Number 1 in the World

BY: MSc Ajka Rov?anin, Institute for Youth Development KULT

Bosnia and Herzegovina got first place. But being first doesn’t always mean being the best. Case in point: the International Labour Organisation ranked BiH as number 1, thanks to the 67.5% unemployment rate for our workforce in the 15-24 age group, who are unemployed but can and want to work. ILO data allow us to compare 232 countries and their latest data is for March 2017.

Other countries in top five are, respectively, the South African country Swaziland, the South African Republic, our neighbor Macedonia and the Asian country of Oman. It’s interesting to note that Spain and Greece, who used to be at the top with us have made progress and moved down. Greece is now in 8th place with 47.4% and Spain is 17th with 39.8%. other neighboring countries placed significantly better: Montenegro is 22nd with 36%, Serbia is 27th with 33,7% Albania is 28 with 33,6% and Croatia is 42nd with 29,4%. These are approximately two times lower than BiH. As expected, some of the lowest unemployment rates are those of Western European countries, where the youth of BiH are continuously and intensively moving, probably never to come back. Sweden’s unemployment rate is 18.7%, Slovenia 15.4%, Austria 10.6%, Norway 10.4%, Switzerland 8.1% and Germany 6.1%.

We don’t know exactly how many young people have left. There are assumptions, estimates and partial data, but we don’t have a unique, systematic way to record this data. The 773,850 young people from the census in 2013 are certainly not all in BiH in 2018. We are also lacking a model or systemic solution to maintain links and communication with youth, especially those with higher education, who found jobs abroad. With this in mind, it’s no wonder the World Economic Forum placed BiH as 136th out of 138 countries in terms of attracting and selecting highly qualified workforce from abroad (1.59 out of a total of 7 points). In this case, the worst ranked are at the bottom, not the top.

In their February progress report for BiH, the International Monetary Fund lowered their prognosis of economic growth from 3.5% to 3.2% in 2018, listing as the main reason the continuous brain drain of young and educated people in search of jobs that they can’t find here. IMF warns that “the demographic crunch in the labour market is a real threat to Bosnia’s long-term growth prospects”. This simple statement is not easily ignored or forgotten, and highlights the urgent and obvious need for an overhaul of the legislative framework concerning the economy.

Self-employment, i.e. starting your own business, is very similar to employment. This indicator allows us to compare ourselves to other countries. It was designed by the World Bank to measure ease of doing business, which they do every year. Better scores will get you a top spot in this ranking too. In 2017, BiH was 86th out of 190 countries. It was a step back from the previous year, when it ranked 7 places higher. It’s the lowest rated country out of all the countries in the region. Macedonia is 11th, Kosovo 40th, Montenegro 42nd, Serbia 43rd, Croatia 51st and Albania 65th. Even some neighboring countries are very close to Western Europe when it comes to ease of doing business. Norway is 8th, Sweden is 10th, Germany is 20th, Austria is 22nd, Switzerland is 33rd and Slovenia is 37th.

One of the indicators in this methodology is taxes. BiH is 137th out of 190 countries. All other countries in the region rank better – Macedonia is 29th and Kosovo is 45th. BiH business owners have to pay taxes 33 times a year. They pay VAT by the 10th day of every month. If they issued an invoice to their customer, even if they don’t collect payment in months, years, or ever, they still have to pay what they owe to the state by the 10th day of every month.


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