The impeached chief says that everything is in accordance with the law: what is controversial about me assigning the land to my son-in-law?
Written by: Slađan Tomić
At the beginning of autumn last year, on September 27, 2022, to be exact. The municipality of Bratunac concluded an agreement with the company “ECO PRODUCT” on the lease of land within the industrial zone in the locality “Ciglana” with a total area of 5,474 m2. The contract was concluded for 20 years starting on October 1, 2022. The municipality was represented by the then mayor Srđan Rankić, and the company “ECO PRODUCT” was represented by Rankić’s son-in-law Milovan Bojić.
The contract defines that the land will be used exclusively for the construction of two solar power plants, and the total annual rent is 1,642.20 KM.
Land lease agreement
However, this contract is disputed from several aspects: the mayor leases land to a member of the extended family, without the consent of the local assembly and without the consent of the Attorney General of Republika Srpska.
The Assembly of the Municipality of Bratunac thus, at the session held on 29.12.2022. passed a conclusion stating that the Assembly did not give consent for the lease of land even though it is a legal obligation.
“It is established that there is no consent of the Bratunac Municipal Assembly to the conclusion of the Agreement on the lease of land within the industrial zone at the location “Ciglana” number 02-020-325/22 dated 09/27/2022, concluded between the municipality of Bratunac, as lessor, represented by the then mayor Srđan Rankić and DOO “ECO PRODUCT” Srebrenica, as lessee, represented by director Milovan Bojić. Accordingly, the aforementioned contract is in contradiction with Article 39, paragraph 2, item 13 of the Law on Local Self-Government of the RS, which stipulates that the assembly of the local self-government unit decides on the acquisition, management and disposal of the property of the local self-government unit”, it is stated in the Conclusion.
Conclusion of the Bratunac Municipal Assembly
Also, according to the Statute of the municipality of Bratunac, the mayor concludes contracts on behalf of the municipality in accordance with the acts of the assembly and in accordance with the law.
It is clear that the mayor did not ask for the approval of the assembly, and in the contract that is in the possession of the Spin.info portal, it is evident that the mayor does not refer to the decision of the assembly on the allocation of the mentioned land, but to the Decision from 2014 on the amount of rent for land within industrial zones.
The former or impeached mayor of Bratunac, Srđan Rankić, tells Spin.info that it is not true that he broke the law. He does not dispute that he did not have the specific consent of the Assembly.
“From an earlier period, the Bratunac Municipal Assembly adopted a rulebook on the basis of which interested legal entities can work, and perform their registered economic activities on the territory of the Bratunac municipality with the possibility of leasing land. This rulebook defines all conditions that must be met in order to be able to conclude a contract. It is about a lease, it is not about the alienation of property, so their (Municipal Assembly’s) position regarding this is unfounded and is contrary to the rulebook that the same assembly passed. The deadline, the price, and all other conditions have been defined”, says Rankić.
But the employee of the Assembly, who demands identity protection, says that the rulebook was never adopted.
“The regulation does not exist because it once existed in a draft, perhaps around 2012. The rulebook was never published and never entered into force”, an employee of the Bratunac Municipal Assembly told Spin.info.
Rankić: If someone is a relative of mine they need to move out of Bratunac?
Rankić, representing the municipality of Bratunac, signed the contract with his sister’s husband. This is not disputed by him. When asked if the director of the company “ECO PRODUCT” is his son-in-law, he says:
“Yes. But I don’t see what’s controversial here. If someone is related to me, they can’t do anything? Should he move out of Bratunac? I don’t know what the problem is. People do that. They are engaged in these activities. He was not the only one with his company to submit a request. There were also requests from other business entities and people who want to work on the territory of the municipality of Bratunac. Who want to invest. I don’t see anything controversial there. We are not looking at anyone individually, we are looking at a business entity that is registered on the territory of the municipality of Bratunac, that regularly settles its obligations, pays taxes. I don’t see anything controversial about that. I really don’t see anything controversial that someone leased 2.3 thousand square meters of land and pays the municipality. Anyone who shows up and says they want to invest, create new jobs, I don’t think anyone should dispute that.”
Attorney’s office: The chief was not allowed to sign the contract
Rankić is denied by the Republic’s Attorney’s Office, which, interpreting the Law on Local Self-Government of Republika Srpska, is of the opinion that Rankić should not have signed the land lease agreement without the specific decision of the Assembly, which is certainly not the decision from 2014 that Rankić refers to in the contract itself. According to the Law on the Office of the Attorney General of Republika Srpska, Rankić was obliged to send the draft of the land lease contract to the Office of the Attorney General for inspection and opinion after obtaining the consent of the Municipal Assembly.
“By inspecting the records of this office of the Deputy Attorney General of Republika Srpska, we determined that the aforementioned contract was never submitted to this office of the Deputy Attorney General of Republika Srpska, for an opinion, in the sense of provision 16 of the Law on the Office of the Attorney General of Republika Srpska”, they state from the office of the Deputy Attorney General in Vlasenica.
RS Attorney’s Office
They also say that the entire procedure was non-transparent and that other legal entities were not allowed to participate in the leasing of the mentioned land in the same way.
However, Rankić does not give up the claim that the rulebook is sufficient for him, which the Assembly that adopts it claims never entered into force.
“The Office of the Defender of Rights previously agreed to such a regulation. It has been confirmed, contracts are signed on the basis of this rulebook. And it’s not just one contract. There are people who operate in kiosks, which require 10, 20 square meters of land with which a lease agreement is concluded, and based on that, they cannot continue to do these activities”, says Rankić.
What is the activity of the company “ECO PRODUCT”?
The Office of the Attorney General claims that Rankić did not respect procedures and laws. And they wonder if “ECO PRODUCT” has all the permits for the production of electricity.
In addition, our interlocutor from the Bratunac Assembly says that this company has nothing to do with the production of solar electricity.
“As for the company “ECO PRODUCT”, according to the documentation we found, that company is engaged in the production of tires. By recycling tires and manufacturing tires, it does not have a license for the production of solar electricity at all, as stated in the contract. The contract, I repeat, was given without the prior consent of the Bratunac SO. Nor was the consent of the Attorney General’s Office given. So, here we skipped those two very important legal provisions. To make matters worse, the contract was given for a period of 20 years, without the possibility of unilateral termination in a period of 15 years”, an employee of the Bratunac Assembly told Spin.info.
And the data of the Akta.ba business portal show that the registered activity of the mentioned company is the production of other rubber products.
Due to all of the above, the Office of the Attorney General is of the opinion that there is a basis for initiating a court case and cancelling the contract.
“There is a legal basis for initiating litigation, that is, filing a lawsuit with the competent court in order to determine the nullity of the Agreement on the lease of land within the industrial zone at the location ‘Ciglana’. The nullity of the contract is prescribed by the provisions of the Law on Obligations, which stipulates that a contract that is contrary to compulsory regulations, public order or good customs is null and void, and the same can be requested by each of the contracting parties as well as by any interested party and that the right to assert nullity is not void”, are opinions from the headquarters of the deputy of the Republic’s Ombudsperson.
Five criminal charges have been filed
While waiting for the Republic’s Attorney’s Office to start the battle to terminate the contract, the municipal administration has already started filing criminal charges.
“Two criminal reports were filed regarding Ciglana, one for Bjelovac, and one filed in connection with the furnishing of the former Municipality building because an invoice was signed that we received goods worth about 400,000 KM. In the Municipality building, many invoiced goods are missing. The goods do not match the dimensions, with the description stated in the invoice in the contract that we have locked. Another criminal complaint was filed against the former mayor due to a gift contract with a company from Podgorica where the municipality of Bratunac paid 3,300 euros for transportation and shipping costs for three children’s playgrounds in Bratunac a year and a half ago. That company from Podgorica never responded to our calls, emails, nor did they deliver the goods“, says a Spin.info source from the Bratunac Municipal Assembly.
The law is clear, and it defines that the Assembly makes decisions on the acquisition, management, and disposal of the property of the local self-government unit. In this case, the impeached mayor of the municipality of Bratunac allocated the land without a decision of the competent body of the local self-government unit, to his son-in-law, which may not be formal, but it is essentially a conflict of interest. The rulebook referred to by the mayor, even if it was adopted, legally cannot be stronger than the law.