On Sunday, 9th of November representatives of the DF, SDA and Savez za promjene (SDS, PDP and NDP) signed the “Program Principles for Action in the Legislative and Executive Authorities” agreement for the period of 2014-2018, indicating the possibility of forming a coalition of these parties at the state level. The agreement of DF and SDA about the coalition on the FBiH level was signed also by HDZ BiH on Wednesday, 19th of November. Istinomjer’s team has analyzed to what extend the promises from the election campaign of the program signatory parties agree with the principles of the signed documents.
Stabilization of public finances and reduction of public spending
All signatory parties, according to what they claimed in their pre-election programs, agree that it is necessary to reform the public administration in order to reduce the costs of overgrown state apparatus. Reducing expenditure on wages and salaries of employees in the public administration was specifically proposed in several pre-election programs. In those terms, this is what could be expected from the coalition:
– urgent adoption of measures to reduce salaries and other privileges of state deputies
– reduction of salaries of directors of public companies and enterprises
– revision and redefinition of overlapping competencies of state agencies.
Improving the state of the economy and employment
As expected, most of the promises were made in the fields of economy and employment, and these are the issues that the programs agree on to the highest extend. In the dispersion of many promises, they match mostly in the issues related to the reduction of the number of permits and cutting the time required to start a business, investment in small and medium enterprises, the introduction of tax incentives to investors and attracting foreign investment. Thus in the future we should expect:
– adoption of regulations that will shorten the procedure of opening companies in BiH
– simplification of the investment process in BiH
– adoption of amendments to the Law on VAT, which would amend the deadline for tax payment
– introduction of differentiated VAT rates
All parties that have signed the agreement, agree that the future of BiH lays within the EU and that it is necessary to unblock the integration process as soon as possible. Given that this issue was one of the major stumbling blocks in the previous term, it will certainly be an ultimate test for each state-level coalition in this term. Since every party in this coalition, at least declaratively, sees BiH in the EU, what should be expected at the state level is:
– reaching a solution on the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of “Sejdić-Finci”
– reaching agreement on coordination mechanisms with the EU
Perspective military property
Solving the distribution of perspective army property in BiH is another programming principle which will test the future coalition at the state level, no matter what parties make it. It should be noted that signatories to “Programs and Principles” disagree in terms of settlement of this issue, with the programs of SDA and DF aliging on one side, and NDP’s program on the other. However, as these parties signed the document on program principles, we might expect:
– registration of 63 perspective military facilities on the state level in accordance with the Decision on Amendments to the Decision on the size, structure and locations of the AF BiH from January 2008
Efficient fight against corruption and crime
The fight against corruption and crime was also one of the issues parties dealt with in great detail in their pre-election programs, and we could expect coalitions’ engagement on the following issues:
– implementation of already existing strategies and legal solutions for fighting corruption
– establishment of one or more agencies to deal with corruption and confiscation of illegally acquired property
– revision of privatization processes
Dealing with consequences of floods
Given the significant property damage that occurred as a result of spring floods in BiH, it is understandable that this issue found its place in the program document. However, this topic is addressed only in SDA’s program, which states that, in addition to an up-to-date and efficient operation of the Fund for aid, they will push for a free allocation of construction land to all who were left homeless, granting the necessary permits for the construction of houses without the administrative fees, and granting insurance and utility connections for flooded without charging them.
The implementation of Annex VII of the Dayton Peace Agreement
The process of completing the return of the displaced persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina is also an issue raised in the document on program principles, and it was part of the programs of the majority of signatory parties. Taking into account that very few Croats returned to the RS, it is interesting that this wasn’t a topic in the program of HDZ BiH.
If we look at parties’ programs in relation to the program principle of this coalition, we can expect:
– closing of all collective centers in BiH
– public jobs for the returnees
– free legal assistance for returnees
– compensation for damages resulting from the war
– financial support and stimulation of companies owned by returnees
Ensuring equality of constituent peoples and citizens
When it comes to granting equal constitutional rights to the citizens and constituent peoples of BiH, the parties had a different approach to this issue in their programs. Therefore, the only thing we can expect is an adoption of minor amendments to the Constitution, which would harmonize the positions of all citizens and constituent peoples in the process of candidacy and election. Such changes would be likely to meet the requirements of the EU towards BiH.
Expectations would include:
– re-opening a dialogue on this topic
– equalization of the position of representatives of all constituent peoples and of all citizens in the process of candidacy and election
Appointments to public positions
The principle of selecting and appointing public officials based on competency, merit and plans on how to rationalize and improve efficiency of public administration, was presented only in DF’s program. This party claims it is necessary to regulate the system of appointing of independent and professional management of public companies, with a clear separation of ownership and regulatory role of the state.
These would be the main principles, goals and potential outcomes of the “Program Principles” signatories, if they form a ruling state-level coalition. It remains to be seen if the political practice will once again drift from the proclaimed goals, or finally stay in line with the programs and produce some long awaited real results.