Competitive atmosphere of pre-election period is at full swing these days. Posters of smiling candidates can be seen everywhere, TV and radio broadcast is teeming with political messages, conferences and meetings of the parties, more or less attended, are held on a daily basis.
As in previous years, discourse of the campaign is populist, indefinite and occasionally enraged. It is noticeable, however, that many political subjects rely on economic themes in their campaign, after a harsh lesson from violent February protests that sent loud and clear message about previous unproductive mandate.
However, despite the serious approach to economic reform, specific issues of present and potential entrepreneurs are not a priority of election programs of most parties. This important topic is often suppressed by cheap populist narratives or represented occasionally, sporadically and without concrete measures and solutions for reforms.
Within the project “Promoting political accountability”, Center for Policy and Governance prepared comparative analysis of election programs of all major parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The aim of analysis was to asses and evaluate their economic strategies, focusing primarily on improvement of business environment. The key criteria was concreteness, whether reflected in proposing new or reforming the old legislative. Proposals for strengthening the capacity of existing institutions, or establishment of new bodies / institutions to manage improvement of business environment were also reviewed. We have delivered surveys to all political parties with questions regarding relevant issues related to specific problems of the business environment.
Doing Business Report, which evaluates specific aspects of business environment, assigned very low rank to Bosnia and Herzegovina, pointing out following issues: complex administrative procedures of business startup, obtaining construction permit and getting electricity, weak investor protection, complex procedures for paying taxes, difficulties with trade across borders and high taxation of labor.
Political parties were given opportunity to present concrete measures for improvement of business environment. Responses were evaluated according to criteria of concreteness with grades from 1 to 5, awarded as follows:
- Program does not refer to the subject
- Program recognizes the problem, but does not provide solutions or measures
- Advanced knowledge of the problem with proposed generalized measures concerning legislation
- Proposed modification of specific laws or establishment of an adequate body/institution and orientation towards implementation of specified recommendation without a plan of action
- Modification of specific laws or establishment of an adequate body/institution with implementation plan with exact figures
The overall impression is that only a few political subjects addressed the issue by creating a specific, precise and coherent plan for improving the business environment, with solution for all problems listed above. Programs with defined measures that targeted legislation modification were presented by “Naša stranka”, “SDP”, “Demokratska fronta”, “SDA”, coalition “Zajedno za promjene” and “SBB”. Other political parties scored below average. Parties scored lowest grades to responses concerning obtaining construction permits and getting electricity, in contrast to higher grades to response on tax policy reforms that aimed to relieve real sector and in long term, attract foreign investments.
You can read the analysis on this link.