Public administration reform in B&H is long-lasting and complex process, and within its scope B&H has to reach adequate administrative structures, which is one of the prerequisites for joining the EU. In the interview for Federal Press Agency (FENA), B&H Coordinator for public administration reform Mr. Srđa Vranić is talking about significance, goals and possible resistances to this process and PAR project implementation.
FENA: What is PAR project/strategy and what is its objective?
PAR is expression taken from English language and it means public administration reform. One of recommendations recognized in Feasibility study for B&H was the establishing of the Office of the Coordinator for public administration reform in B&H, what was effectuated by Council of Minister’s decision on October, 28th, 2004. B&H must attain institutional framework, which will allow it to fully implement EU legal legacies. That is a huge number of the directives and regulative that precisely regulate all vital domains, such as free migration of goods, people, capital, services, define financial utilities, regulate issues of competition, consumers protection, control of products’ quality, or, better to say, all the issues included in content of B&H Stabilization and Association Agreement to EU.
FENA: Who is the protagonist/bearer of the preparation, and who has that role in the process of project/strategy implementation? -The role of Coordinator’s office is to prepare and implement a strategy for reform of B&H administration’s sectors. These activities are foreseen so that administration, with its advanced organizational structure, and application of all the best practices of modernized and reformed EU administration, succeeds to conduct complete process of B&H Euro integrations. Help to the Office in this task is provided from several donors, including European Commission which financed the Team for technical assistance to the Office in building of the strategy, and help in creating and implementation of the strategy is also foreseen from the Governments of Netherlands and Sweden. Road to Europe is very long, and regarding to administration, maybe even the most complex and most demanding. We will have to almost entirely change our mentality and way of thinking that is present in the region of the Western Balkans for over the half of the century.
FENA: When the implementation starts and how long will it last?
The beginning of implementation of the first chapter of the strategy should start directly after its adoption that we expect till the end of June. It is important to mention that, basically, first chapter is the essence and fundament of administration, and its consisted from areas that will be elaborated by it, and that are strategic planning, legislation drafting, administrative procedures, complete area of public finances and managing of public funds, information technologies, human recourses management, and, afterwards, the most important administrative management of EU accession process. Our observations are that we will work in cycles on the implementation in the following eight years, or to say more precise, in the two following mandate cycles of B&H government. We are also forecasting that in the 2014, we could objectively speak about good results and adequate administrative apparatus prepared for EU membership.
FENA: What will happen if, by fortune, governments don’t agree and don’t adopt PAR strategy? What are the consequences?
First and the most important is, that the initiated process of negotiations about stabilization and association can be suspended, prolonged and become significantly more complicated if we don’t appear with the proposal of comprehensive B&H PAR strategy in time of its constitution.
FENA: What is the price of the project/strategy and who is financing it, namely, what is the cost of PAR for the B&H citizens?
Beside European Commission, in this engagement, through donor fund, United Kingdom is involved, throughout DFiD project which works on the second phase of administration reform together with RS government. Reform of the public sector, and especially administration, cost very much in each one of the EU member countries, and the best confirmation for the duration and importance of administration reform is the example of Ministry for public administration reform in France that exists, under that name since 1946. It is hard to predict the costs, but it’s important to emphasize that, even with limited funds which are currently available, it is possible to achieve very much. We will have to face the process of dismissing unqualified and employing of younger staff, with the obligation and condition of knowing one of the dominant official EU languages, like English and France. That’s why I completely responsibly claim that the increase of the costs can be present in first couple of years, but, in time, the consumption will be significantly rationalized and the goals and intention of the administration as the utility, service, for the citizens – what should be its primary and basic function even in current situation – will begin to actualize.
FENA: What will be achieved by this reform in long-term, and what benefits will citizens, and B&H as the state, have from it?
The most important achievement to be reached is the administration based on the principles of economy, honesty and efficiency, which tomorrow will also be the generator to the economic prosperity of the country. From this prosperity all the other qualities will arise, as well as the capacity for fulfilling the universal principles and all values of the Union, which make it attractive and acceptable for all its current and future members.
FENA: Does it mean that the ponderous and expensive state administration, namely, its employees will accept to be dismissed, and do you expect their resistance and obstruction? Do you have some plan for sanitation of this kind of problems?
Globalization, open market, euro integrations, economic an technological development, global prosperity are too huge goals for anyone to abandon, and accomplishing these goals demands extraordinary sacrifices which every transition country had to suffer, so B&H couldn’t avoid negative effects of the same process either. Resistance to changes was and stays present in each of the countries, so that’s how it’s going to be in our country as well. The need for change of the perception, need for political courage, willingness of those who make decisions to inherit the burden of unpopularity, accept the risk of loss of the authority, is something that is expected from those who are placed in the leadership. I’m responsibly claiming that it is possible to reach the balance between the number of dismissed from administration with timely planned programs, pre-qualifications. It is possible to realize even positive result of increasing number of employed in private sector by application of programs for diminishing administration’s burden of unnecessary services which can be provided by private sector, and the ones who were dismissed from administration sector can be employed or even found these small and medium private enterprises. All this demands good strategic thinking, and even more, dedication and discipline in administration, and the Coordinator’s office should, beside other issues, take care of it, with the cooperation with donors and correctly propose each following reform cycle until we fulfill our long-term goal.