Citizens have expressed outrage over the increase in fuel prices in both of Bosnia's semi-autonomous entities, and it is a phenomenon that shows that they want to be involved in finding a solution, Bosnia's Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations, Mirko Sarovic, told N1.
People have been staging protests in several cities across Bosnia daily. Roads were blocked in Tuzla, Banja Luka, Sarajevo and Zenica on Sunday, as well as on Monday and Tuesday in Banjaluka.
Transportation companies said they would mobilize people in this way daily at the same time until authorities start listening to their demands. The protesters said an acceptable price for them would be between 1.50 and 1.70 Bosnian marks (EUR 0.75-0.85).
Sarovic said that citizens have shown that they "are not asleep and that they don't count on the consciousness of politicians". He said that decision makers need to investigate whether fuel prices are being discussed by "cartels," and if so, they should intervene, although government intervention in prices is "unpopular".
The Minister said it was not only last year's excise tax increase that contributed to the rise in fuel prices, but also the prices of fuel on the global market.
"The budgets profited the most. More than BAM 100 million (EUR 53,4 million) was poured into the joint (state) account from the excise tax," he said, explaining that the entity levels of government have profited the most and that there is the possibility that this money can be returned to the citizens and the economy.
"I don't think that there should be calls for a rebellion, but the government must tend to the citizens and react. If it does not, then we could have problems," he said.
Sarovic also said that citizens perceive that "what is happening in their lives is not OK" and that ways on how to decrease the fuel price have to be discussed.
"If the price is lowered by 1 Pfenning, it will show that the citizens were correct. I would never call the citizens hooligans over it," he said, adding that he himself waited in a traffic in Sarajevo for an hour during the protest.
"I understood it as citizens not having any other way to say that they are dissatisfied," he said.
The Minister also said that limiting the prices of fuel is a legal possibility, but not the best option.