If citizens show discipline and protect themselves from the virus as much as possible, BiH could get over the peak of the epidemic within two to three weeks but will likely also see a ten percent drop in its economy, the Serb member of the tripartite Presidency, Milorad Dodik, told N1 on Wednesday.
The Serb leader said he believes that there are a lot more people infected than was registered by now, adding that some do not show symptoms at all but still spread the virus to others.
“We must increase our self-defense measures. We must stop all (physical) contact, maintain a two-meter distance between each other, wear masks and maintain good hygiene,” Dodik said, adding that if this is respected, the peak of the crisis could be “overcome within the next two or three weeks.”
He said that “only crazy people are not afraid of this situation,” but that this is not the time for panic, but for responsibility.
“Now, when people started dying from this, others have become much more willing to obey the (government) measures,” he said.
“This is a global crisis, a global epidemic, as the World Health Organisation declared. We can see how much bigger countries, such as the US, Italy and Spain, are having a very difficult time responding to it. Life has nearly stopped,” Dodik said.
He stressed that the government must seek ways to respond to the dramatic economic consequences of the crisis and to maintain a stable budget but dismissed calls of international officials for a state budget to be adopted urgently.
BiH international administrator, High Representative Valentin Inzko, had told N1 the adoption of the state budget should be a priority.
“The budget will not be adopted because we do not have the means to evaluate fiscal revenue,” Dodik replied. “I think doing it would damage Bosnia and Herzegovina, we must follow the developments in the fiscal system and the budget will most likely have to be lower by 30 percent.”
“If he was smart he would not have suggested that but would have said that we should wait and then see what to adopt,” Dodik said of Inzko.
The Serb leader said that the priority of authorities at all government levels should be to ensure that there is enough food in the country, adding that this is the case currently and that citizens should not worry about that.
He also said BiH should prepare for its economy to drop by about ten percent.
“Economic growth has stopped but it was not destroyed,” he said. Dodik argued that neither of Bosnia’s two semi-autonomous entities is the epicenter of the outbreak and that “this came from outside.”
“No politician likes this and nobody can be prepared for it,” he added. “Every responsible government must take into account three things: the standard of living, the economic capacities and the employment of citizens,” Dodik said, declaring that “whoever fires employees can not count on state subsidies.”
“We will talk about the budget once the crisis is over, we will ask for a moratorium on loans worth about four billion (Bosnian Marks) for the coming period,” he added.