BiH Parliament House of Representatives adopted the Excise laws

BiH Parliament House of Representatives adopted the Excise laws
Just one vote in favour of the controversial Excise Law amendments was enough to make MPs in the BiH Parliament House of Representatives adopt this long-awaited set of laws which, according to supporters, are preconditions for new investments, faster development of the highways network in the state and a better social situation in the country.

The set of laws on this matter are also the preconditions for the new IMF loan tranche, that will ensure the loan of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) for faster development of the economy in BiH. Earlier, the law got through the voting in the House of People in BiH's Parliament.

Unlike the earlier law proposal, which envisaged the increase of the price of all kinds of fuel, the adopted version provides the tax on biofuels and the road toll prices. The extra revenue will be used for the construction of new roads.

The opponents of this set of laws said that this is not good news for the BiH citizens since, after the increase in the road toll prices, all other prices also will rise, including food and products that people need on a daily basis.

For the set of laws and amendments on the existing laws which regulate this issue voted the SDA, SNSD, SBB , HDZ BiH and HDZ 1990 memebrs. Moreover, the members of the caucuses of  DF, SDS, SDP, the Independent Bloc, independent MP Djordje Krcmar, BPS MP, Zaim Backovic, and the A-SDA MP, Jasmin Emric. The modified proposal of the set of excise laws with accompanying improvements was agreed at the level of finance ministers and prime ministers of the entities, as well as at that of representatives of the Council of Ministers.

The vote which made the adoption possible was the vote of the HDZ 1990 MP, Diana Zelenika. In earlier discussions, she was against the adoption of the set of laws, but early in the morning she came round to it. Zelenika stressed that what made her change her mind was the fact that "transparency of the spending of collected funds is provided" and that it was the her party's condition in order to vote in favour of the laws.

Parties which were against this set of laws, said that the battle is not over yet and that they will appeal to BiH's Constitutional Court to dispute them. The session was full of drama and lasted from Thursday (December 14) morning to Friday (December 15) 04:00 a.m., when it was interrupted. During the debate, those opposing the law stated that the EU Special Representative in BiH, Lars Gunnar Wigemark, lobbied for the adoption of this set of laws. He, on Friday, did not want to comment on these statements.

"I will not comment on what has been said about me, as it has nothing to do with this decision and the benefits it will make. I will only say that when other arguments run out, then, of course, they resort to such personal attacks. However, we do not work in that manner in the EU," said Wigemark.

He welcomed the decision of the BiH Parliament House of Representatives saying that it will create a better business climate and will give the positive dynamic to the economy. Highest EU representatives, High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn issued a joint statement concerning the adoption of Excise laws in BiH.

"The adoption by the House of Representatives in BiH of amendments to the set of excise laws this morning is an important achievement. This decision will give a renewed impetus to the reforms that are necessary to secure the long-term financial stability of the country. It will enable Bosnia and Herzegovina to get to work on building a modern highway and road infrastructure, with an important support of international partners, including the European Union. This in turn will bring sorely needed investments and jobs and will also give an important boost to growth. The adopted measures are necessary for the future prosperity of citizens and we commend members of both Houses of Parliament for taking a difficult short-term measure in the interests of a better future for Bosnia and Herzegovina and its people. The EU and International Financial Institutions will closely monitor the implementation of the law,” reads the joint statement.

US Ambassador in BiH, Maureen Cormack, also welcomed the adoption of Excise laws. She said that this was a "hard but positive step forward" and that the benefits will be felt by all citizens across the country.

But, as soon as Hahn welcomed the adoption of the laws, on his Twitter account, negative comments appeared.

"In doing so (adopted the laws), the leaders you praise ensured another eight years in power, if not more. You did not help the people of Bosnia. You helped the exact same leaders who wrecked the country and created the biggest exodus since the war. Call it what you want, but you doomed us," read one of comments.

Another Twitter user wrote that "they did everything they could to make people of this country leave everything they love, and go across the globe to search for some future. Not great future but some future, to work in areas that will provide at least small benefits for their kids, and their education.".../IBNA

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