Kosovo Government building, May 2015 | Photo: Atdhe Mulla.

Jobs for votes?

In the buildup to October’s parliamentary elections, hundreds of vacancies were advertised in public institutions, with critics arguing it was a last attempt to employ those connected to the previous government.

In the period between outgoing Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj’s resignation on July 19 and the parliamentary elections on October 6, BIRN research has found that Kosovo’s ministries publicly advertised vacancies for at least 200 positions, with many on long-term fixed contracts. Meanwhile, nine days before the election, 30 new employees were hired at the Ministry of Defence on service contracts. 

Mexhide Demolli-Nimani from the good governance NGO Levizja Fol believes that the resignation of Haradinaj and the imminent collapse of the government presented a chance to install those close to the governing parties ahead of the inevitable elections. “It was a golden opportunity for the ruling parties to hire relatives or even party militants in these positions,” she told BIRN.

Candidate for prime minister from the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, at the October 6 elections, Vjosa Osmani, also criticized the large number of vacancies offered at public institutions in the build up to the elections, labelling them as an attempt to “buy the will of the citizens.”

She added that the recruitment processes would be reviewed by an LDK government. “All these vacancies and other recruitments, including illegal recruitment will be reviewed,” Osmani stated in a pre-election debate.

The Haradinaj government was frequently criticized for its size, as well as its record on nepotistic employment. It was Kosovo’s largest ever government, with five deputy prime ministers, 21 ministers and over 80 deputy ministers. 

In the election campaign, opposition parties LDK and Vetevendosje both publicly promised to reduce the size of the government. Final election results put the two parties as the most voted subject, and they are expected to form a coalition government.

In the buildup to the election, two of Kosovo’s biggest public companies, Trepca and the Kosovo Energy Company, KEK, also went on large recruitment drives, advertising for more than 350 positions. On September 24, less than two weeks before the parliamentary elections, the Trepca Joint Stock Company announced vacancies for 220 new jobs, while on September 20, KEK advertised vacancies for 133 positions. 

Trepca’s director, Basri Ibrahimi, however, insisted the contest was not about the election campaign for the October 6 election. “Since coming to Trepca, I have been requesting an increase in the number of employees,” Ibrahimi said. “Never, never in my life have I worked with this mentality: I don’t care about political parties.”

Without legislative basis

Many of the positions advertised prior to the election were also done without a legislative basis due to issues regarding the new Law on Public Officials, which governs employment to Kosovo’s public institutions. 

Adopted by the Kosovo Assembly in February, the new law came into force on September 11 but relevant by-laws needed to implement the law have not yet been passed. Despite this, numerous public positions were advertised at ministries after September 11 under the Law on Civil Service, which is no longer in effect. 

In early October, the EU Office in Kosovo called for a halt to any recruitment process still ongoing until the by-laws were passed. 

“All job vacancies published by civil service institutions, such as ministries, executive and regulatory agencies, cannot be processed further,” the Office told Radio Free Europe. “We call on the Ministry of Public Administration to inform public institutions that job vacancies currently advertised by state administration institutions cannot continue until the government has approved the relevant bylaws and taken the appropriate decisions.”

The Ministry of Public Administration, MPA, told BIRN that it has notified all public institutions about the new law. “The Ministry of Public Administration has sent a letter to all institutions to suspend competitions under the Law on Civil Service,” the MPA said. “Each institution is obliged to apply the letter received from the MPA and suspend the aforementioned competitions.”

While some vacancies posted after September 11 were cancelled or suspended following advice from the MPA, including seven positions at the Ministry of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, others have not been.

At the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, ran by Pal Lekaj from the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, 30 calls for public vacancies were published on the ministry’s website between September 12-28 despite the MPA’s notice.

20/11/2019 - 16:09

20 November 2019 - 16:09

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.