Nikola Špirić, the State Delegate and Speaker of the House of Peoples of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) omitted to declare more than 107 acres of land and a house in Drvar in his 2022 Asset Declaration, which he submitted to the Central Election Commission of BiH (CEC) in March 2023.
“I always declare it, perhaps it slipped my mind,” Špirić told reporters from the Center for Investigative Journalism (CIN).
However, he will not face any sanctions for this omission, as no penalties have been envisaged for incomplete or false reporting in Asset Declarations.
According to the BiH Election Law, each candidate is required to declare their total income and the sources of income from the previous year, as well as assets the value of which exceeds 5,000 BAM, including houses, apartments, land, businesses, commercial spaces, and vehicles. They must also declare savings, money in bank accounts, the value of stocks, bonds, and debts. Additionally, politicians are obligated to report the assets of their immediate family members whom they are legally required to support.
In his Asset Declaration, Špirić declared two apartments worth 170,000 BAM, a commercial space valued at 278,755 BAM, a car worth 30,000 BAM, and savings of 430,000 BAM. Špirić, as a State House of Peoples delegate, receives a monthly salary of approximately 6,800 BAM, plus a pension of around 1,400 BAM.
A decade ago, CIN wrote about Špirić, the then-state finance minister, renovating his family house in his estate in Drvar. For this job, he had hired craftsmen, Borislav Vještica from Banja Luka and neighbor Zdravko Petković.
That same year, the Ministry of Finance and Treasury of BiH allocated 3,000 BAM from the budget reserve to Vještica and 2,000 BAM to his daughter Nikolina. They received the funds based on written requests submitted to Špirić. In his request, the father stated that his family was in a poor financial situation, while the daughter requested money for her education.
Another craftsman, who looked after Špirić’s property in Brda, also received money from the budget reserve. In 2011, Petković received 1,500 BAM for medical treatment, and a year earlier, he received 2,000 BAM for replenishing his livestock. Špirić, who was at the time the Chair of the Council of Ministers, approved the funds.
The budget reserve is money set aside in the state budget for emergencies and contingencies, international disputes, new institutions, and grants to organizations. The Council of Ministers of BiH decides on the use of the current reserve, but the Chair and the deputies have the right to spend four percent (4%) of the reserve outside of a public competition, and without being required to account for the cost.
Špirić had previously stated to CIN that the craftsman was not working for free and that he was paying him “out of his pocket.” Ten years later, he said that his family estate is “worth the nerves and love invested,” but there is “no buyer in the market.” Therefore, in his 2018 Asset Declaration, he omitted to state the value of the property.