On 11 April, EU in BiH and U.S. Embassy in BiH hosted a meeting with political representatives to remove political blockages and focus their minds on dealing with the socio economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis. We thought we succeeded – but now that the 330 million Euro RFI sits idle in the Central Bank while citizens suffer, we see otherwise.
On 23 April the BiH Council of Ministers (CoM) issued a decision authorizing a promissory note that unlocked the transfer of the 330-million-Euro from the IMF to BiH. This same decision, however required a second special decision to allocate the funds in accordance with the Letter of Intent sent from BiH to the IMF. The CoM has yet to issue this second decision and the funds sit idle in the Central Bank. This is incomprehensible to BiH citizens, but also to international partners. The IMF agreement was with the two Entities and District, distribution of funds to Cantons is a decision made at the Entity level, and was accomplished when the Federation passed its budget rebalance.
The international community has reacted swiftly and decisively to provide medical support and designing programmes for economic support. The world economy faces a slump and so does BiH. The effects are being felt by countless citizens and businesses. BiH authorities must take decisive and timely actions to preserve jobs, offer social assistance to those affected the most, and to support economic growth and the development this country desperately needs. This includes agreement on using the 330-million-Euro in assistance from the IMF.
BiH politicians should immediately unblock the IMF funds so they can be used for the good of the citizens. The solution is simple, the CoM should issue the second decision authorizing the disbursement according to the agreement captured in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), without embellishment. Acting decisively now will send a sign to the outside world that BiH politicians are responsible partners to their citizens in dealing with the challenges the country will face.