The director of the Agrarian Fund of Trebinje, Veselin Dutina, entered into a direct agreement for the purchase of office furniture with the company owned by his brother, Nikola Dutina. The value of the contract is around 5,600 marks without VAT. The interlocutors of “Direkt”, which deal with research in the field of public procurement, agree – the law has been broken. The Agrarian Fund cancelled the contract after the information that it had entered into it was leaked to the public.
According to publicly available data, the direct agreement with the brother is also the first deal with public institutions of Nikola Dutina’s newly founded company “Master decor”, which will deal with the production of furniture for business and sales premises, kitchens and the like.
The company “Master decor” was registered on February 20 of this year. He concluded the contract with the Agrarian Fund, headed by his brother, company owner Nikola Dutina, on March 7.
Is it a conflict of interest?
Slobodan Golubović, the editor of the “Pratimo tenders” portal, tells “Direkt” that it is a gross violation of the Law on Public Procurement.
“The Law on Amendments to the Law on Public Procurement, which applies from December 2022, clearly defines that the contracting authority undertakes appropriate measures in order to effectively prevent, recognize, and remove conflicts of interest in connection with the public procurement procedure, and in order to avoid violations market competition and ensuring equal treatment for all business entities. Also, it is defined that the conflict of interest in public procurement procedures refers to relatives by blood in the direct line or in the collateral line up to the third degree, which is the case in this procurement”, explains Golubović for our portal.
Damjan Ožegović from Transparency International BiH also agrees with him. He also adds that the representative of the contracting authority was obliged to sign a statement on the existence or non-existence of a conflict of interest and to publish the list of business entities, with which the representative of the contracting authority is in conflict of interest, on his website or to announce that such business entities do not exist.
The Law on Public Procurement of BiH provides that this list is updated without delay if changes occur.
Golubović believes that in this particular case, there may be justifications for a smaller amount of money, considering that the procedure was carried out by direct agreement.
“However, practice shows that direct agreements participate with about 50% in public procurement procedures, which means that when we look at a longer period of time, we can talk about very large figures that can be misused”, says Golubović.
In addition, in this public procurement procedure, the legal conditions for its initiation have not been met, our interlocutor explains, because the Agrarian Fund has not published a public procurement plan.
“This procurement is not planned, given that the contracting authority has not published a single planning document on the Public Procurement Portal to date, which it was obliged to do, in accordance with the provisions of Article 17 of the Law on Amendments to the Law on Public Procurement”, concludes Golubović.
We also asked the director of the Agrarian Fund, Veselin Dutina, for a statement, but he refused to speak for our portal.
“I have no comment on that”, said Dutina in a telephone conversation.
Dutina annulled the contract with his brother’s company, for “Direkt” only denials.
The Agrarian Fund of the City of Trebinje cancelled the contract for the purchase of office furniture with the company “Master Decor”, whose owner is Nikola Dutina, the brother of the director of the Agrarian Fund, Veselin Dutina. The Agrarian Fund cancelled the contract after the information that it had entered into it was leaked to the public.
This morning, a notification from the Agrarian Fund of the City of Trebinje arrived at the e-mail address of the “Direkt” portal, as a reaction to our article that we published last night “For a happy start to work: Veselin Dutina assigned the job of purchasing furniture to his brother”. The text of the notice is reproduced below in its entirety and without interventions.
ACCORDING TO THE TEXT YOU PUBLISHED ON YOUR PORTAL “FOR A HAPPY START TO WORK: VESELIN DUTINA ASSIGNED THE FURNITURE PURCHASE JOB TO HIS BROTHER”, WE WOULD LIKE TO INFORM YOU THAT THE PURCHASE YOU MENTIONED HAS NOT BEEN REALIZED AT ALL. WE REQUEST THAT YOU PUBLISH THIS NOTICE ON YOUR PORTAL AS SOON AS POSSIBLE SO THAT THE PUBLIC IS TIMELY AND CORRECTLY INFORMED.
the Agrarian Fund of the City of Trebinje.
After our request for clarification, a second email arrived, the content of which we are also transmitting in its entirety and without intervention.
As we informed you in the previous email, regarding the purchase in question, it has not been realized at all. As a contracting authority, we have published all the necessary information on the public procurement portal, which is prescribed by law, and we are not obliged to submit our internal documents to the media for inspection. If you wish, you can find information about this and all other procedures on the website of the Agency for Public Procurement. Given that we have provided you with all the information necessary to publish a denial in public, we require you to publish this and the previous email on your portal. Thank you.
the Agrarian Fund of the City of Trebinje.
Namely, in the mentioned text, we announced that the director of the Agrarian Fund, Veselin Dutina, entered into a contract for the procurement of office furniture with the company “Master decor”, which is owned by his brother, and which was only recently founded.
Our interlocutors confirmed that this is a gross violation of the Law on Public Procurement of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Namely, on March 8, it was announced on the Public Procurement Portal that the Agrarian Fund concluded a contract with the company “Master Decor” on March 7 and that the contract would expire on March 12.
The Public Procurement Agency subsequently announced that the contract was terminated on March 8 due to the “impossibility of completing the work within the specified period”. Therefore, the contract was not cancelled due to the conflict of interest of the parties in the proceedings.
There is a justified suspicion that the contract was terminated only after director Veselin Dutina realized that information about the contract had been leaked to the public. This is also confirmed by the informal telephone conversation with Dutin, in which he told us yesterday, March 9, that he had signed the contract, in which he saw nothing objectionable, and that he would cancel it. Therefore, on March 9, Dutina did not claim that the contract was annulled, but that it existed and that he was about to annul it.
The question is, did Veselin Dutina and the Agrarian Fund of the City of Trebinje provide incorrect information to the Agency for Public Procurement of Bosnia and Herzegovina?
The position of our editorial office is that Dutin, that is, the Agrarian Fund of the City of Trebinje, misled the public with this morning’s notification, which was intended to deny the published text, because it did not state that they terminated the contract, nor when they did it, nor why.
By the way, “Direkt” in its text did not say in a single sentence that the contract had already been implemented, but only that it was concluded by direct agreement. Therefore, concluding a contract cannot be equal to its realization.