In an interview to Banja Luka-based daily newspaper Nezavisne novine, Head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina Ian Brown said that BiH needed new excise duties - because without them, the country would not be able to build new roads and motorways.
“Our analyses show that BiH will not be able to pay us back the money without increase in excise duties. So, by purchasing fuel, citizens would be also paying for construction of roads, and giving us back the money we have borrowed (to Bosnia and Herzegovina)”, Brown explained.
Brown added that excise duties on fuel were already being used for construction of roads and motorways, but those amounts of money were not enough, and there was no room for additional loans.
“We have already signed loans in amount of approximately EUR 220 million for new sections of Corridor 5c and road projects, but the money cannot be used until the adoption of new excise duties. Along with those 220 million, we might be able to approve additional projects worth a total of EUR 250 million and related to construction of roads. However, you need new excise duties in order to be able to pay the money back. We believe that excise duties for roads and motorways are the best way to pay back loans, because that is the most transparent mechanism which is proven to be functional”, Brown explained.
He added that the money collected from additional excise duties would not be paid to budgets, but directly to bank accounts of companies in charge of constructing roads and motorways, so citizens would know what the money was being used for.
“Your road infrastructure is the worst in the region. Every driver in BiH knows that very well”, Brown said. “BiH will not be able to attract investments and develop economy without good transport infrastructure because no one would want to come here. The Corridor 5c itself increases your GDP by one percent. Current GDP growth in BiH is 2.5 percent, and it would have been 3.5 percent if there was no slowdown of works on Corridor 5c”, he explained.
Furthermore, Brown said that EBRD’s mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina was to help the country become a functional market economy. “We are yet to fulfill that goal, because BiH needs to do a lot more. BiH needs bigger private sector, and that is what we are working on. BiH needs investments into ecologically acceptable technologies, and we are working on that as well. And, also, BiH needs better transport infrastructure, and that is why we are talking about excise duties. We want BiH to be integrated better with its neighbors”, Brown explained.