Salmir Kaplan, the Minister of Culture and Sports of FBiH, can’t seem to get his compensation story straight.
A recent piece of the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIN) on unjustifable allowances for accommodation and living costs of four FBiH ministers (Damir Masic, Eldar Trhulj, Sanjin Halimovic and Salmir Kaplan) has caused quite a stir. These ministers have regularly received a monthly allowance of 600 KM for accommodation costs, although all of them own apartments in Sarajevo, where they work.
Salmir Kaplan, the only one of the four who agreed to an interview regarding the case, has seemingly regretted this decision. After the article was published, Kaplan wrote a short review of the case on his Facebook profile, which was inconsistent to his previous statements on several points. There were, however, obvious falsehoods even in Kaplan's initial statements given to CIN.
Kaplan’s claim that he “didn’t realize” that he is receiving additional 600 KM per month is certainly the most starking one. According to the CIN’s investigation, from the beginning of 2010 term until the publication of the article, Kaplan and his colleagues have received a total of 24.900 KM for accommodation costs from the budget of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. “I didn’t even register that, if you believe me” quotes CIN’s article, published on December 25th.
However, Kaplan has been a member of the Commission addressing the status issues of members of the FBiH Government and their advisers since March 2011. This is the commission which approves the additional allowances for the officials, including those for accommodation or renting an apartment. It is therefore clear that Kaplan couldn’t “not realize” the additional monthly income of 600 KM, considering that, as a member of the Commission, he practically needed to approve it himself.
The members of this Commission meet on average once a month, receiving a monthly fee of 311 KM for their work. Since March 2011, Salmir Kaplan has cashed in an additional income of approximately 17.416 KM for his work in the Commission in which, as it turns out, he managed to con himself regarding his own living arrangements.
In addition, in his interview to CIN, Minister Kaplan said the following:
“Now, there is nothing controversial here, I’m saying it openly: if someone lives in their own apartment, it’s not ethical to receive this compensation. Maybe this was going on for few months, but it is not a problem to return this money.” After talking to CIN, Kaplan has requested to waive his allowances as he promised to do in the interview, and the Commission accepted his request.
However, on December 29th, on his Facebook profile Kaplan wrote a statement which contradicts these facts:
“A few months ago I stopped using entitlements for the apartment and separate life (…) “The amount that I received for the period in which I had a formal right, but not the moral right, to receive this compensation, I donated to the HNK Union of Disabled Veterans for the treatment of seriously ill children of war invalids. The deposited amount is 6.600 KM and will be divided among the most difficult cases in the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton. Anyone interested in details can obtain it from the representatives of the Union.”
In the article published on December 25th, Kaplan said that until then he hasn’t even noticed additional 600 KM of monthly income and that he will rebuke his rights to this allowance. Then, just four days after the publication of the text, he suddenly claimed that he stopped using the right to compensation for an apartment and a separate life “a few months ago” and these facts don’t match at all.
In addition, Kaplan’s statements regarding the period when he “lost the moral right” to this compensation aren’t consistent either. In his interview, he told CIN that he moved to the newly bought apartment in Vogosca in early 2014. However, in his later statement, Kaplan claimed that he was only living there for a few months. But even the amount of 6.600 KM he decided to “return” (i.e. donate), equals to 11 months of disputed compensations, which is much more than “a few months” he mentioned. This would be in line with his claim that he moved into his apartment in early 2014, but not with the later claim that he stopped receiving the allowance a few months ago.
On the other hand, Kaplan’s neighbors told CIN that he has been living in Vogosca since the beginning of 2013. If the statements of his neighbors are true, Kaplan should have “returned” not 6.600, but 13.800 KM of received allowances.
Just four days after the publication of the article, on December 29th, Nasa Stranka reported this case to the Prosecutor's Office of Kanton Sarajevo and, according to their press statements, the investigation of abuse of public office has already started. Whatever the outcome of the investigation might be, it is clear that Minister Kaplan tried to mislead the public with his inconsistent and untrue statements, ending up lost in his own fabrications about the whole case.