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The Foreign Investors Council of BiH (VSI) held a presentation of the 2nd edition of the publication “Business Barometer” at City Hall, thus marking 12 years of active work on improving the business climate and environment in BiH.

The “Business Barometer» comprises results of survey conducted among members of the Council (the biggest foreign investors and many domestic companies), i.e. an overview of statistical data on the (dis)satisfaction with the business environment and condition in BiH, the obstacles and risks faced by business owners, the advantages and reasons for investing in BiH and their plans for reinvesting and generating jobs in BiH. The results will be used to improve the business environment, regulatory framework and administrative efficiency, and the position of domestic and foreign investors. The Council noted that they expect the results of the survey presented in this publications to be used as the groundwork and guidelines for making future decisions and economic policies, including tax and contribution policies, improving the rule of law, and encouraging investments in BiH, by current and potential investors.

On the occasion of their anniversary, the Council decided to donate 12,000 BAM, i.e. 4000 BAM each to the following associations: “Heart for Children with Cancer in FBiH” and “Iskra” Banja Luka (Association of parents of children with malignant illnesses) and 4,000 BAM for the purchase of 20 Mbot robots for elementary schools in BiH.

The event was attended by a representative of the Institute for Youth Development KULT.

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%.


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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.


 

In March 2018, the World Bank in BiH presented the results of their survey “Collecting evidence of inclusive growth and jobs generated in the Western Balkans: Gender prism”, discussing employment opportunities for women.


The focus was on women’s entrepreneurship. It was concluded that women in BiH face numerous obstacles on the labor market and in entrepreneurship, which is a significant economic loss for the country.


The presentation included detailed data on women’s access to funds for launching a business, based on a sample of 542 businesses surveyed between 2016 and 2017. It was noted that micro, small and medium-sized businesses run by women play a crucial role in generating jobs, while encouraging women’s participation in the economy and strengthening the inclusive growth of GDP. In BiH, women-led business are focused in low productivity sector, and smaller on average than businesses run by men.


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One of the key obstacles to women’s entrepreneurship is the perception that entrepreneurship is a “man’s” activity. Women-run businesses face more obstacles in terms of access to funds. Their businesses have a harder time increasing profitability, seizing opportunities and accessing information and advice.


The event was attended by representatives of the Institute for Youth Development KULT.


More details on this research are available here: www.worldbank.org/en/events/2018/03/13/gender-in-thewestern-balkans


 

“The fact that 88% of youth want to leave the Una-Sana Canton is a clear indicator that they don’t have a good life in this country – said Jasmin Beši?, Executive Director of the Institute for Youth Development KULT during the Business Forum “Unburdening the Economy to Create Jobs”, held in Biha?, on March 7, 2018.


One of the messages from the Forum was the only way to keep youth in this country is improving the economy, making it easier to launch businesses and reducing the taxes and fees burdening business owners.


“This country and the economy can’t function without youth, because they’re the ones who generate funds for the budget and build the country. We have to do everything in our power to make it easier for them to find jobs, start their own business and create an environment they will want to live in. Youth leaving is not the problem, it’s the consequence of problems that have piled up over the years.” – said Jasmin Beši?, Executive Director of the Institute for Youth Development KULT.


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The participants – business owners, government representatives, representatives of NGOs and the academia – discussed the burdens hindering the growth and development of the economy in FBiH, and in the Una-Sana Canton in particular, options for addressing them, and initiatives and activities implemented as economic reforms.


The Forum also galvanized discussions on employment and self-employment programs, especially for youth, and the opportunities and obstacles in the process of launching a business. It included a presentation of an analysis of budget incentives for boosting the economy for 2012-2015, and the initiative of BiH business owners to introduce the VAT cash accounting scheme.


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“The Una-Sana Canton is making every effort to improve employment rates and the our citizens’ standard of living, especially young people’s. We implemented a series of measures, adopted a Youth Strategy of the USC, and we are willing to take steps to prevent youth from leaving, which is a burning issue in the whole country, not just this canton.” – said Husein Roši?, Prime Minister of the Government of Una-Sana Canton.


During the Forum, the participants presented examples of good practice, showcasing youth who launched and are managing their own business, and talked about problems that must be solved in order to create a more business-friendly environment.


“I launched a company and I’m fighting to stay in business. I’m disappointed that myself and other entrepreneurs don’t have the support of this country and the system. We’re not expecting financial support, but I have to say that we don’t even get advice or any benefits when launching our business.” – said Elvedin Veli?, founder of Agro Veli? d.o.o. from Velika Kladuša.


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The Business Forum is intended for business owners and dedicated to issues relating to the economy. It was organized by the Institute for Youth Development KULT and the Ministry of Economy of the Una-Sana Canton. 


The Business Forum was organized by the Institute for Youth Development KULT, as one of the activities of the â€śBH Business Site” initiative implemented by the Institute for Youth Development KULT since 2014, within the Civil Society Sustainability Project (CSSP) managed by the Centers for Civic Initiatives (CCI) and the Civil Society Promotion Center (CPCD), and supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).


Previous business forums were held in Tešanj, Bijeljina, Neum and Tuzla.



 

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