Kosovo government cabinet meeting | Photo: Kallxo.com

The history of candidate elimination for chair of Energy Regulatory Office

Government cabinet interfere with candidate selection for the board members of the Energy Regulatory Office

The Kosovo government has been involved in the scandal of candidate elimination for the applicants who ran for the chair of the board position for the Kosovo Energy Regulatory Office, ZRRE. BIRN has discovered that the candidate with the most points was secretly removed from the contest.

In July 2018, the government cabinet voted to pass the report of the evaluation committee which contained four names for the position, and it would later be sent to the Kosovo assembly to be put to another vote.

A few days later, however, when the decision was printed, Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj signed a different version of the decision, one that did not contain the four names of the candidates. Two names were removed from the list suspiciously, and Haradinaj sent the decision that contained only the remaining two names to the assembly.

The initial list voted by the government listed Petrit Pepaj, Bekim Jakupi, Fadil Ismajli and Perparim Kabashi as candidates. The latter two were removed from the list, despite being voted on by the cabinet, with Fadil Ismajli receiving the highest points out of the four candidates.

BIRN previously wrote about the suspicious removal of the names from the list. After the article was published, ZRRE returned the two-name proposal by the government to the evaluation committee, requesting explanations for the removal of the candidates.

Haradinaj said that somebody had altered the government decision, but hesitated mentioning a name.

“Where to find them (the individuals who changed the list),” he said. “In my public appearance I have said that there are four candidates, but I have heard that in some cases it is not practiced to send four candidates for one spot, but two.”

Haradinaj did not say who removed the names from the list.

“I do not remember removing them,” Haradinaj said when asked whether it was his decision to remove the two names from the list. In a following question about who removed them, Haradinaj said “somebody did, somebody did.”

In an email by General Secretary of the Government Fitim Krasniqi, who did not agree to speak in front of the camera for the BIRN’s Justice in Kosovo TV program, gave no response to the question of who sends decisions to the prime minister for signing, but only talked about the journey before the decision is made.

“In accordance with Article 36 of the Work Regulation of the Government, draft decisions are prepared by the proposer, after consulting the Legal Office, the Office for Strategic Planning, The Office for Communications, from the Coordinating Secretariat of the Government through the Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office they are sent to the Prime Minister’s Cabinet for final consultation and signing by the prime minister of Kosovo,” the response reads.

Justice in Kosovo sent additional questions in order to receive answers about the whole procedure that needs to be followed, from the making of the decision until the signature from the prime minister, but the Office of the Secretary and the Office of the Prime Minister did not see it reasonable to give further explanations.

After these names were sent to members of assembly, the issue came into the  spotlight once again in October. Assembly members who make up the Committee for Economic Development asked the Prime Minister’s Office why Fadil Ismajli and Perparim Kabashi were not on the list.

Assembly Member Muharrem Nitaj from the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, said that a mistake was made and that it needs to be corrected.

“I have personally contacted the Prime Minister’s Office and it looks like a mistake was made and we received only two of the four names. I believe that the government will fix this mistake within the day and issue a written explanation,” he said.

Mimoza Kusari-Lila, assembly member from Alternativa and member of the committee, also commented on the removal of the names. According to her, this act needs to be investigated and sanctioned for falsification of the document and the decision of the government.

“This is irresponsible, it requires an investigation but also official sanctioning for whoever did it. If it is a political effort, it is a low effort to falsify government documents and decisions and deceive members of the Kosovo assembly,” she said for Justice in Kosovo.

LDK’s Hykmete Bajrami said that the removal of names from the list is not only a procedural violation, but also a legal one.

“We received an answer, which was anything but satisfying. In the prime minister’s answer last time he said that he worked according to the law, but it was in fact not at all according to the law. I believe that this is a legal and procedural violation because four candidates are voted on by the government, while the assembly received only two,” Bajrami said for Justice in Kosovo.

Dardan Sejdiu, head of the presidency of the Social Democratic Party, PSD, said that the government’s removal of the two names is arbitrary. He said that they received an answer from the Prime Minister’s Office regarding the case.

“We wrote them a letter, we received an answer where they appeal to the law, saying that the government is obligated to send at least two individuals to the vote, so they call on this ‘at least two individuals’ and allow themselves an arbitrary approach to remove the names of more meritorious individuals,” Sejdiu said for Justice in Kosovo.

Rinora Gojani, a researcher on energy issues from the Balkan Green Foundation/KOSID said that somebody needs to be investigated and take responsibility for the case.

“It is a problem for us as researchers that, without an explanation, the printed decision is different from the decision made in the meeting, it is a very big problem and somebody needs to take responsibility,” Gojani said.

According to her, the ZRRE’s board has never been more politicized than now.

Gojani said that this board has a lot of competences and decides on many issues for the country, thus there needs to be care that credible and independent individuals are chosen for these positions.

“It is very important that these individuals, as well as the agency, are credible and independent, because they do not only set energy tariffs, but this board also gives licences for companies that invest in electricity production. It also approves the maximum income for the privatized company KEDS,” she said.

At a cabinet meeting on October 16, minister Valdrin Lluka proposed to add Ismajli and Kabashi back to the list.

The British embassy in Kosovo, which participated in the selection process for the candidates, told Justice in Kosovo that they recommended three candidates for this position.

“The British embassy, through its implementing partner, was involved in the recruitment process for board chair of ZRRE. The implementing partner recommended the government three candidates who were the most successful in during the interviewing process. All of these candidates showed sufficient professional skill for the aforementioned position,” the response by the embassy read.

27/10/2018 - 11:23

27 October 2018 - 11:23

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.