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Bosnia's State Presidency has adopted the 2012 budget proposed last week but has not agreed on cuts to civil service salaries on the grounds that this is unfair if it does not fall for elected officials too.
At a session on April 27 in Sarajevo, Bosnia's state presidency adopted the 2012 budget worth some 485 million euro, as suggested last week by the Council of Ministers, the state government.
But the Presidency said salaries of state servants cannot be lowered, as the Council asked, as the Constitution says the salaries of elected officials cannot be cut during their mandates so the constitution needs changing first.
Ministers who asked lower salaries and parliament members, who are due to support ministers' suggestion, are protected during their mandates, which the Presidency saw as unfair and that so said an article of the Constitution should change to allow lowering salaries of elected officials too.
The Presidency also said there should be no new hiring in the state-level administration in this year.
Two out of three members of the Bosnian tripartite presidency supported the budget while the Bosniak [Muslim] member, Bakir Izetbegovic, voted against.
Izetbegovic said that although he voted against the budget, he is satisfied that they agreed some decisions on budget cuts and hopes that the state parliament will support them.
“It is good that there will no lowering salaries for now because that's not the way to cut the budget,” Izetbegovic said explaining that some of his own proposals for budget cuts, which were adopted, will change the way offices are rented, which cost millions of Bosnian marks a year.
Zeljko Komsic, Croat member of the Presidency, last week said he did not back lowering salaries of state servants if salaries of parliamentarians or ministers are not lowered too.
He referred to the decision of the Council of Ministers, adopted along with the budget last week, that salaries of state servants should fall by 4.5 per cent.
Another proposal adopted by the Presidency is to abolish all reimbursements for officials who participate in parliamentary commissions.
Izetbegovic said he believes the State Parliament will not change immediately the article of the Constitution in question, so salaries will not fall for anyone this year, according to him.
Besides the amount of 485 million for financing state institutions, the final budget also includes 227 million euro to pay off loans that the country took from various foreign financiers.
After learning that the Presidency had adopted the 2012 budget, which also includes money for their unpaid pensions, ex-soldiers protesting in front of the state government in Sarajevo called off their sleep-in protest after a month, but warned they will be back on the day that lawmakers finally decide the matter.
The long-awaited state budget lowers the salaries for state employees but provides enough cash for the country generally to function, the finance minister says.
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