Stricter Rules for Legislators’ Allowances
After CIN’s investigation into legislative abuse, the FBiH Parliament’s House of Peoples introduced new rules for the use of living-away-from home and accommodation allowances in Sarajevo.
CIN investigation into lawmakers abuse of accommodation and living-away-from-home allowances led to an overhaul of rules in the FBiH Parliament. (Photo: CIN)
By The Center for Investigative Reporting
From April onward, legislators at the House of Peoples in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) Parliament will be asked to give a statement that they and their family members don’t own real property in Sarajevo Canton when applying for accommodation and living-away-from home allowances. In case it turns out that legislators misstated facts, they could be held criminally accountable.
In addition to this, the Reporters from the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIN) in Sarajevo also learned from House staffers that legislators will have to have the said statement certified by a notary public or municipal clerk and provide a list of all the residents at their home address.
The House’s secretary Izmir Hadžiavdić told CIN about these changes and said how CIN’s two-year-old investigation into legislative abuse has contributed to these changes.
CIN reporters found that since the beginning of 2015, lawmakers often rented in old and decrepit buildings far from the FBiH Parliament’s building. Some let others live in the places the government rented for them. One legislator owned a condo at a time when the FBiH Parliament paid a rent for him in a house not ready to be lived in that a friend was building. At least half of legislators entitled to accommodations had no use for them, and many could not tell CIN’s reporters their locations.
Over the past 2.5 years, more than 825,000 KM was spent to reimburse 35 legislators for these expenses.
Acting on behalf of Sarajevo Canton Prosecutor’s Office, the Federation Police Administration (FPA) requested paperwork from the FBiH House of Peoples on living expenses of the House legislators. An investigation is ongoing. The Administrative Commission had not held a session since 2017 when CIN published its investigation, until the new legislators and new commission members were appointed. The commission’s first session put on agenda the new rules for the use of allowances.
The FBiH House of Representatives also Changed its Rules
Pravila su početkom godine promijenjena i u Predstavničkom domu FBiH, također nakon CIN-ovog istraživanja.
In the beginning of the year, the FBiH House of Representatives also changed its rules in the wake of a CIN investigation.
In mid-2018, CIN reporters found the FBiH Parliaments spent around 2.1 million KM on rent, living expenses and transport allowances for representatives over three years and five months. Most of the representatives did not reside in the apartments paid by the Parliament which remained empty or were used by other persons. Reporters also uncovered that two representatives had their own condos, while the FBiH Parliament paid rent for them to their friends and acquaintances.
In order to avoid abuses, landlords are now required to show the certificate of property ownership and police confirmation of their residency rights in Sarajevo.
In 2018, another 50 representatives used these perks. They also received transport allowances to go home every weekend regardless if they had actually travelled.
While visiting the addresses of the apartments, the CIN reporters found that most of the representatives did not use their rented accommodation. Their children or others lived in them. And, they rented apartments from friends, cousins and acquaintances.