Nepotism plagues public institutions

Knowledge and education are not enough to find a job in public institutions in Kosovo. Instead, political affiliation and family connections are the first conditions for employment in them. For instance, in the Ministry of Economic Development there are cases that proves this.

“Koha Ditore” reports that Leonita Shabani-Mullarama, former advisor of the Minister of Economic Development, Besim Beqaj, and also spokeswoman for the ministry, has returned to work as a civil servant in the ministry. Shabani-Mullarama has been part of the political staff in each ministry that Beqaj has led in the last government. Initially she was employed in the Ministry of European Integration, then in the Ministry of Economic Development, and lastly in the Ministry of Finance. Former Minister of Finance Beqaj has not been elected in ministerial posts in this term and is currently an MP from the ranks of the Democratic Party of Kosovo.

Shabani-Mullarama had applied earlier for leading positions in the Ministry of Economic Development, but the Independent Oversight Board for Civil Services of Kosovo has come to the conclusion that “she did not meet the criteria required for the vacancy, namely the criteria of work experience in managerial and professional experience after graduation”. A similar assessment regarding the working experience was also given for the other candidate for this position, Ilir Rama. After this assessment, the Ministry of Economic Development has canceled the competition in question.

However, two weeks later, MED opened another vacancy for a position with the coefficient 8. For this position only an unspecified university degree and 3 years of work experience are required. MED needed only one week to evaluate the applications and to hire the former adviser to the minister, Leonita Shabani-Mullarama, notice of which was published on the website of the Ministry of Economic Development on September 1. She has not started to work in that position yet, as she needs to wait for the termination of the period of appeal granted to candidates who applied for this vacancy but were not selected. 

The Ministry of Economic Development has also made other violations during the recruitment of staff. The Independent Oversight Board for Civil Service of Kosovo has found violations in the selection process of Fitore Mataj as Head of Department for the promotion and development of projects. The Council concluded that MED has committed a double violation in the competition for this vacancy. MED originally opened the external competition before the internal one.

“For managerial positions and senior managerial positions, admission is conducted through the promotion of existing civil servants. If there are no candidates from the existing civil servants, the admission is opened to all interested parties”, reads the article 18 paragraph 3 of the Law on Civil Service, which is cited in the decision of the Independent Oversight Board. 

The council also found that MED has wrongly assessed work experience, one of the criteria of the competition. It was found that neither the person who was recommended for employment nor the person who appealed to the Council had enough work experience as required for the position.

MED said that the two competitions were cancelled by IOBCSK because the vacancy announcement should have first been made internally, and then opened for external recruitment. The ministry acknowledges that there was trouble in recruiting new staff. “From the beginning of 2015 until now MED has initiated nine recruitment procedures, of which four have been successfully completed and selected candidates were appointed in the respective positions by the Civil Service ad-hoc Selection Committees (CSSC). Two other recruitment procedures have been completed and the selection of the successful candidates was made public; we are currently awaiting the completion of the appeal process”, reads the response of the ministry.  

The website of the Ministry reports also about several other competitions that have been successfully completed, or are cancelled. F. Restelica is one of the employees of this ministry. She holds the position of “senior officer for electronic infrastructure”. The newspaper “Koha Ditore” has learnt that two of her family members are working currently in the ministry.

Such employment through family and political ties makes it impossible for many, qualified professionals to have the opportunity to contribute to Kosovo institutions. There are many cases of people who have studied in world-known universities, but they have failed to find a job in Kosovo’s institutions in absence of political or family ties. By rigging competitions, Kosovo institutions are going beyond the law and exploiting its weaknesses in their interests. Unfortunately, even when law enforcement was 100% correctly, there have been cases where the Independent Oversight Board for Civil Service has found violations of procedures, which appear to favour certain candidates.

Merita Berisha
Prishtina, September 2015