The main Bosniak party in the country has a problem with the new government in Sarajevo Canton treating the budget as the property of the citizens rather than as personal “loot”, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) said on Thursday in response to statements Bosniak leader Bakir Izetbegovic gave N1 a day before.
The Party for Democratic Action (SDA) was in power in Sarajevo Canton nearly constantly since the end of the war.
This changed, however, in the October 2018 general election. Although the SDA received the most votes individually, a coalition of six parties formed a new government in Sarajevo without them.
The new ruling coalition is composed of the liberal Nasa Stranka (Our Party, NS), left-leaning the left Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Democratic Front (DF), the People and Justice party (NiP) which formed by a former SDA member, the Union for a Better Future (SBB) and the Independent Bosnian-Herzegovinian List (NBL).
Izetbegovic told N1 on Wednesday that Sarajevo Canton budget was “created by the government which was led by the SDA since the war” and that now “foreigners handed” it to the new government.
“It bothers me when you do a big part of the job and they remove you as the winner,” he said.
The Bosniak leader also commented on the praise coming from the international community for the new government in Sarajevo.
“They are always told what to say when they come, none of them can explain exactly what is good about this government,” Izetbegovic said, adding that he asked “one of those foreigners” why he thinks the new government is good.
“He said they have good ideas. But what have they done? They just sat on a budget which we left them,” the Bosniak leader said.
“The government at the state and Federation levels will not be formed until the issue of Sarajevo is solved. That will all be part of a package,” he said, adding that he is sure the leaders of the other parties in Sarajevo Canton will “get tired of such a government.”
“And if they do not produce any results, the foreigners will not be able to help them,” he said of the new government.
The SDP strongly criticised Izetbegovic’s statements the next day, calling upon Izetbegovic to “clarify his statements about the budget of Sarajevo Canton, which is currently controlled by the legally and legitimately elected Sarajevo Canton Government.”
“We are asking Izetbegovic to precisely define what the SDA or he himself, and not the citizens of the Canton, paid into the budget,” the party said in a statement.
“It is obvious that Izetbegovic, either knowingly or not, confirmed what the SDP is saying for decades – that the SDA treats budgets as their own personal cash registers which they can take as much as they want from, whenever they like,” the party said.
The SDP argued that this can best be seen in the “numerous complaints and court proceedings against SDA members, who mostly used the budgets of the municipalities, cantons and other government levels for the goal of their personal enrichment.”
“It seems that for the SDA and Bakir Izetbegovic the biggest problem is particularly that the current Sarajevo Canton Government is treating the cantonal budget as the property of its citizens, and not as private loot or the property of an individual or a party,” the SDP said.
The party argued that the new Sarajevo Canton government published a public registry of all the income of all public servants, secured financing for kindergarten for every child in Sarajevo and initiated “a number of capital infrastructure projects which the SDA did not want to spend ‘its’ budget on.”
“This is a great opportunity for the SDA to learn about transparency in political work, which the Sarajevo Canton Government is implementing for nearly a year,” the party said.