Private Sector and International Community Ready to Assist Flood-affected AreasJul 1, 2014
Flood Relief Coordination Forum was held on June 30th, organized by the Hastor Foundation, thanks to its project Srcem za BiH, in cooperation with the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency (SDC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The forum gathered representatives of private sector in the country and the international community.
The main objective of the Forum was to provide a systemic and direct assistance through synergies in action, and to maximise the resources that the private sector is ready to allocate for this purpose in a coordinated and efficient way.
“We are here today to discuss with the private sector the ways for them to the recovery of flood-affected communities. You are familiar with the ways of involvement of private companies in the humanitarian phase of recovery – by providing equipment, fuel, aid volunteers, food and other supplies, indicating that their involvement is already quite high”, said Yuri Afanasiev, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“Now we are thinking of going forward, where we do not talk that much about donations from the private sector, although these are always welcome; instead, we are discussing solutions suitable for both sides, a win-win situation for both the public from flood-affected areas and the private sector. Essentially we are talking about the triangle where the governments, the private sector, as well as the international community can work together to help flood victims. Donors and international organisations will help the most vulnerable populations, and assist in rebuilding infrastructure, but the effort should primarily come from the government and the private sector”, added Afanasiev.
The Forum included three plenary workshops on: job preservation, reconstruction of housing units and public institutions, as well as the recovery of agricultural production.
It was concluded in workshops that the Delegation of the European Union in the next few months would mobilise several million BAM for assistance, while the Federal Employment Institute would earmark 3.6 million BAM for different assistance measures, with the public call already announced.
A similar form of assistance and the availability of funds have also been demonstrated by the private sector, including offers of assistance from “small” enterprises, but also “big” ones such as the Sparkasse bank, which will allocate 500,000 BAM to help locals and businesses in affected areas in this year alone.
The workshop was also attended by companies from flood-affected areas; employers from Doboj explained that in practice they have no advantages in access to loans. In order to preserve jobs, their companies would require exemption from duties for a period of at least 6 to 12 months or temporary suspension of repayment of loans for companies in flooded areas.
In addition to these issues, VAT return was one of the topics of discussion, for it can also help to curb rising unemployment. It is necessary to further lobby for VAT refund on goods and services donated by companies. This would help not only to preserve jobs, but create new funds available for assistance.