A top official from Bosnia's Commissions Committee confirmed for N1 that a joint concession commission has been formed to decide on whether the concession Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity granted regarding the Buk Bijela hydropower construction project is valid, but also that this commission consists of six members from the RS and one member from the other entity, the Federation (FBiH).
After the RS entity granted a concession a company for the project of constructing the Buk Bijela hydropower plant, 24 MPs in BiH asked the Constitutional Court to decide on whether the entity authorities had a right to do so. The appeal states that decisions regarding state property, such as rivers at international borders, can only be made at the BiH level, so the concession must be revoked.
The concession for the construction of three hydroelectric power plants: Buk Bijela, Foca and Paunci, was awarded to the company Hidroenergetski sistem Gornja Drina, in which Serbia’s electric utility power company, Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS), has the majority share of 51 percent, and the company of the RS entity, Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske (ERS), has a 49 percent share.
Despite the appeal, but also the clear position of the Attorney General's Office that the state could not be bypassed in making such a decision, the cornerstone was laid in mid-May this year in Foca for the construction of the Buk Bijela HPP.
The BiH Constitutional Court issued a partial decision in July, ordering the BiH Concessions Commission to decide on the issue within three months.
The Concessions Commission, which is supposed to have seven members, currently has four, because the mandates of the others expired from 2008 to 2015.
According to the law, decisions can be made if at least four members are present, one of whom should be from FBiH, Republika Srpska and Brcko District, but the current composition does not reflect that rule, and this prevented the Commission from functioning.
However, this does not seem to have been a problem for the formation of a joint commission that will decide on Buk Bijela.
“The Commission for Concessions of BiH is not filled with a member from the Brcko District, and two members from the Federation. When we work and act in the capacity of this commission, then we practically cannot make decisions because we need territorial representation from the entities and the Brcko District,” Deputy Chairman of the BiH Concessions Committee, Milomir Amovic, told N1.
“However, when we work as a joint commission, we do not have that condition, but the chairman of the commission forms this body of four members of the Commission for Concessions of BiH, consisting of two Serbs and one Bosniak coming from the territory of RS, and one Croat from the territory of the Federation of BiH, as well as three members of the Commission for Concessions of Republika Srpska,” he said.
But regarding the question of whether such a joint commission can be legitimate, considering that six of the seven members come from the RS entity, Amovic said the law does not define territorial representation in that sense.
“We must first define what is actually the subject of the dispute and what decision the Constitutional Court and the public can expect from us. If it is a matter of constitutional competencies, the commission cannot be involved in that, because that is what the Constitutional Court of BiH does. We can determine whether the concession award procedure was disputable, ie whether the consent of the Parliament, the Council of Ministers was required, or whether there was a dispute at all,” he said.