In the past two years, over 121 million BAM have been allocated from the budget at all levels of government in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to finance associations and foundations. These are the data presented yesterday by Transparency International in BiH (TI BiH) in the first public register that shows which associations receive public funds and for what purpose.
The amount obtained is not final, because some institutions are hiding information about when they are financing, which is why TI BiH initiated 6 administrative disputes before the competent courts and filed 32 complaints with the authorities. The procedures by which about 15.000 grants were distributed were non-transparent, with the money distributed in most cases without any criteria or public call, as indicated by auditors at all levels.
An additional problem is political abuses and the growing occurrence of conflicts of interest, where many public officials are at the head of the associations that receive funds. TI BiH has so far identified 47 such officials in BiH, and some of them are potentially in conflict of interest. Apart from that, TI BiH data show that in the last two election cycles, over 800 candidates headed NGOs that received public funding.
Furthermore, the most money was given to sports clubs, veterans’ organizations, and religious communities, and the most money (49%) was distributed from the local level. The state level provides only 3%, but most of the money is shared from the budget reserves, and according to the Audit Office, everything is done without a public call, while the implementation of the recommendations regarding transparency has been avoided for years.
According to the TI BiH, 77.4 million BAM was distributed in the Federation of BiH (FBiH), and the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sports allocates the most money from the entity level. According to the auditor, the money was divided on the basis of criteria that are not measurable, and everything depended on the subjective assessment of the members of the commission, where only one point brought the users 10.000 BAM more.
It is important to mention that the Law on Prevention of Conflicts of Interest in the FBIH prohibits officials from being members of associations that receive more than 10.000 BAM a year from the budget, or 50.000 BAM if the association is in the field of culture and sports.
In recent years, TI BIH has insisted that the development of anti-corruption strategies be used to analyze and improve the transparency of the allocation of funds throughout BiH. Some levels of government have identified corruption risks in this aspect, but the current situation shows that little has been done to improve.
That is why the key priority is to improve and harmonize the law on conflict of interest at all levels, as well as to introduce transparent procedures and measurable criteria when distributing grants in order to prevent corruption and political misuse of allocated funds.