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Officeholders Received 346,000 KM in Retirement Severance

Money went to 23 officeholders who held senior posts in eight state ministries.
Officeholders working in government departments are entitled to retirement severance, but not all retire after receiving it. Some continue working in government at the same or similar offices. (Photo: CIN)

Twenty-three officeholders received nearly 346,000 KM in severance pay before retiring. Ministers, deputies, assistants and advisors to the ministers and secretary generals of the ministries got money from the budget of eight state ministries since 2006.

According to the Law on Salaries and Allowances in the Institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), officials are entitled to severance pay equal to six net salaries when they are about to retire.

According to records collected by the Center for Investigative Reporting in Sarajevo (CIN), at least three officeholders continued working in the same office or in other institutions after receiving the severance. One officeholder has been charged with abuse of office at the time he received severance. And there is evidence that another officeholder did not bother coming to the work that granted him severance.

Slavko Marin received 24,616 KM in retirement severance from the state Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees. He worked at the ministry as deputy minister until February 2012. For another year he received end-of-term severance pay of around 4,000 KM a month. When that run out in February 2013, he received the retirement severance. However, he froze his retirement status and started working as a chairman of the Municipal Council of Novi Travnik.

On March 30, 2015, a day before his last working day as deputy state minister of defense, Živko Marjanac received a retirement severance of 25,492 KM. However, he also did not retire, but took up the post of vice-president of the Council of Peoples of Republika Srpska (RS). Marjanac told CIN that he was not receiving a salary and pension because he had still been waiting to receive his retirement paperwork. Currently he’s receiving 1,700 KM for his work in the council. He said that politicians all around the world stay active while getting retirement pay. “People do politics and once they take office, there’s no pension,” said Marjanac.

According to a 2013 decision of the RS Supreme Court, all pensioners are entitled to receive a salary or allowance with their pension.

In the FBiH this right is regulated with the Law on Pension and Disability Insurance which stipulates that pensioners with more than 40 years of paid pension contributions and older than 65, with 20 years of paid pension contributions, may receive a salary and pension simultaneously. Those with fewer years of paid contributions can only be paid on the basis of a service contract if they want to receive both incomes.

In October 2007, advisor to the BiH minister of communication and traffic, Drago Bilandžija, received a 4,147 KM retirement severance even though he had arrived in office merely a month before. Having received the severance, he remained in office in the same post – he continued to advise Minister Božo Ljubić, and his successor Rudo Vidović until January 2010.

The BiH Ministry of Communication and Traffic also paid a retirement severance to Mirko Šekara in the amount of 15,062 KM. He received the severance in May 2010, at the time when he had been under prosecution for abuse of office. In April 2015, Šekara was sentenced to three years in prison for illegal trading in licenses for international road freight transport.

Currently, there’s an ongoing trial against Ivo Miro Jović, another official who exercised his right to severance pay. Jović was advising state defense minister Marina Pendeš. This July, he received severance worth 12,158 KM, while in August was confirmed an indictment against Pendeš. According to the indictment, Pendeš ordered her secretary to keep record of his presence even though he was not coming to work between June 2013 and February 2015. The prosecutors say that the defense minister rubber stamped the record even though she knew that she was underwriting a bogus presentation. Based on this Jović received salaries and allowances worth 16,970 KM.

Pendeš told the state MPs that she had no intention of resigning following the indictment because she did not feel guilty and that she was going to prove this during the trial.

An MP with the state’s Parliament’s House of Representatives Mladen Bosić asked the BiH Council of Ministers for a list of officials who have received retirement severance. The Secretary General Office of the Council of Ministers sent the answers they received from eight ministries with a note that the state Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond even when they had been reminded of the request’s urgency.

Bosić told CIN that it was not ethical to take retirement severance and continue working in government departments and get paid for that as well. “Many things are done under the pretext of the law, so I guess that in this case they have also found a loophole. This is a question of political ethics,” said Bosić.

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