Business Behind the Decoy of Humanitarian Work
Međugorje. Photo: metro-portal.hr
Some humanitarian organizations incorporated in Međugorje are not doing humanitarian work but instead are involved in businesses, such as tourism and hospitality. Most of those organizations are registered at the address Bijakovići bb, Međugorje, making it difficult to pinpoint their real whereabouts. The Federation Bureau for Inspection Affairs reported these findings in an investigation of non-government and humanitarian organizations in the Federation of Bosnia andHerzegovina(FBiH).
The Bureau did not reveal the names of the organizations it inspected. However, the part of the report it shared with the Center for Investigative Reporting in Sarajevo (CIN), says 24 organizations from the area of Sarajevo Canton were inspected, 29 from Herzegovina Neretva Canton (HNK)—27 located in the municipalities of Čitluk and Međugorje—while two organizations were inspected in Tuzla Canton and Una Sana Canton and one organization was inspected in Bosnia Podrinje Canton and Canton 10.
The inspectors found that some humanitarian organizations have erected buildings—on agricultural land and without the zoning or construction permits—which provide tourism and hospitality services. They also found that business subjects are changing their activities in incorporation paperwork from industrial to humanitarian, while continuing in the same line of work: hospitality, tourism, trade, for example. This breeds unfair competition since non-governmental organizations do not have to pay some taxes and contributions that business organizations must pay.
Inspectors recommended that organizations only registered pro forma while actually conducting businesses,be banned. The report was sent at the end of the last month to the FBiH government which passed a Conclusion calling for legislation better organizing humanitarian organizations..
CIN has taken a look at the registry of associations held at the FBiH Ministry of Justice and found 1,274 associations and 224 foreign organizations in five books which hold data such as: the name of the organization, the date it was entered into the books, the decision on incorporation, the address, the name of the person authorized to represent it, a ban or termination of its existence. Not one association has been banned.
The inspection notes that the database of foreign organizations with the FBiH ministry of justice is all over the place. The inspectors note that the existing register of active organizations has been outdated and inaccurate as they could not found a number of organizations according to their incorporated addresses, and moreover, some of them were no longer active.
They add that the organizations are not inspected sufficiently. In other words, local inspections have controlled the organizations in the Sarajevo Canton, while there have been no inspections in Herzegovina Neretva. That canton’s Ministry of Justice, Administration and Local Self-government, which keeps the register of organizations from this canton, said that it was not clearly defined who was to conduct inspections.