Gacko: Overstretched budgets thwarted pre-election recruitment

Autor: Direkt Aktuelno Društvo Ekonomija
9 minuta čitanja

From one election cycle to the next, there is less and less room for trading jobs, which is the essence of pre-election employment. In Gacko, this year's star is Aleksije Grgur, who is the candidate of the SNSD for deputy in the NSRS.

Precisely because of the aforementioned candidacy and incompatibility of functions, Grgur had to resign from the position of director of Radio-Gacko, which he took up in March 2021, which Direkt wrote about.

Having lost his job, he found a new job as a statistics officer in the administration of the municipality of Gacko. He signed a contract with the chief for six months. It is important to say that the current municipal management fired an employee from that place a year and a half ago along with 37 others who were hired by the previous government, also in the pre-election period.

The mayor of the municipality, Ognjen Milinković, agreed that there is a problem with the excess of employees in the administrative service of the municipality, but he did not want to comment on the transfer of Grgur from the municipal public institution to the administrative service.

They save jobs in TO 

Although there are already too many, recently the Tourism Organization Gacko has also received new employees, so the number of tourist employees in the municipality of Gacko has reached 30. For the sake of comparison, this is a third more than in TO Trebinje.

According to our knowledge, the key man is Željko Tepavčević, who is the president of OO DNS in Gacko. He is known to the general public as the president of the RS Trade Union Confederation, and he is also the president of the RiTE Gacko Trade Union. The political and trade union activity that he concentrated in his hands is visible in the mentioned TO Gacko, which, according to the agreement of the ruling coalition partners in Gacko, belongs to DNS.

Tepavčević told “Direkt” that three workers were hired for a certain period due to the expansion of work during the summer because they had a sales facility on the lake. 

“Their contract expires at the end of the month, without the possibility of extension, and that's it.” 

He also emphasized that for two years, the Tourist Organization has managed to keep six employees who were hired by the previous administration in their jobs. 

“Their contracts expire at the end of October, that is, by the end of December. We will do our best, if there are funds in the budget, to keep these people working. This does not depend only on the budget, but also on the decisions of the parliamentary majority”, Tepavčević points out.

He assessed the municipal administration as incapable of finding a way to employ the people it fired a year and a half ago. He believes that it is an unacceptable move to employ someone else in that position. 

“I don't want to bid on names, but I condemn every dismissal that is unacceptable to me as a man and a trade unionist, as well as the employment of someone else in the position from which the worker was dismissed”, Tepavčević is categorical.

RiTE Gacko ships, not hiring

As president of the RiTE Trade Union, Tepavčević denies the claims of certain opposition members in the pre-election campaign that there was employment in this company in the past period.

“From February to July 2021, there were cases of employment, but only on a part-time basis. I responsibly claim that there is no employment. After all, the employment ban is still in effect. Currently, RiTE has 1,885 employees, engaged under fixed and indefinite contracts, which is over 100 less than in the previous period”, states Tepavčević. He explains that the reason is the natural outflow, but also the severance pay program that was implemented in the past period.[alert type=”transparent” sc_id=”sc857534822452”]In contrast to 2014, in which the election cycle was marked by mass employment at RiTE Gacko, this year the largest employer in the municipality was Kort market, which was opened at the beginning of August and where around 40 workers found employment. Since it is a private investment, although lists were made, the parties had little influence on the choice of employees. According to our information, as a sign of goodwill and successful cooperation, the investor met only some of the chief's suggestions during the engagement of workers.

“Soon an invitation will be issued for a new round of severance payments, the funds have been secured, and according to my knowledge, about 50 RiTE workers will probably be covered by it”, said Tepavčević. 

We also contacted Aleksandra Milović, the director of the Center for Social Work in Gacko, who told us that in the last few months, one person has been hired on a fixed-term basis, but that it is not about political employment. Although he admits that there are certain pressures, he says that the number of employees in this institution has remained at the same level and that there are 15 workers.

TI BiH: about 30 examples of mass employment

Three months before the elections, Transparency International (TI) monitors the misuse of public resources. When it comes to pre-election recruitment, Srđan Traljić says that they recorded around 30 cases of mass recruitment in public institutions and companies.

“We believe that there is more, but it is not possible to get information. Public tenders are not announced in companies and only when we compare their financial statements in election and non-election years do we see a trend of increasing salary costs. It was reported to us that the recruitment is being done at Pošta Srpska. Our analyzes show that they have more employees than BH Post, whose income is 30 million KM higher. The number of employees has grown enormously in recent years, which directly indicates that the resources of Pošta Srpska are being used to satisfy the interests of the ruling political party”, said our interlocutor.

Traljić points out that it is clear why the implementation of the Law on Local Self-Government, which limits the number of employees to 3 per thousand inhabitants, is being delayed. 

“There is no political will to reform and create an independent and efficient administration,” he concludes. 

When asked why people agree to this type of relationship, he answers that people are part of that “game”.

“All our research shows that not only party recruitment, but also the indirect buying of votes through one-time subsidies, through infrastructure works, has an impact on voters. People still haven't solved basic existential issues and they don't really care if someone misused public funds to provide them with employment, roads, sewage, water. They agree to be part of that game, to sell their vote to someone who provided them with something of that. When a road is opened somewhere, lighting, it is very easy to see, these things have a great influence on the determination of voters”, TI BiH concludes.

They add that the law generally does not recognize this kind of behavior of the authorities as a problem because it did not clearly define the key abuses, so little can be reported as an irregularity.

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