According to the latest data, unemployment in Bosnia-Herzegovina now stands at around 40%. That is a level that can severely damage a country’s economy and social order and stability. The Bosnian government must therefore implement requisite measures without delay.
It is not as easy as people think for a country that has just emerged from a major war and that has problems with establishing national integrity to do that. However, since the problem affects the Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats in the country equally, the solution must also benefit all three communities. It is therefore of great importance to act together on the subject of measures to bring unemployment levels down.
The problem of unemployment in Bosnia-Herzegovina is in fact linked to increasing investment in the country. Regrettably, Bosnia lacks the accumulated capital to engage in major investments to reduce unemployment, and therefore there is no alternative to investment from overseas.
The energy sector offers important opportunities for increased overseas investment in Bosnia. Bosnia-Herzegovina has rich coal beds and plenty of regularly flowing rivers. The country’s climate and geographical structure support its thermal and hydropower potential in terms of energy investments. Thermal and hydroelectric stations built to use that potential can represent an important source of revenues in terms of creating new areas of employment and of exporting electricity.
In order to make full use of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s rich energy resources, some of the first steps the government needs to take are as follows;
· The initiation of a reform process aimed at harmonizing the energy market with competition and free enterprise criteria,
· Various technical and legal amendments to make the employment market attractive to potential investors,
· Incentives and regulations for potential investments in the country,
· Preventing negative effects on investment decisions resulting from the tripartite administration system such as the slow and cumbersome decision-making processes,
· Full institutionalization of the energy market by the government and the overcoming of relevant legal gaps in this area,
· Guarantees of minimum purchase prices by the public sector for electricity to be produced,
· A free trade agreement with various countries to facilitate exports of electricity produced and further investment,
· The establishment of an effective regulatory mechanism to prevent the high pollution potential of thermal power stations and ensuring that contracts for new stations protect the environment,
· Hydroelectric stations being built in places where they cannot damage nature or historic sites,
· The preparation of laws governing renewal energy sources and investment in hydroelectric and thermal power stations,
· Encouragement of foreign capital in the country as a whole in order to accelerate growth and development,
· Ensuring that revenues from investments are used for new investments that will benefit all three communities,
· Full transparency in investment processes and operation as well as the establishment of effective regulation and sanction mechanisms against the possibility of misuse of position or corruption,
· Investments with countries with experience on this subject capable of providing attractive offers: Turkey both possesses considerable experience and can carry out projects at a much lower cost then either Europe or the USA.
It is essential to be very careful to ensure that no damage is done by investments to Bosnia’s rich natural environment. Energy investments must not be allowed to harm the country’s tourism potential and natural resources. The country’s energy resources therefore need to be enriched with renewable resources.
If all these points are taken into account, this will lead to a major increase in employment and revenues for Bosnia-Herzegovina. Investments resulting from rational policies with contributions from all three ethnic components will strengthen internal peace and stability in the country. All sides must therefore be careful not to make potential investments in the country the subjects of conflict or rivalry. If energy resources can be well used, a Bosnia that combines a powerful economy, natural beauty and different religious and ethnic components can become a successful model for peace in the Balkans.
Adnan Oktar's piece on The Bosnia Times & MBC Times: