Bosnian officials have asked donors trying to help the country fight the pandemic to refrain from buying ventilators and similar equipment on their own but rather to contribute to an official government account, as the United Group did.
After a number of businessmen bought ventilators and other medical equipment from companies abroad, Bosnia's Security Minister, Fahrudin Radoncic, said the country has been confronted with the problem of transportation as well as the quality of the equipment.
He expressed gratitude to the United Group which pledged 400,000 Bosnian Marks to Bosnia’s fight against coronavirus and paid the first tranche to an official government account.
While grateful to other donors too, he asked them to do what United Group did. Authorities, including those from the medical sector, have to be certain that the purchased items are certified and meet European standards and pass the necessary tests, he said.
“People buy items for us in China that are worth two hundred or three hundred thousand dollars and say ‘go ahead, get them over here,’ but the transport may cost more than the items themselves,” Radoncic said.
“I ask all donors that if they have the resources and the desire to help, they can use the official accounts of either cantons, entities or the state level,” he added.
The country has a centralized list of items it needs, he said, and someone buying ventilators and then telling authorities to pick them up in Shanghai or elsewhere in China, creates huge problems as authorities cannot just go and pick up goods officially belonging to someone else.
It creates “legal and medical-technical problems,” Radoncic said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Bosnia’s embassies around the world are working hard to solve those problems and new ones should not be created, the minister said.
“Let medical experts say what they need most and then our crisis staff will decide what they need and manage the money in the most transparent way possible,” Radoncic urged the donors.
He acknowledged that lack of confidence in the country’s institutions make donors decide to buy the equipment themselves.
“Unfortunately, we are a country of corruption,” he said but added that the account or subaccount of the BiH Ministry of Security will be completely transparent.
“We received the first payment today from United Group, ie Telemach, and we are very grateful,” he said.
This money will be available exclusively to the Council of Ministers and how they spend it will be displayed on the websites of the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Security.
The data will also be seen by UNDP and other major international institutions, he said.
“This kind of transparency guarantees donors that at least as far as I am concerned, everything is absolutely legal.”
The Embassy of the People's Republic of China confirmed to N1 that there is currently a problem with the international transport of medical equipment the director of the Violeta company, Petar Corluka, purchased for medical institutions.
The Embassy said it was cooperating with competent Bosnian institutions to solve the problem.