Photo: SPIN info
The Municipality Assembly of Pale has adopted a Decision on the use of public roads in the Jahorina area, in which the Joint-stock company Olympic Center “Jahorina” is obliged to provide conditions for unhindered traffic, necessary conditions for vehicle parking, as well as regular cleaning and maintenance of all allocated traffic areas.
This involves as many as 25 locations on Jahorina.
The decision of the Municipality Assembly of Pale
The allocation of public areas is done with a fee of 100,000 KM, which should be deposited into the budget of the Municipality of Pale by the end of the winter tourist season on Jahorina, or by April 30, 2024. The decision was signed by the president of the assembly, Stefan Stajčić.
Money that returns to the budget of the Municipality of Pale in one year is earned by OC Jahorina in less than a month
This is not the first year that the Municipality of Pale has granted land to OC Jahorina for use, while the citizens of Pale have almost no benefits from this decision, only incurring millions in losses. Olympic Center data shows that during the last season, which lasted four months, 315,000 guests visited the mountain. Parking fees on most of these locations cost 15 KM per day, even though some of the parking spaces on Jahorina are just undeveloped land converted into parking. With this calculation, OC Jahorina earns over a million marks from parking fees during the season, while the Municipality of Pale receives only 100,000 KM. In addition, the municipality often allocates funds for “investments on Jahorina”, so even this 100,000 is returned to Jahorina.
The authorities in the municipality of Pale have not responded to why they enable another party to profit at the expense of their own budget. They remain silent to calls and messages from our journalists. We also asked the signatory of the mentioned Decision, namely the president of the Municipality Assembly of Pale, Stefan Stajčić, who, despite promising to respond to our questions, has not done so yet.
For waste disposal, the favoured company “STAM-Petrović” received 44,995 KM from OC Jahorina
Parking fees are not the only benefit OC Jahorina gained from this decision.
Instead of the municipal utility company and the Municipality of Pale, even the money from waste disposal on Jahorina goes to a private company. And not just any company, it’s the favoured company of OC Jahorina, which has received millions from the Olympic centre so far. Almost every time, “STAM-Petrović” is the sole bidder in the tender, so they will receive 44,995 KM without VAT, or 52,644 KM with VAT, for waste transport services from the Olympic Center.
Namely, “STAM-PETROVIĆ” from Istocni Stari Grad, owned by Mirko Petrović, received a contract for the construction of a ski slope worth almost three million KM from OC Jahorina at the end of last year.
“Stam Petrović” dominates tenders issued by OC Jahorina, and recently a group of bidders led by this company secured a contract for the construction of an administrative building at “Igrišta” worth around 3.3 million marks. With the exact same group of bidders, they also secured a contract for the construction of a ski lodge at “Igrišta” worth about 2.3 million KM, as reported by the Capital portal.
Instead of money, they gave the Municipality a non-functional ambulance
In 2021, the Municipality of Pale obligated OC Jahorina, in exchange for the use of public traffic areas, to purchase an ambulance for the needs of the Health Center Pale. The promised vehicle arrived at the Health Center only in February 2023, presented as a donation, not as an obligation they had undertaken.
Photo: OC Jahorina/February 2023.
The mayor of Pale, Boško Jugović, considers it a positive development that the budget of the municipality he has been managing for years is losing millions due to the granting of land and favouritism towards OC Jahorina, as indicated by his statement during the handover of the ambulance.
“Therefore, once again, together with the Olympic Center Jahorina, we have implemented a project of great importance, making an arrangement through which the amount collected from the service of renting parking spaces in the Jahorina-Pale area would go where it is most needed. This ambulance is precisely what we are talking about. We believe we have chosen the right thing because it will benefit the local population and tourists staying in the municipality of Pale“.
However, our sources indicate that the vehicle was already registered at OC Jahorina, and the Health Center refused to use it until it was transferred and registered to this health institution because they don’t even have the legal right to use it in that condition.
For comparison, in the same year, the Health Center of Istočno Sarajevo acquired a vehicle, meaning that the “donation” is valued at around 80,000 KM.
The political bargaining of the Municipality Assembly of Pale to extract at least a portion of the money from the Olympic Center does not end here. In one budget year, they conditioned the municipality to receive only 50,000 KM for parking on Jahorina from OC, finally succeeding in extracting the current 100,000 KM.
Gazivoda: Subservient relationship of the municipality leadership in Pale to the leadership of OC
It is not uncommon for the members of the Municipality Assembly of Pale to receive decisions related to Jahorina just before the session, says opposition councillor Dušan Gazivoda for SPIN Info.
“The subservient relationship of the municipality leadership in Pale to the leadership of OC is evident to the regret of all citizens of Pale through many aspects of cooperation. The best example of this is the concession of parking space in the territory belonging to the municipality of Pale, which has been granted in recent years for a price of 100,000 KM for one season. According to my information, OC Jahorina earns 100,000 KM on these same parking spaces in just a few days during the peak season. The explanation from the municipality of Pale is also that they are not able to organize the cleaning and collection of fees for these parking spaces. To make matters worse, the Olympic Center itself hires private companies to clean the parking lots, despite having a huge profit”, says Gazivoda.
The changes in regulatory plans that allow urban and ecological destruction on Jahorina are also a problem. The opposition councillor blames the mayor and the municipal majority in Pale led by the SNSD.
“Besides parking, the most evident example of the relationship between the municipality and the OC is the changes in regulatory plans. Essentially, the municipal majority and the mayor appear as some kind of service provider for OC, that is, whatever OC drafts, the municipality simply approves. So we have a situation where complete urbanization of the mountain is happening on Jahorina, and de facto, OC has no authority for it; it is entirely within the municipality’s jurisdiction“, concludes Gazivoda.
Although stories of successful seasons on Jahorina are presented to the citizens, the fact is that OC “Jahorina” is in financial trouble due to the imprudent borrowing from banks.
Journalist Bojana Ninković from the Capital portal tells SPIN Info that stories of successful seasons are served to the citizens to create the illusion that everything is fine. Indeed, certain seasons have been very successful, but evidently, those seasons were not enough to cover all those million-dollar public procurements and credit obligations.
“The biggest problem is that they took a much larger amount of loans than they are able to repay. It is estimated that they have taken around 200 million KM from banks so far, and they owe around 27 million marks for issued bonds. We can see that these loans far exceed their financial capabilities. The biggest problem is that new obligations are persistently added to the old ones, which they cannot settle, leading to a constant increase in indebtedness. If you find yourself in a situation where banks are blocking your accounts due to the inability to meet obligations, then new million-dollar debts are definitely not the solution”.
Ninković emphasizes that one should question how successful you really are if, out of almost 21 million KM in revenue, only 350,000 KM remains as profit.
In 2021, Spin Info was the first to report that Mayor Jugović illegally transferred one million marks to OC without the consent of the municipal assembly majority, and the opposition filed a criminal complaint. Three years later, the District Public Prosecutor’s Office in Istočno Sarajevo has not commented on this case. We tried to get a response from the spokesperson of the relevant prosecutor’s office, Neven Kramer, leaving messages, but he did not respond.
For years, Jahorina has been developing at the expense of the municipalities of Pale and Trnovo due to the subservient relationship of local authorities, as all decisions are directed towards the development of Jahorina, specifically the management of Jahorina by the Olympic Center. On the other hand, these local communities have been waiting for the completion of numerous infrastructure projects for years, as our portal has reported. The money that ended up on Jahorina through changes in regulatory plans and the sale/transfer of land, which was later resold, counts in the millions.