Lawyers in Bosnia and Herzegovina are especially busy, says Stevan Dimitrijevic, Managing Partner at Dimitrijevic & Partners of Banjaluka, benefitting, among other things, from the complicated decentralized nature of his country, which leads to a “lot work for lawyers.” Dimitrijevic claims that, for clients, it is a “necessity to retain a good advisor to cut through the complexity,” whereas, “with good advisors, of legal and financial vocation, everything is much easier and quite predictable.”
Dimitrijevic, a founding member of the Foreign Investors Council and member of the management board, a non-profit business association representing the interests of foreign businesses in the country, provides a mixed report, with some necessary steps for progress still needing to be made. “The atmosphere is definitely better than before in different areas: for example, the registration process for incoming companies has been sped up.” At the same time, he says, referring to levies for a specific purpose and paid to a lower level governments rather than the national tax authority, “parafiscal taxes still exist.”
And while the country’s general legislative framework compares well with EU countries, Dimitrijevic reports, its implementation still needs to be improved. “Implementation is a core, and we would like to see it in better shape than it is right now,” he says. Improved implementation would lead to a more predictable and reliable regime, he explains, where “every investor would like to find himself or herself.” At the moment, BiH has a dynamic legal environment, where laws are changing. “This is not exactly a perfect thing,” Dimitrijevic explains, however we are tracking things regularly and provide up-to-date report to our clients. All good offices do the same.” Nevertheless, he believes the country’s natural resources, energy, inexpensive while skilled-work-force, and low taxes provide counterbalancing incentives for foreign investors.
The general elections that are coming this Fall, Dimitrijevic reports, have resulted in the usual slowdown in new investments, although local governments — which have different election schedules — “are pretty active.” He is hopeful for the election’s aftermath. “If politicians do a good job afterwards, there will definitely be an increase in foreign investment,” he says, “I have no reason to be believe that this cannot happen.”
In addition, amendments to the Law on Advocacy both in the Republic of Srpska and in Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina are underway and expected to pass the parliamentary procedure towards the end of the year. According to Dimitrijevic, the new law will help “bring work up to the standards of EU countries.” He is part of the working group in the Republic of Srpska, and he reports that the new amendments in the entity will “allow for a corporate structure, the reorganization of services, tackle education, and support lawyers with generally upgraded legislation that everyone hopes will handle current open questions of the profession well and with lasting solutions.” In his opinion this will represent a step towards catching up with those neighboring countries that are already in the European Union.