The idea of building a museum in Pale is at least ten years old. It has been a promise of every government, and the citizens of Pale, after so many years, only see the outlines of a future museum that has swallowed over half a million marks, a museum for which no one knows when it will be completed, nor how much it will cost the citizens of Pale.
Written by: Sanja Vasković
The Government of Republika Srpska approved 500,000 KM for the construction of the Museum of the Defensive-Homeland War in Pale as part of the priority projects from the Program of Public Investments in 2018.
The municipality only published a tender for the construction of the Museum in October 2019, specifically for the construction-architectural phase. The estimated value of the works is 512,820.51 marks (excluding VAT).
The notification emphasizes that the Ministry of Finance of Republika Srpska will provide 415,384.62 KM (excluding VAT), while the municipality of Pale will provide 97,435.90 KM (excluding VAT) for the construction of the museum.
Laying the cornerstone before the elections
Although the tender was announced at the end of 2019, the official start of construction work on the museum, following the old tradition, was timed just before the local elections in 2020, when the then-candidate for the municipality mayor Boško Jugović, the candidate for the mayor of the city of Istocno Sarajevo Ljubiša Ćosić, and the candidate for a member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik laid the cornerstone.
Although this contract cannot be found on the municipality’s website, the construction contract for the museum was awarded to the company “Građenje” doo from Pale, with a deadline for completion of four months.
Six months later, nothing has happened, and construction work on the museum was only intensified in 2021.
Museum, March 2021. The works were supposed to be completed by then, Source: Istinomjer
We asked the responsible authorities in the municipality of Pale, as well as the construction company “Građenje” doo, why the works were not completed within the designated deadline, but despite reminders and phone calls, we have not yet received a response.
However, according to information obtained by the SPIN Info portal from the field, work was carried out up to the amount of funds that were previously paid to the contractor. After that, the work was halted and the machinery was removed from the construction site. For a year now, no progress has been made on the museum construction, and the museum setup and planning remain uncertain.
The current works do not exceed 320,000 marks?
We visited the construction site in Pale with experts from the construction field.
According to their estimates, the costs of the current phase of the museum construction in Pale, objectively speaking, for the expenditure on construction materials and labour, range from 250,000 to 320,000 KM. It is important to note that the prices of construction materials at the time of construction were taken into consideration, without accounting for recent price increases. Since there are no information boards at the construction site, experts point out that detailed prices can only be provided by the contractor and the supervisory authority based on the construction book of completed works and materials used.
Museum, March 2023
Company “Građenje” doo receives millions from the budget
As previously mentioned, we have not received the requested information from the company “Građenje” doo.
Currently, the most significant capital projects in the City of Istocno Sarajevo are entrusted to the aforementioned company.
In September of last year, a contract was signed with the University of Istocno Sarajevo for the procurement of reconstruction works for the needs of the Rectorate and the Music Academy, with a value of 7,990,407 KM. The same company also carried out the adaptation of the facility of the Public Institution “Studentski Centar” Pale, worth 21,815 KM. A few days ago, a contract was signed with the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Republika Srpska for the construction of the building of the Police Administration of Istocno Sarajevo in Pale. The price has increased by nearly two million since last year, now amounting to 8,378,188 KM.
It is interesting that the aforementioned company was previously mentioned in one of the articles on the portal zurnal.info, at the beginning of last year, when Dragan Šojić, the director of the Service for Joint Affairs of the Institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who was accused of abusing his position or authority to damage the budget by approximately 42,000 marks, intended to give an additional two million KM to this company from Pale, in order to purchase another part of the building where he would accommodate officials. As a reminder, in 2018, a part of the building in Istocna Ilidža was purchased, and the approved million-dollar amount ended up in the account of the company “Građenje” owned by Zoran Popić, who, according to media reports, is extremely close to the SNSD.
As for the funds allocated by the municipality for these purposes, the Pale leadership only planned 40,000 marks for the construction of the museum in the budget for 2020, while in the realization of budget funds for 2021, 54,615 marks were mentioned as spent for these purposes. In 2022, an additional 50,000 marks are planned, but even to the layman, it is clear that it is not possible to complete the works with the additional 50,000 marks mentioned in the budget for this year. This raises questions about when the works will be completed, where additional funds
The Main Service for Public Sector Audit “accidentally” omitted data on funds spent for the Museum
The Main Service for Public Sector Audit of Republika Srpska has published the Performance Audit Report on the Construction and Maintenance of Cultural Facilities, which, among others, includes monitoring of the construction of the Museum in Pale.
“The longest duration of the second phase of project implementation pertains to the construction of the museum in Pale. As the project is unfinished and construction works are in the initial phase, the time calculated up to September 2022, the date of the last audit, amounted to 4.3 years. The majority of this time period relates to the first part, from securing funds to the commencement of works, during which initial operational and preparatory activities were carried out, including the development of conceptual and main projects, resolution of property and legal issues, selection of contractors, lasting for 2.4 years. The contracted works were completed within a year, in November 2021, but activities related to the contracting and implementation of subsequent phases of works were not realized. The report states that the delay in works on this project is due to the unresolved and insufficiently coordinated issue regarding the organization of the public institution of culture (JUK), its founder, other potential users of the facility, ownership of the facility, and its management”, it is stated in the report.
However, it is interesting that the report does not mention the funds allocated for these purposes, nor how they were spent, when it comes to the efficiency of fund utilization, while it is explained for other cultural institutions. A well-informed source from the municipality of Pale told us that the auditors were at least surprised when reviewing the financial reports of the municipality regarding this project. Given that the government was led by the SNSD (Alliance of Independent Social Democrats) both at the republic and municipal levels in this case, it is not surprising why this data has not been publicly disclosed.
Silence from the authorities, as well as from the opposition
The authorities often forget that they work in the public interest and are paid by the citizens and that they are accountable for every mark spent. In this case, the silence of the administration, specifically the authorities in the municipality of Pale led by Boško Jugović from SNSD (Alliance of Independent Social Democrats) for two mandates, could be understood, but the silence of the opposition to our questions about the construction of the Museum in Pale is becoming alarming, indicating that our society is slowly becoming one of uniformity or fear. The opposition in the Municipality Assembly of Pale, led by SDS (Social Democratic Party), has not provided us with promised answers to our questions, while the representatives of PDP (Party of Democratic Progress) recently left the party and do not speak up in public, and some of them have joined the government.
We asked the citizens of Pale for their comments on the multi-year construction of the museum, as well as the silence of those who represent them.
“As a citizen, I do not understand why the construction of the museum has not been completed for several years. The fighters and citizens of Pale deserve a Museum of the Defense-Patriotic War, where generations of young people and students could learn about the achievements of the war and the deserving fighters and their families who are almost forgotten categories, just like this museum. The municipality and the mayor have been making statements for years that they will strive to improve and complete something”, says our interlocutor, adding that the silence of the authorities is intentional due to the violation of deadlines and possibly laws, but the silence of the opposition is surprising considering they should work in the interest of the citizens and be a corrective to the government, especially when it comes to socially beneficial investments.
The authorities, opposition, contractors, and auditors – all are silent about how half a million budget funds have been spent on a project that was supposed to be completed in 2021 and is still in the initial phase. It is questionable how much additional funding will be needed for the continuation of the works due to such mismanagement of funds. As always, the citizens of Pale, as well as Republika Srpska, suffer the consequences.