Shady competitions of the Ministry of Family Care

In 2021, the Ministry of Family Care and Demography allocated a total of 658 million dinars via various competitions.

Most of the money was given to organisations unknown to the public, the same ones that had won a similar competition in 2014, which was later suspended due to abuse of office.

The Belgrade suburb of Jakovo has about 6,000 inhabitants, and here at least five non-governmental organisations have received almost 130 million dinars, or over one million euros, this year alone from the various government competitions. According to the database of BIRN, this year, a total of 658 million dinars were awarded in the competitions launched by the Ministry of Family Care with 107 organisations receiving government funding.

BIRN’s analysis shows that most of the money went to 18 organisations that received the maximum amount of over nine million dinars three times each. The same 18 organisations received 450 million dinars, about 70% of the total money allocated, the other 89 organisations about 200 million.

The 18 organisations have been participating in the competition since 2014, conducted by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, which had then been suspended due to abuse of office. Among these 18 organisations, two are located on the outskirts of Jakovo, in houses opposite each other. Together they received 59 million dinars this year.

Across the street, another citizens’ association is registered, with Biljana Čakovan as its director. This year, this association received a total of 29.5 million for domestic violence prevention projects. Biljana’s husband, Slobodan Čakovan, as the representative of an association located in Novi Beograd, also received 25.3 million dinars for a project supporting young people and women which brings the total to over 84 million dinars.

In addition to Biljana Čakovan, Tatjana Borojević, representing the Panacea Association, received 29 million dinars, while the association led by her sister, Biljana Ratkovic, received 26.1 million dinars. If we add all of this up, it turns out that one family got a total of 55 million dinars in government funding.

In 2014, the ‘Panacea’ Association was at the centre of an affair concerning alleged abuses in the competition organised by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, then headed by Aleksandar Vulin, a competition that was later cancelled. In 2014, the Ministry of Labour had distributed 226 million dinars in various competitions. Seven years later, the Ministry dealing with family care and demography donated three times more, a total of 658 million; most of the money was given to the same protagonists as in 2014.

During 2021, in four competitions, three of them open-ended ones conducted by the Ministry of Family Care, a total of 107 organisations received money (658 million dinars). The analysis shows that of these 107 organisations, the 18 received up to three times more money than before.

“The point is that a small number of organisations that do something valuable received an insignificant percentage of funds, and others that no one has ever heard of, have been given the rest of the money,” said Nadežda Satarić from Amity, the most important Serbian social policy association.

“Amity asked for 2.5 million dinars and received 600,000 for a project aimed at opening a facility for people with dementia. There are 20,000 people with dementia in Belgrade who need day care. The idea was for people with dementia to be cared for seven days a week, whereas the money we got is enough to last us one day. So, we decided to volunteer,” says Nadežda Satarić.

She adds that after the competition, she sent an official complaint and a request for information on the projects that received money, but the complaint was rejected because the deadline for appeal had expired.

The analysis shows that out of 30 organisations that received on average more than 10 million dinars from the government, 24 are registered in the territory of Belgrade. 25 out of 30 of them do not have an official website, 26 do not have a Facebook page and 27 do not have an Instagram page.

The Law on Associations obliges organisations that receive funds from the budget to write a report once a year about their work and on the purposes and methods of acquiring and using funds. The fact that these organizations are invisible on the Internet also calls into question how will the women who are the victims of domestic violence or people from socially vulnerable groups going to contact them.

(BIRN, 29.11.2021)




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