Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency on Thursday adopted a budget increase for state institutions, but the Serb member of the body disagreed with it and said it would not pass in parliament, as it would damage the Serb-dominated part of the country.
Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said he was “outvoted” on the issue by the other two Presidency members. He said he asked for Bosnia’s Government, officially called the Council of Ministers, to be formed first.
The Council of Ministers has not been formed since October 2018 mostly because of the bickering between the winning parties over the country’s intention to join NATO – something Bosnian Serbs now vehemently oppose although the country submitted a request to join.
Bosnia has previously pursued NATO membership but in recent years Bosnian Serb leadership, namely Milorad Dodik and his Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), have changed their mind.
The next candidate for the prime minister should have come from the SNSD but the Bosniak and Croat Presidency members refuse to greenlight him, arguing that he would breach the law if he would not implement previous decisions.
The previous Council of Ministers is currently in a technical mandate and Dodik said it “does not have legitimacy” for proposing a budget for state-level institutions.
“We cannot accept an increase of the budget by 18 million Bosnian Marks compared to last year, because we believe that it is detrimental to Republika Srpska (RS, Bosnia’s Serb-dominated semi-autonomous entity),” he told ATV.
“The higher the budget of Bosnia is, the smaller are our possibilities and we cannot accept any increase,” he argued on behalf of Republika Srpska.
Before serving in the state Presidency, Dodik was for years either Prime Minister or President of the RS and advocated for the secession of the entity.
Dodik explained that the decision on the budget would have to be discussed by a parliamentary commission for finances which has not yet been formed.
“The budget will enter the parliament, but there is no commission, there is no majority to vote on it. Even if it passes in parliament, I say this now – that increase of 18 million (Bosnian Marks) will not pass in the House of Peoples,” he said, referring to the upper house.
Dodik announced a boycott of presidential and government decisions as long as a new government is not formed.
“In principle, none of their decisions will pass in the House of Peoples,” he said.
“What do they expect? That someone from Europe will come and make us decide? I tell them now that nobody will make us do it and no proposal coming from the current Council of Ministers or any future one if it is made this way,” he said.
The main Bosniak party in the country, the Party for Democratic Action (SDA), welcomed the Presidency decision and called upon Dodik’s Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) to “stop blocking the parliament.”
“The demands by the unions of police officers for budget adoption, which includes raises for several thousand members of police agencies at the state-level (SIPA, the Border Police, the Directorate for Coordination of police bodies) is understandable,” the party said.
“It is impermissible that SNSD parliamentarians receive several times bigger salaries although they do not attend sessions, while at the same time blocking salary increases for those who are doing an extraordinarily demanding job, daily protecting the safety of the citizens, including those very same parliamentarians,” the party said.
“If Milorad Dodik and the SNSD decide to prevent the adoption of the budget, that will confirm that they are part of a group of rich politicians who don’t care about the rights of common people, and that they are ready to push the country into a crisis and prevent a rise of the living standard of people across Bosnia for the sake of their party interests,” it concluded.