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Through innovative and transparent measures, local communities support the sustainable development of the private sector in BiH

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global crisis of enormous proportions, not only in health but also in development and in socio-economic terms. It disrupted the everyday life of all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the further sustainable development and survival of the private sector, especially at the local level.

At all administrative levels in BiH, the authorities have enacted certain restrictive measures to prevent the spread of the disease, which has led to a sharp rise in the unemployment rate. This increase changed daily due to insufficient economic activity, as well as due to the adoption of various measures that prevented or allowed the work of certain branches of the economy.

It is for this reason that local government units in this country have reacted differently in adopting measures and providing a socio-economic response to the situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless of diversity, the measures aimed to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic on the economy of each of these communities individually.

Continuously working on improvements, the project “SDGs Roll-out Support and Private Sector Engagement”, implemented by UNDP in BiH and funded by Sweden, this year introduced an additional category of SDG awards, a category focusing on recognizing support provided by local communities private sector in this crisis period. The first SDG award for local communities is dedicated to those local government units in Bosnia and Herzegovina that provided support to the private sector during the COVID-19 pandemic through the adopted measures.

The focus this year was on supporting the private sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the coming years, the focus of this recognition will be on other crucial fields important for private sector development, such as energy efficiency, job creation and decarbonisation.

The methodology developed can be adapted to these and other focuses. Starting next year, this recognition should be awarded in partnership with the associations of municipalities and cities of the Federation of BiH and the Republika Srpska.

The award was symbolically presented by Mr. Ahmet Egrlić, President of the Foreign Trade Chamber of BiH.

Armin Halitović, Mayor of Bosanska Krupa, one of the winners of the 2021 Award, says that they support business entities in this B&H municipality because the sustainable future of the community is important to them and adds:

“Listening to the needs of the economy, we have created innovative and transparent measures to support businesses from the area of our municipality. We subsidized their utility costs, fees for the use of public areas and interest on business loans. In that sense, we have provided an incentive for sowing for 414 farmers, but we have also supported the preservation of jobs in 102 small businesses. “

In the city of Cazin, also this year’s award winner, they confirm that mitigating the negative effects of the pandemic is one of their strategic priorities. For this reason, like the neighbors from Bosanska Krupa, they subsidized the costs of communal services for 143 business entities, provided incentives for sowing for 2943 farmers, allocated greenhouses for 40 vegetable growers and hives for 29 beekeepers.

“By developing incubators of business ideas for young people, we have additionally supported 39 start-up businesses for women and young people. We are proud of the results achieved because we care about the sustainable development of the community in a transparent, inclusive and innovative way, “says Mr. Nermin Ogrešević, Mayor of Cazin.

The strategic commitment to combat the negative consequences of the global pandemic was recognized during the award ceremony for 2021 and in another unit of local self-government. The City of Doboj, by directing innovative measures to support the economy, subsidized the costs of communal services for 528 business entities affected by the crisis.

“And not only that; we have managed to provide incentives to strengthen competitiveness, increase production and preserve jobs for 27 entrepreneurial businesses by giving priority to companies run by women and employing people with disabilities. We have also economically empowered 20 socially disadvantaged people through involvement in greenhouse vegetable production. And indeed, we are always at your service, especially for the sustainable development of our community, “said Boris Jerinić, Mayor of Doboj.

In the municipality of Novo Sarajevo, they emphasize that, like the previous three local government units, they are committed to the strategic recovery from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they are glad that their efforts were recognized in awarding this prize.

“We have implemented a number of innovative measures transparently and proactively. We financed salaries for more than 1000 employees, self-employment of 12 people, employment of 39 people and protection funds for entrepreneurs. We have provided business entities with regressed loans, as well as subsidies for the use of public areas and spaces. In addition, we awarded greenhouses for 100 socially endangered people, but also supported more than 600 business entities and individuals because the well-being of our municipality and our fellow citizens is important to us, “said Dr. Hasan Tanović, mayor of this municipality.

The fifth in a series of winners of the SDG award for 2021 is the municipality of Teslić, which, by implementing innovative measures, strategically responded to the challenge of the pandemic and supported the economic recovery of the private sector in their community.

“In cooperation with the private and non-governmental sector, we have supported the entities affected by the crisis.” We provided them with subsidies for utility costs, fees for the use of public areas and business premises, as well as interest on business loans. We co-financed business ideas of young people, the establishment of new entrepreneurial activities, but also financially supported women entrepreneurs “, says Dr. Milan Miličević, Mayor of Teslić, concludes: “The satisfaction of 350 business entities in our municipality is our real motivation to work even better and even more for the sustainability of our local community.”

The examples of these five awarded local government units are proof that only through innovative and transparent measures, but also by recognizing local resources that are crucial for community development, it is possible to maintain private sector development and improve the business environment at the local level in Bosnia and Herzegovina.