Bosnia & Herzegovina is finally seeing the breaking of a two-year-old deadlock that paralyzed its securities commission and halted business, says BH Legal Partner Jasmina Suljovic, underlining the most important recent development in the country.
"The first thing that has caught the attention of the legal market in Bosnia & Herzegovina is the unblocking of the Securities Commission of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Komisija za vrijednosne papire)," Suljovic begins. "Ever since 2019, when one of the five members of the Commission retired, the regulatory body has been unable to reach a quorum, convene, and, essentially, work." The Commission is the ruling body when it comes to registering changes for stock companies – everything from changes to base capital all the way to registering the supervisory boards. "This has been a major problem," Suljovic says "because it paralyzed a lot of companies in doing their business, changing their governing bodies, or just getting on the market!"
Now, two years in, the President of the Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina has announced that new members of the Commission are to be appointed, pending a parliamentary confirmation. "Finally, it appears that this stalemate will end," Suljovic says. The issue has reached as high up as the IMF, which, at one point, stated that the unblocking of the Securities Commission is a precondition for further credit financing to Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Furthermore, Suljovic says that an informal philanthropic forum is set to kick off in the country. "This is a major advancement for philanthropy and humanitarian aid in Bosnia & Herzegovina," Suljovic reports. "The forum is initiated by the most prominent civil society organizations in the country and the region: Fondacija Mozaik, Fondacija Hastor, Pomozi.ba, Mreza za izgradnju mira, Fondacija Trag, and Catalyst Balkans with the financial support of USAID. This Forum is an informal venue for corporations, foundations, and people who contribute to a better society, allowing the philanthropic community to have more confidence in the giving process and improving the quality of life for philanthropic recipients." This philanthropic network will help the current situation in the country by "finally giving a push for legislative change that can stimulate more philanthropic behavior," Suljovic says.
According to her, the corporate sector in Bosnia & Herzegovina is already quite helpful and giving, both in monetary terms and in kind, but is facing a lot of hurdles due to the fact that an appropriate tax regime for donations is lacking. "Tax deductions for philanthropic aid are capped at 3% – which does not incentivize giving," Suljovic reports. "Also, if a company wants to donate food, it has to pay VAT on it! This is sorely in need of an overhaul, which is what I think will happen now." Finally, Suljovic says that she hopes this will stimulate others to help as well and will aid in growing philanthropic endeavors in the country.