Banja Luka, February 2, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Mladen Dragojlovic
Exhibition “We pay the price: Museum of public procurements” arrived in Banja Luka and in the first few hours has attracted the attention of citizens.
This exhibition is the result of investigation of several NGOs in BiH which calculated how much public institutions paid for some ordinary things. The results are more than disappointing. According to public reports, RS Government paid an ordinary metal ashtray about 650 Euro per piece, while the Center for preschool education in Banja Luka gave more than 2,5 Euro for one roll of toilet paper, and Government of Una-Sana Canton paid 115 Euro for ordinary lunch. The list of items is long and this exhibition shows that public institutions are spending citizens money on the most improper manner. USAID supported the exhibition and director of BiH USAID office, Peter Duffy, said to media that the project begun a few months ago.
“The purposes of the exhibition is very simple: a lot of people understand but don’t really see the impact of public procurement. The Law on public procurement in BiH could be better and there are local NGO which are advocating the changes in order to make it better. If Government spends about 1300 BAM for an ashtray it means that this money will not be used in public health, education or job creating programs”, said Duffy to media in Banja Luka.
He added that the exhibition shows items from the whole country and thus both entities have the same problem. The first exhibition of items was in Sarajevo and now it travels through BiH from city to city. Banja Luka is the first place in which the items are exhibited in a coffee shop, since in all other cities it was held in shopping centres and libraries. Duffy explained that no shopping centre in Banja Luka agreed to host the exhibition. The organisers negotiated with the management of three shopping centres, which disagreed or canceled the arrangement in last moment.
“For us, the most important thing is that it is on the place where a lot of people circulate and have the chance to see it. Every item has its own story, the public had the worst reactions on the procuring of alcohol liquor in the kindergarten”, Duffy said.
Ivana Korajlic, from NGO transparency International BiH, said that a coalition of NGOs, during the parliamentary procedure prior adoption of Law on public procurement, warned that it is no good. But there was no understanding for civil society proposals.
“After its adoption we continued to advocate the changes of the law because we cannot let the institutions legalise the misuse of the Law and public procurement. We made 18 amendments and demand to prevent conflict of interest in public procurement and to avoid the situation that, for example, manager of enterprise sign the contract with private enterprise which is owned by him or a member of his family”, Korajlic said.
Citizens’ first reactions on the exhibition are interesting because all of them were stunned with amount of money which was spent for ordinary things.
“An sshtray like this cost one BAM (0.5 Euro) on the marketplace and RS Government paid so much money for it? it is impossible, what were they thinking?”, said one of them.
The exhibition will stay in Banja Luka for next five days and will then go to Bijeljina.