The Ministry of Energy and Mining of Republika Srpska, headed by Minister Petar Đokić, without any legal basis, established a monopoly in the field of pressure equipment control in order to award this lucrative job to two companies whose owners are close to the authorities and the Prime Minister of Srpska Radovan Višković.
The exclusive job of inspecting and testing pressure equipment was given to the companies “EIB Internationale” and “Centar AI” from Banja Luka.
Their owners are Drago Talijan and the dean of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Banja Luka, Aleksandar Milašinović, otherwise, a good friend of Prime Minister Višković, as he called himself defending himself against accusations of another, also questioned the joint work of controlling all technical inspections in Srpska. CAPITAL wrote about that in the text “Vlada mu dala državna ovlašćenja, on Viškovićevom sinu prepisao pola firme” (Translation: “The government gave him state authorizations, he transferred half of the company to Višković’s son”).
Other “friendly business”
Pressure equipment is used in numerous plants in Srpska, such as refineries, breweries, gas stations, power plants and the like. These are mainly various vessels, bottles, pipelines, compressors, tanks and reservoirs that make the pressure very dangerous for people and the environment, which is why they are periodically subject to strict controls. It is sorted and laboratory tested.
Until last year, the inspection of equipment and technical supervision was performed by the Technical Inspection of the Inspectorate of the Republika Srpska, and it did not charge for that.
However, with the adoption of the new Law on Inspections of the Republika Srpska in 2020, this double role of technical inspector is not allowed. Namely, the Rulebook on inspections of pressure equipment during its service life, which is harmonized with the European directive that BiH must implement, stipulates that inspections of pressure equipment are performed by appointed bodies by the Minister, while technical inspection retains the function of supervision.
In October 2020, Đokić’s Ministry issued a public call requesting a body for assessing the conformity of pressure equipment, a body for permanent joints, a body for assessing the conformity of simple pressure vessels, a body for classifying pressure equipment, and an authorized laboratory for testing and adjusting safety pressure equipment devices.
According to a source from CAPITAL, the conditions that were required at that time only went in favour of Talijan and Milašinović, so it was not a big surprise when they in the end got the job.
As one of the proofs for his claim, our interlocutor points out that in the public call for the classification of pressure equipment, accreditation was requested, which is not foreseen by any act.
Also, potential candidates were required to have software for sorting equipment, which again is not mentioned anywhere in the Law, nor in the bylaws that the ministry referred to when announcing the call.
As “EIB Internationale” and “Centar AI” were the only ones that meet these conditions, Minister Đokić issued them Decisions at the end of 2020 appointing them as competent bodies for a period of five years.
Instead of healthy competition – monopoly and too high prices
By establishing a monopoly, the Ministry has prevented competition in the market, which would certainly affect the cost of controlling equipment to be significantly lower.
“EIB Internationale” and “AI Center” were not satisfied with the exclusivity, but used it to raise the price. After receiving the Decision, Talijan and Milašinović sent a price list to all companies that use pressure equipment, which are obliged to be periodically inspected, with tariffs that, in the opinion of many CAPITAL interlocutors, are unjustifiably high.
The consent to the new price list was also given by Minister Đokić, which is also disputable, because it is not a practice in other countries.
The value of this business is shown by the invoice of 700,000 KM that only one thermal power plant in Srpska was issued, based on the control of pressure equipment.
The court confirmed the illegalities: Killing the competition
The court confirmed everything – it is not only in the domain of stories and unfounded accusations.
The CAPITAL portal came into possession of a verdict of the District Court in Banja Luka that the entire process of choosing the company of Viskovic’s “good friend” was illegal.
It was determined that the Ministry was not allowed to conduct a public call at all, but it was necessary to determine the conditions, and then to appoint all those who meet them, and submit a request and express interest, as a body in the field of pressure equipment.
The procedure should have been conducted in accordance with the Law on Technical Regulations and the Decree defining the manner of appointment, where a public announcement conducted by the Ministry does not exist at all as an instrument by which someone can be appointed.
“It does not follow from the provisions of the Law and the Decree that the Ministry of Energy and Mining can announce a public announcement, nor set deadlines for submitting requests, which the plaintiff rightly points out in the lawsuit. The law and the Decree do not prescribe the publication of a public announcement, nor do they set deadlines for submitting requests, so it can be reasonably concluded that the defendant incorrectly conducted the appointment procedure, which is why the plaintiff’s lawsuit should have been upheld. “
In addition to the fact that they conducted the procedure without any need or basis, they continued with irregularities throughout it, so they automatically disqualified the candidates in case of incomplete documentation, leaving them no opportunity to complete it.
“The defendant significantly violated the rules of procedure because the prosecutor’s request was not decided by a decision, nor did he invite him to supplement the documentation in accordance with the Law on Administrative Procedure, which in the opinion of this court he was obliged to do. If the plaintiff had incomplete documentation, the defendant was obliged to invite the plaintiff to supplement it within a certain period of time before issuing a decision in accordance with the law, with a warning about the consequences of failure to act “, the Court is clear in its verdict
The verdict also annulled the Notice stating that “EIB Internationale” and “Centar AI” had been appointed as inspection bodies.
Đokić: We were in a hurry
Đokić’s Ministry was given a period of 30 days to correct the illegalities, taking into account the court’s remarks regarding the procedure.
The deadline is in the next few days. However, we were unable to find out what their plan was, and whether and what they undertook.
We have been waiting for answers to our questions for weeks. The Public Relations Officer has been telling us for days that the answers are ready and that we are just waiting for the signature and approval of the Minister, but in the end, we did not get them.
They could not ignore the court, so they justified themselves in the procedure by saying that they were in a hurry, and that they could not wait for the parties to report themselves. Although they created an obvious monopoly, they claim to be guided by the principle of economy.
“The deadline for the appointment of these bodies was April 30, 2021, so respecting the principles of efficiency, economy, protection of party rights and protection of public interest, a public announcement was announced, believing that in a public and transparent manner for all companies in this area competent authorities in this area, without waiting for the requests of the parties for the appointments in question “, they justified themselves.
“It is more profitable to buy a new one than to pay for a review”
By the way, the idea of the Ministry to regulate the area of pressure equipment in this way caused a real revolt among businessmen, and everything culminated when they saw the price list.
“The prices are such that it is more cost-effective to buy and change certain equipment than to send it for testing. Whoever did this did not wish well on the economy of Republika Srpska”, one of the businessmen told us.
Representatives of the largest companies in Srpska did not hide their disappointment even at the meeting held in April last year at the Chamber of Commerce of Republika Srpska.
Members of the Group for Trade in Oil and Petroleum Products were especially indignant, asking Minister Đokić to urgently resolve the situation.
In their letter, which CAPITAL also had access to, they state that they are facing a huge increase in the prices of services by the designated bodies.
“The price is significantly higher than the price paid by the distributors until the appointment of the body, and it is important to note that there is no real justification for increasing the prices of inspections and tests. We also point out that distributors do not have a choice in terms of designated bodies, which certainly affects the competitiveness of the market and the very issue of pricing of designated bodies”, they said.
They also warned that monopoly prices will greatly affect business, especially during the crisis caused by the pandemic, which in turn may affect the price of fuel, and thus the costs of industry and the economy.
“We are asking for the appointment of a number of bodies in the field of pressure equipment that will be authorized to test the pressure area so that it will be possible to price in accordance with the actual market value of testing services”, was one of their demands.
As confirmed to us, Milašinović and Talijan relented and adjusted the price list after the meeting, but not to a significant extent.
You can see the first price list from December 2020 HERE, and the corrected ones from April last year HERE.
On the other hand, the Ministry remained of the opinion that only the two of them, ie their companies, should perform these tasks.
Mechanical engineer Dragan Tadić, who was elected to the working group after the meeting in the chamber, which has the task of reviewing the price list, says for CAPITAL that the practice in European countries is that there must be public competition in the field of pressure equipment.
“Over there, there are certain conditions that the inspection body must meet, but without a monopoly. Here, certain individuals got everything through the back door”, he says.
He agrees that the area of pressure equipment needed to be regulated in accordance with European Union directives, but the Republika Srpska government did so in a completely wrong way.
Centar AI: We are strict, that’s why we bother many.
The “Centar za automobilsko inženjerstvo” (translation: Center for Automotive Engineering) claims that the price list is based on real costs and formed on the basis of accreditations and licenses, purchased equipment.
“The final price includes an inspection of the equipment at the user, recording the equipment in the Register owned by the ministry and issuing an audit and record sheet. During the formation of the price list, we consulted with the appointed bodies from Serbia, Croatia and inspectors from FBiH “, they state.
According to them, the situation on the ground shows that certain equipment under pressure has not been inspected for years, which, in their opinion, suited individuals.
“The inspection body of the ‘Centar AI’ insists on an actual inspection of the equipment at the user, which does not suit some, because so far this has not been the practice. Some users of pressure equipment are asking to be issued Records and Audit Sheets without inspection, which we, as a serious company, cannot allow,” the Center for Automotive Engineering said.
The owner of the company “Eib Internationale”, Drago Talijan, refused to talk to our portal on this topic.