“Politically, we’re seeing a continuation of last year – even though the Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina still has no government, at least the Bosnian Council of Ministers got formed,“ Says Olodar Prebanic, Partner at Prebanic & Jusufbasic-Goloman in Sarajevo. “This is a reflection of the situation in the entire country – the legislative pipeline is frozen, and there are no significant acts being passed on a Federal level."
Thing are running a bit smoother in Republika Srpska, he says, due to the local government there being formed almost immediately following the 2018 elections. “There have been laws enacted in Republika Srpska that are already paying dividends in terms of easing the doing of business – including, first and foremost, the law that enabled legal entities to be incorporated electronically.“ Still, there are constant political clashes, and Prebanic states that “just recently the Canton of Sarajevo saw its government fall apart.“
Prebanic points out that, even though there are hurdles to long term strategic growth in the country, there is a “positive movement – especially with some projects that possess the capacity to create further value.“ In terms of construction projects, he says, “Sarajevo is seeing a strong boom, a few motorway projects – towards the Adriatic and another towards Serbia – have come unstuck after a lengthy tender process. Also, there is a large thermal power plant project in Tuzla, which I believe to be one of the biggest projects yet.“
In addition, Prebanic reports, “one of the most significant projects yet to take place in Bosnia & Herzegovina – the carbohydrate research related to oil and gas – is in the final stages of its tender process. This holds a lot of potential for economic growth and development and has the potential to spill over to other sectors of the economy.“
According to Prebanic, “it is expected that this year will bring an end to the ongoing conflict between lawyers and public notaries in the Federation," which he believes would provide a much more conducive environment for doing business. Still, he concedes, this would require «a whole lot of legislative changes, most notably in terms of cadastral and notary laws.“
Finally, he refers to recent charges that have been brought against the Prosecutor General of Bosnia & Herzegovina. “While these charges are secret, I can say that they have to do with irregularities in performing the duties of the Prosecutor General, illegal expenditures, and having unauthorized personnel conduct investigations.“ Prebanic thinks that these proceedings are a good thing and a sign that “it is possible to criticize the work of the highest state bodies and to hold them accountable.“