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Although the Contract Between UKOM and STA Has Ended, Director Veselinovič Sent an Invoice to UKOM Again, in the Amount of 169 Thousand Euros!

“The Slovenian Press Agency (Slovenska tiskovna agencija – referred to as the STA) has been waiting for payment from the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for the performed public service for 31 days now. There are 65 days left before the 30th anniversary of the STA. Will we get there?” was the title of the first article published on the STA’s website on Tuesday. The saga of the STA and the Government Communication Office (Urad Vlade Republike Slovenije za komuniciranje – referred to as UKOM) cannot seem to come to an end. Despite trying to create the impression of the Government and UKOM going after STA in public, with the help of mainstream media, the fact is that all of this is happening simply because the STA director Bojan Veselinovič does not want to send the required documents to UKOM, on the basis of which payment could be made. This is what is unnecessarily jeopardising the operating of the agency and its employees.

On the 27th of January 2021, the Government Communication Office fulfilled all of its obligations to the STA in accordance with their contract for the provision of public service. Regardless of the fulfilment of all obligations from the contract, signed by the former director of UKOM and the current director of STA, Bojan Veselinovič, the latter has not sent the required documents to this day, even though he should have sent them, in accordance with the obligations from the signed contract.

In February, UKOM also received a letter from the STA journalist, stating that their salaries remained unchanged after Veselinovič’s arrival at the agency in 2009, so somewhere between 1200 and 1300 euros. On the same day as the letter arrived, the information was also made public that the director Veselinovič pays an additional 5 euros per article to certain part-time employees. Given the fact that the STA pays about 8 thousand euros a month for director Veselinovič, this kind of treatment of the journalists, if the data is, in fact, true, is unacceptable and should be rejected, UKOM pointed out. However, as the director of the STA has still not provided the required documentation, the matter, unfortunately, could not be verified at all.

With this, it is worth pointing out the words of the lawyer and member of the STA Supervisory Board, Radovan Cerjak, who told Nova24TV that ever since he joined the Slovenian Press Agency Supervisory Board in October last year, he has had a feeling that he is being blocked from supervision. “When I requested certain documents on several occasions, there was always a thousand and one problems, which meant that I could not get the said documents. For example, I once asked to see the employment contract of the director of the company, Mr. Bojan Veselinovič. The contract was handed to us at the meeting of the Supervisory Board, and after a minute or two, it was snatched from my hands. A similar thing happened with the price list.” Cerjak pointed out that supervision cannot be done this way.

The contractual relationship between UKOM and STA has ended The fact that UKOM is a “representative of the founder” is clear from the contract for the provision of public service for 2020, and the director of the STA Veselinovič had no problems with this while he was receiving money from UKOM. Interestingly, he no longer agreed with this when he was supposed to hand over the STA’s financial documentation to UKOM. Therefore, with the last payment that was made at the beginning of 2021, any contractual relationship between UKOM and the STA ended, so it almost seems unbelievable that the director of the STA, Veselinovič, once again sent the Government Communication Office an invoice in the amount of 169 thousand euros for the public service activities performed in February of this year.

It is important to note that UKOM has not signed any legal document on the basis of which it would have been able to pay the invoices sent to it by companies with which it has no regulated contractual relationship. It has now become very clear that the STA director Veselinovič, regardless of the situation and various explanations, does not want to submit the documentation that would resolve many of the current issues and enable the normal operating of the agency, as they would then be able to sign a new contract. And what is more, he is clearly announcing on the website that he wants to close the agency in the next two months. UKOM expects that the STA Supervisory Board will act immediately, in accordance with its powers and responsibilities.

Nina Žoher

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