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Izetbegović: We need to focus on helping the economy and vulnerable population

Text: Hana Imamović

SARAJEVO, April 1 (FENA) - President of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) Bakir Izetbegović said today that the Federation of BiH Stabilization Law has a particular focus on supporting and assisting vulnerable groups of citizens and parts of the economy that are particularly vulnerable in this situation caused by Covid-19 pandemic.

In an interview with FENA, Izetbegović explained that the institutions will work on revising the budgets, reducing the levies that are not needed at the moment, from credit to various fiscal measures that will help to relieve pressure for all citizens and the economy.

"Budgets are being planned and it is now necessary to do the budget revision that will focus on the fight against coronavirus and on healthcare, and then on the recovery of the economy. It should not happen that parts of the economy in BiH be left to die in this situation," Izetbegović added, noting that a realistic budget revision needs to be done.

Recalling that the SDA has supported the measures so far, Izetbegović believes that they should be somewhat more precise when it comes to the moratorium on loan repayments, i.e., reliefs and partial moratorium on those who are unable to repay loans, and believes that the measures in this segment are not sufficiently precise and they need to be supplemented.

"In this situation, nervousness, panic, mutual accusations, populism, politicking, rivalries of politicians competing in promises usually happen, but all this must be avoided, aware of it and avoiding all the negative moments and elements. We should all unite in the fight against one enemy," said the SDA president.

Referring to the Stabilization Law of the Federation of BiH, he pointed out that it also applies to cantons and municipalities, and will address the same proposals for revising the budgets and funds in such a way as to dispense with what is not necessary at the moment and direct the funds to help citizens, help fight coronavirus, and help the economy.

He commented on the response of the BiH Council of Ministers at the time of the pandemic, saying that some ministries have done a good job, but stressed that the Chairman of the BiH Council of Ministers, Zoran Tegeltija, was not visible enough.

"I hope Tegeltija wakes up because as far as I know, he could do a good job in this situation, but we are still waiting for that to happen," says Izetbegović.

Bearing in mind that a pandemic will leave a scar on the economy, Izetbegović says that economic recovery will only be possible when the pandemic is in the downward trajectory, but it is ungrateful to predict when it could happen.

"My hope is that from now until September, we will solve the pandemic and the health care problem and that it will be in decline until then, in order to start a stronger recovery of economic activity afterward. Then in the next year we will be engaged in the reconstruction of the economy in order to reach the level we had in February this year," said Izetbegović, adding that citizens should prepare for it.

He assessed that the citizens of BiH are patient, that the people in BiH have learned to survive much worse things, and that discipline is crucial in this situation.

"Our economy is tough. Businesses who have been building BiH in the last 20 years have, without special help and support, created very successful companies in very unfavorable conditions. They will endure this and recover, and we also have great resources," Izetbegović said.

The SDA leader has warned that the so-called "economic bloodstream" will slow down, causing budgets to be cut in half, and it is unrealistic and selfish to assume that high salaries would remain at that level. 

Izetbegović gave up two-thirds of his salary, wanting to send a message to the others as he believes that should be a measure implemented for all those who have high salaries.

"We must bear the pressure of the crisis in solidarity. No one should have high salaries and no one should be left without pay during the economic crisis in BiH. Budgets will be halved, salaries will have to be halved. The burden of reduced pay will have to be borne by those with high salaries. There should be no reduction for persons with average salary and lower," said Izetbegović.

Health care workers, police and civil protection service are on the front line of defense against the spread of the virus and they are defending the people of BiH, said Izetbegović, which is why they should be treated adequately.

"We have to prepare ourselves that this will not last for three months alone. We have suffered much worse and more difficult things. We all need to be disciplined and patient, help those who bear the greatest burden of the problem and get out of this crisis in a year or year and a half," the SDA President Bakir Izetbegović concluded in an interview with FENA.