The Republika Srpska (RS) failed yesterday to act on a request by the Office of the High Representative (OHR) that the government agree to hand over to the Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Prosecutor’s Office and State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) copies of tax revenues for Integral Inženjering of Laktaši and Integra Inženjering of Banja Luka for investigation of contracts between the RS and the companies.
According to the OHR’s Wednesday statement, the RS government instructed its tax administration and other government agencies to withhold copies of the tax returns in a decision filed Sept. 11.
Officials of the RS government declined to comment by phone to the Center for Investigative Reporting in Sarajevo (CIN) on the statement. The OHR obtained its information from a letter from the RS Secretary General to the BiH Prosecutor’s Office, saying the government was not obliged to pass along the information to the SIPA.
The OHR’s statement, contained in a press release, says that Miroslav Lajčak, the High Representative, had written to RS Prime Minister Milorad Dodik demanding that the RS government comply with BiH laws and that all RS government agencies be told to fully cooperate with BiH law enforcement agencies.
‘I expect that they will act with the seriousness that this situation calls for’ the statement quoted Lajčak as saying. ‘This is an issue of the rule of law and the separation of politics from the judiciary. These are the foundations of European democracy.’
But at the end of the day yesterday, the RS had not reversed itself.
Lajčak has already informed the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) about the RS Government’s conclusion. The RS government’s response will dictate where further discussion will lead at the meeting of PIC’s ambassadors scheduled today.
CIN has investigated and written about Integral, and those stories showed the company was favored on tenders put out by the RS government’s agencies.
The BiH Prosecutor’s Office and SIPA have conducted investigations into irregularities, the stories reported. CIN found that Integral Inženjering has done work, such as the building of roads, bridges and other public works, to the tune of more than 300 million KM in BiH.
There were flaws in the company’s contracts with the government, and in some cases the original price increased many times over the legal level. The Head Office of the RS Auditor warned in its report published this month that the construction costs of the RS government head quarters have swelled over 240 percent— far beyond the initial agreed upon price. The BiH Public Procurement Law stipulates that when the costs rise 50 percent above the original price, a new bid needs to be put out.