takes other unlawful actions with the intention of influencing the decision-making of the contracting authority at any stage of the public procurement procedure.
“However, in practice, we witness that even the threatened penalties are not sufficiently adequate to act preventively against potential future offenders and that sanctions are rarely imposed, resulting in frequent unlawful collusions between bidders or between bidders and contracting authorities in order to procure goods, works, or services that may not be of the highest quality, but at the highest possible price”, added Ožegović.
Interestingly, despite attempting to verify all our claims with the city administration and the mayor of Banja Luka, who often emphasises that he has introduced the principle of transparency in Banja Luka, we have not received any response from them even after two letters and urgent requests. Banja Luka has remained silent, so therefore, at least in this text, we will not hear the position of the city administration.