The tender for the transportation of students in the municipality of Rudo caused a real stir, and the mentioned story has been going on since last year. One of the carriers claims that the tender was rigged from the beginning, that the owner of the company that was illegally awarded the contract is in a conflict of interest, and the whole case is currently in the hands of the court in Istočno Sarajevo.
A tender adapted to the member of the municipal assembly?
Namely, the companies “In turs” owned by Marko Novaković and “Javni prevoz” owned by Milovan Ćirović, also a member of the SNSD in the Rudo Municipality Assembly, applied for the tender that was announced last year for the transportation of students in the 2021/22 school year.
The terms of the tender often change and there is nothing wrong with that. The problem arises when the conditions begin to adjust to a politically more suitable candidate. The owner of the company “In turs” Marko Novaković claims that this is exactly what happened in his case.
“In previous years, two buses, which are not older than 15 years, were required, last year that item was dropped, and it was completely adapted to another candidate. Another problem is limiting the age of the license, which is not mentioned anywhere in the law”, Novaković told SPIN info.
Regardless of the tender conditions adapted to one of the bidders, after the e-auction, based on the criteria of the lowest offered price, the commission made a decision to award the contract to the company “In turs” with an offer of 59,800.00 KM excluding VAT. Councilor Ćirović’s company had a deadline of 15 days to file an appeal, but it was not submitted, so “In tours” could start working.
Novaković begins to perform his activities at the beginning of September, and only about ten days after the start of the school year up until September 10, 2021, when he received an email from the principal that the contract “Student transportation for the school year 2021/22” is being awarded to another company, that is, the company “Javni prevoz” without a specific explanation.
Despite the existing documentation that clearly indicates that the documents of Novaković’s company were valid, because he was awarded the tender, the Municipality of Rudo claims the opposite.
“Given that the first-ranked bidder did not submit the necessary documentation for signing the contract, after the end of the e-auction, the bid was awarded to the second bidder”, the Municipality of Rudo announced to our portal, without specifying which documentation was not submitted.
On the other hand, it is not clear to Novaković that possible irregularities were not identified during the e-auction before the tender was awarded to his company. The alleged problem was that the license was not older than five years, and Novaković says that Ćirović does not meet that requirement either because he registered the company in 2017. Please note that the owner of the company “In tours” was active for 10 days, before the disputed email, because the documentation was duly reviewed before the auction, and the commission concluded that everything was in order.
Political pressures from Councilor Ćirović and threats to overthrow the majority in the Rudo Municipality Assembly
The background of the whole story is most likely political pressure on the mayor of the Munisipality of Rudo, Dragoljub Bogdanović (SNSD), because as our interlocutor claims, Ćirović threatened the mayor that if he did not win the contested tender, the mayor would lose his parliamentary majority and be impeached.
To our question of whether he suffered political pressure from the aforementioned councillor, mayor Rudo claims that he does not know what kind of political pressure is being reffered to.
“We had no pressure from any councillor, but that is why we suffer constant unfounded pressure from ‘In tours’ d.o.o. Rudo, which, based on the initiation of various proceedings against the municipality of Rudo, finds a basis for media pressure, even though all these proceedings have so far been concluded to the detriment of “In tours”, says Bogdanović for SPIN Info.
Councilor Ćirović in a conflict of interest
After, as he says, he was illegally deprived of his activity, Novaković files an appeal claiming that the second-ranked bidder, that is, the owner of the company “Javni prevoz” Milovan Ćirović, is in a conflict of interest, given that he is a member of the SNSD in the Rudo Municipality Assembly.
Half a year after Ćirović was transporting students, the Republican Commission for determining conflicts of interest in the authorities of Republika Srpska issues a decision that councillor Milovan Ćirović is in fact in a conflict of interest.
That the municipality of Rudo knew that by awarding the contract to the councillor in the Rudo Municipal Assembly, they would violate the Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interest, and they did it again, is shown by the letter sent earlier to the Republican Commission, which was asked for an opinion on the said case.
“A councillor in a local self-government unit who is the owner of a company that provides transport services is in a conflict of interest if, in the public procurement process, he would do business with the local community as a councillor, which would violate the Law on Public Procurement in addition to the law on preventing conflicts of interest within the limits of the authorities of Republika Srpska “, they state from the Republic Commission for determining conflicts of interest in the authorities of Republika Srpska.
The Republican Commission for the Determination of Conflicts of Interest has changed its opinion
However, that was not the end of the conflict of interest affair. Ćirković files an appeal against the decision of the competent commission, and the appeal is accepted, and the Commission makes a new decision in May of the same year that the councillor this time is not in a conflict of interest because he voted for the adoption of a decision on subsidizing transportation, that he did not put private interest above the public one, and did not find himself in a conflict of interest.
Transprancy International says that councillor of the Municipality of Rudo was not allowed to vote on subsidizing transport carried out by a company owned by him, because it is his direct financial interest.
“The commission often comes up with explanations that try to formally justify what would essentially be a conflict of interest, and although cheaper transportation is a public interest, the fact is that the vote of a person who has a financial interest in it, disposing of public money for his private benefit, represents a conflict of interest”, says Damjan Ožegović, senior researcher and associate for legal affairs at Transparency International, for SPIN Info.
Marko Novaković, the owner of the company “In tours”, explains to us what “forced” the commission to change its decision.
“After the appeal, Deputy Chief Jovica Vidaković and Secretary Zoran Đurović go to Banja Luka to ‘solve’ the problem, that is, to return to the original decision, and from 17.5.2022 Ćirović is not in a conflict of interest”, said Novaković.
The owner of the company “In turs” wasted no time and started an administrative dispute and filed a criminal complaint against Chief Bogdanović, and now everything is in the hands of the court in Istočno Sarajevo.
New tender again adapted to the same bidder?
The Municipality of Rudo has announced a tender for Student Transportation for the new school year, that is, 2022/23. In the required conditions, it is stated that the bidder should have one successfully executed contract in the value of no less than 55,000.00 KM, which means that the mentioned councillor has certainly fulfilled one condition.
It seems that the Municipality of Rudo will have to set tender conditions more “stratigically” in the future, and councillors will still be able to conclude deals with public institutions regardless of possible conflicts of interest and violations of the law.