ECONOMY

Bosnia website with a view to a single market

SARAJEVO (Reuters) – Bosnia is preparing to launch its first Internet privatization website in an effort to unify its fragmented market and attract foreign investors. Lack of a single market and uniform legislation across the Balkan country, as well as the lack of political will to restructure huge socialist-era companies, have slowed the privatization process and irked foreign investors. «This website (www.BHprivatisation.info) finally creates a single port for potential investors to look at investment opportunities in this country,» said deputy international peace overseer Donald Hayes. The website offers a list of tenders for stakes in state companies in Bosnia’s two autonomous regions, the Muslim-Croat federation and the Serb Republic. Hayes said foreign investors would decide to put serious investment into Bosnia only once the country was perceived as a single economy. «The problem is, it is almost midnight. We wasted far too much time and we have to accelerate the process,» he said during the official presentation of the website. The privatization process, which kicked off in 1998, has been slow and is generally regarded as a failure. Foreign direct investment has been scarce, amounting to less than $1 billion. So far, 500 state-owned firms – just over half of those slated for privatization – have been sold for about 153 million Bosnian marka ($97.7 million) in the Serb half, and 518 firms have been sold for 340 million Bosnian marka in the federation. Prime Minister Adnan Terzic said the creation of a single indirect taxation authority showed the government’s determination to create a single market.