By Maja Tuljkovic – Sarajevo
As was announced on Monday, farmers gathered today at noon in front of the FB&H Parliament building in order to express their disatisfaction with the work of the Committee for Agriculture of the House of Representatives of the FB&H Parliament. The protests were organized bz the Association of Farmers in B&H (UPBiH), supported by the Alliance of Farmers of the Association of FB&H and the smaller Associations of Agriculture from Sarajevo, Tuzla, Goražde, Central Bosnia and Una Sana Canton. With these protests, farmers wish to draw attention to the problem of adopting an incentive program, and whose deadline for adoption is 60 days since the adoption of the budget. This deadline was on the 6th.
The Committee for Agriculture of the House of Representatives of the FB&H Parliament is expected to discuss this years incentive program today. Farmers did not receive their incentives from 2012 and 2013, and so they assess that an amount of 18 million BAM is in question, not counting capital investments that are expected to be transferred this year.
Even if the incentives program were to be adopted today, as stated by the farmers, the legal deadline of 60 days would be “doubly exceeded” for them to achieve their rights. UPBiH believes that committees for farmers are continually obstructing the adoption of a program even though it is in accordance with the FB&H Ministry of Agriculture, Water Managemgent and Forestry and with the House of Peoples. The FB&H Minister of Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry Jerko Ivanković Lijanović admitted to journalists today that the legal deadline for adoption of the incentive program has been breached, and that in December last year he sent this program to committees of the FB&H Parliament. He expressed his belief that the Committee for Agriculture of the House of Representatives of the FB&H Parliament at todays session would give consent to the incentive program so that it could be adopted, and so in the next month the assumptions would be created for farmers to gain their rights that legally belong to them.
Minister Lijanović considers that there was no need for protests because he believes that members of the committee are responsible and especially well paid, and have to do their jobs because more than 100 days have passed since they received the proposal.
On the other hand, today the Association of Fowlers B&H and the Coordination of Agricultural Associations of the FB&H announced that they distance themselves from the protests of farmers in Sarajevo. Both claim that the current FB&H Minister for Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry Jerko Ivaković Lijanović is behind these protests. They said that todays protests aims to exert pressure on the government and FB&H Parliament for the adoption of a destructive program of incentives for agricultural production in 2014.
However, farmers who are protesting are not giving up, and are demanding an immediate meeting with the FB&H Minister of Agriculture and Finance and the FB&H Prime Minister in order to speak about the implementation of incentive payments for 2012, 2013 and 2014. They expect the payments by 31 March, and if this does not happen, they are announcing new protests, where traffic will be blocked in at least three locations in the FB&H.