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news 21 Nov 17

Bosnia Federation Govt Torn Between Police and Pensioners

The Parliament of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is stuck between a rock and a hard place – the retirement law currently under discussion risks angering either police or the region's retirees.

Igor Spaic
BIRN
Sarajevo
Bosnia Federation's Parliament. Photo: BIRN.

Around 150 policemen gathered in front of the regional parliament Tuesday, demanding that legislators reject a proposed law on pensions which they say would lower their retirement payouts by 30 per cent. 

However, the law is on the agenda – in part – because pensioners staged mass demonstrations last month demanding its adoption because of their low monthly  allowances. Several thousand gathered in front of the Federation building on October 25 protesting the set minimum of  320 Bosnian marks (164 euros) per month, which 66 per cent of them receive. 

They threatened new mass protests should the law not be adopted, adding that in next year's election they would not vote for any party standing against it. Federation politicians cannot risk angering nearly 410,000 out of a total of 1.3 million registered voters. 

On the other hand, the police  the main instrument of law and order enforcement  is threatening a general strike.

The new law would intruduce a different method of calculating retirements, making them correspond with the numbers of years one has worked and salary amount.

The legislation is part of the EU reform agenda Bosnia must  implement in order to move further along the path to EU membership.

But more importantly, the new law is supposed to stabilise the troubled retirement budget which sees the region paying out such meagre pensions. The retirement system is based on generational solidarity – in order for the retirement fund to be stable, there must be between 3 and 3.5 workers paying benefits for every one retiree. In Bosnia, the number of those who work and of those who are retired are about level. Without reforms, the whole system could collapse.

However, police also stand to lose their special benefits. The nature of their work means that they can retire earlier than other sectors of society. However, if retirement directly corresponds with number of years worked, they stand to lose out financially.

Mirza Hadziabdic, the president of president of the Kanton Sarajevo Police Union, told local news portal N1 that the police supports the new law and the retirees’ demands.

“However, we are asking  for our demands to be included in the law, as is normal across the region,” he said.

But the main pensioners' union in the federation said Monday they it does not agree that the policemens’ demands are legitimate. The changes they are proposing would make them a priviliged category as opposed to everyone else, they said.

“We do not agree that our demands, which were agreed with the government and which are part of the law, should be changed in any way, especially for the law to give privilages to any category of retirees,” the union stated.

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