Lijanović: Farmers Misused Grants

Federation minister of agriculture, waterworks and forestry said that farmers misused grants.

The Federation Minister of Agriculture, Waterworks and Forestry Jerko Ivanković Lijanović said that the members of his People’s Party through Work for Betterment received less amount of money in agricultural grants compared to other parties’ members. Lijanović said this in an interview for www.source.ba, when asked if members of his party received agricultural grants according to an article published by the Center for Investigative Reporting in Sarajevo (CIN).

“At one moment, there was even a report in the Parliament that purported that grants had been given out solely to the members of People’s Party through Work for Betterment. I said then that I might be criticized and demoted by the Party, because once the grants had been broken down by party membership, it turned out that the People’s Party through Work for Betterment had been represented with a symbolic percentage of grants; and that’s the real truth.”

Lijanović said that if the party members had met the criteria than they shouldn’t have been discriminated in the allocation of grants.

CIN published a story „Buying Votes to Lijanović’s Betterment“ that revealed how the party did well in 2010 elections because the party activists promised to pay 100 KM per a vote. The electoral result helped the Party vice-president Lijanović get appointed as minister and vice-prime minister in the government of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH). After he came into office, Lijanović amended the Program of Agricultural Subsidies and had set up a commission for reviewing grant applications. In this manner he managed to pay out one-time grants of 800 KM without oversight. In total, nearly three million KM where doled out as a thank-you to people who were supposed to vote or collect votes for Lijanović’s party.

Lijanović told the web site that the allocation of agricultural grants has gone transparently and according to the rules.

“There is always a certain percentage of misuses that’s possible. We have significantly and drastically decreased misuses in grants. Our reports show that thousands of famers have misused grants and when exposed they were denied (the funds) and they cannot do it any more in this area.” Lijanović said that probably it will never be possible to eradicate all the misuses: “Similarly, we cannot weed out traffic accidents, but if someone committed an accident, he should be sanctioned, and not questioning the very existence of traffic or of a car.”

When a reporter said that many people, including CIN’s interviewee Stajka Auks, said that they voted for Lijanović on the understanding that they would get money, he replied: “I believe that we could find even more people.” He said that once in the state parliament he proposed adoption of a law that would pay every voter a 100 KM fee for voting, but the proposal was turned down.

“People took this as my promise that they should receive 100 KM for going to vote, without considering the legal procedure for adoption of the law in order for this to happen. I have also come across people asking me: ‘Jerko, where is our 100 KM?’ so I would explain to them that this would happen when the law is adopted, when we achieve the majority to pass the law. “

Lijanović said that this would be a good solution for the development of democracy, because the fee would stimulate voters to take to the polls in greater numbers.

Together with his father, three brothers and several other persons, Ivanković Lijanović was arrested last September on charges of organized crime and tax evasion. After spending a month in detention, he was released and no charges were pressed against him. Lijanović said that the reports that led to his arrest—produced by the Indirect Taxation Authority and State Investigation and Protection Agency—were false and he would prove this in a court of law.