Minister Claims System for Reporting Environmental Issues Is State-Owned, Documents Prove Otherwise

21 Jul 2022
Minister Irena Vujović making a speech; photo: Ministry of Environmental Protection
Even though the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s documentation states that they can only use the system for reporting environmental issues, for which they paid 2.6 million EUR, because copyright ownership is in the hands of the company Tcom that created it, Minister Irena Vujović claims that the system is owned by the state.

Two days after CINS and BIRN reported that the Ministry of Environmental Protection does not own the expensive system for reporting environmental issues, but that it is owned by the company that developed it, Minister Irena Vujović has denied this.

In addition to praising gReact, Vujović denied that they were not the owners in an elaborate post on her Instagram profile.

“No matter how much they try to diminish the importance of the environmental information system with their fallacies, they cannot dispute the fact that the gReact software is exclusively owned by the state – by the Ministry of Environmental Protection to be precise, and not a private company as some would claim,” Vujović wrote.

She says such claims are a sign of “nerves in certain camps”.

However, the documentation of the Ministry she is in charge of shows otherwise.

In fact, tender documentation concerning the upgrade of gReact, analyzed by CINS and BIRN, stipulates that it is necessary to transfer the right of use to the Ministry:

“The bidder, together with the copyright holder, is obliged to provide the customer with non-exclusive and non-transferable rights of using the gReact system on the installed software in the territory of the Republic of Serbia, without any additional obligations of the customer towards the copyright holder”.

The copyright holder, according to the documents, is the company Tcom.

Experts in copyright and property law explain that the fact that the Ministry paid 309 million RSD (2.6 million EUR) for a system that it does not own can be interpreted as if public money was invested in the product of a private company – a product that the company can sell to third parties, while the Ministry can only be its user.

Minister loud on Instagram, silent when asked by journalists

Why was it necessary to upgrade gReact only a few months after the system was put into operation? Why was gReact launched in the first place when there a system for reporting environmental had already existed? Why does the “news” section on the mobile phone app serve to publish promotional texts about Minister Vujović? These are just some of the questions we sent to the Ministry in previous months.

We have yet to receive any answers.

As a reminder, CINS and BIRN’s investigation revealed that three years after the introduction of a system through which citizens could report environmental issues to inspection, the Ministry introduced a completely new system – gReact. The company Tcom won a job worth 165 million RSD on a controversial tender, and just four months after the system’s launch, it signed another contract with the Ministrythis time for an upgrade worth an additional 144 million RSD.

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The production of this story was supported by the Open Society Foundation, Serbia. The content of the story is the sole responsibility of CINS and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Open Society Foundation, Serbia. 


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