Sarajevo, 27 July 2014.
Your Excellences, Minister Mogerini, Ambassador Sorensen, ladies and gentlemen,
A bit over two months, Bosnia and Herzegovina was hit by an unprecedented natural disaster in recent centuries. Damages are still being added up, the deceased mourned and the life of many of our fellow citizens has been on a standstill for more than two months.
On 24 May, the European Commission organised a forum to improve the economic situation in the country. In my address at the Forum, I stressed that the floods took a high toll – a toll that will be even greater.
Today, nearly two months after these words, we already have concrete data. Total current and estimated long-term damages amount to almost 4 billion USD. Recovery time period is at least three years.
In the last two months, the Council of Ministers has convened 14 sessions to discuss and undertake specific flood-related measures. In addition, thanks to hard work and dedication of everyone, the Fiscal Council of BiH adopted a new 2015-2017 Global Fiscal Framework as a prerequisite for the adoption of the 2015 budget to the effect of stabilising the overall economic situation in the country.
Also last week, a donor conference was held in Brussels for BiH and Serbia, where 138 million EUR in grants and 671 million Euros of loans were pledged for BiH. Thus, the total amount of international assistance for the population of BiH amounts to 809 million Euros, on top of the funds secured in the early days of floods.
However, it should now be taken into account that Bosnia and Herzegovina requires efforts on improving the basic economic parameters such as:
– Youth unemployment rate with a striking 59%;
– The highest rate of public spending on social benefits in the region;
– Low ranking according to the Corruption Perception Index, etc.
In my personal opinion, these and many other parameters can be solved in the following ways:
– Fierce combating against corruption, strengthening the rule of law, strengthening the transparency of operations, involving all stakeholders in the preparation of strategies to combat corruption
– Improving the business environment by investment in education and retraining of workforce, reducing the number of institutions required to obtain permits for business and start-ups, investing in the development of SMEs as the backbone of self-employment, improvement of export-oriented industries
– Social protection of all citizens towards more efficient and improved system performance
I believe that today’s continuation of the Forum in May and concrete measures to be presented by Ambassador Sorensen are a step in the right direction to assist citizens of this country. I wish you successful work and extend my full support to all those with best wishes of prosperity and peace for this country in their hearts.
Thank you for your attention.