n March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared a coronavirus pandemic due to an ongoing global outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease, called COVID-19 (which represent an abbreviation of Coronavirus Disease 2019). In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the first case of COVID 19 was recorded on March 5, 2020, while on March 17,2020, a state of natural or other disasters was declared in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. To date, 360 cases of infections have been confirmed in the territory of BiH, out of which 10 have died and 17 people have recovered.
On March 28, 2020, the National Assembly of the Republic of Srpska adopted the Decision on the Declaration of a State of Emergency in the Territory of the Republic of Srpska due to the current epidemiological situation. The Decision will enter into force on the day following its publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Srpska. Prior to that Decision, on March 16, 2020, the RS Government issued a Decision declaring an emergency situation. More detailed information on the consequences of a declaration of a state of emergency can be found at the following link:
Authorities at the state and republic levels, as well as at the level of local self-government units, have undertaken a series of measures and activities to prevent the spreading of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. You can acquire information about the measures and activities taken before March 27 at the following link:
https://advokatskafirmasajic.com/blog/covid-19-decision-on-the-declaration-of-a-state-of-emergency-for-the-territory-of-the-republic-of-srpska/ while a brief summary of the most recent measures and activities of the competent authorities adopted in the period from 27 March 2020, can be found below.
- On March 27, the Republic of Srpska Tax Administration notified all businesses entities affected by measures for prevention of spreading of the coronavirus and which consequently faced difficulties in business operation, that in accordance with the RS Government Decision may submit a request for delayed payment of tax labilities. The RS Government, at its session held on March 30, adopted a Decree prescribing a direct price control measure in the Republic of Srpska, which stipulates that product pricing margins will be same as on March 5, 2020 and that the list of the products to which it applies will be expanded. This Decree repealed the previous Decree on the return of prices to the previous level. At the session of the Republican Committee for Emergency Situations on March 30, it was decided that all the previously taken measures, with certain corrections, would remain in force until April 13. In addition, it was decided to allow persons over the age of 65 to go out on Tuesdays and Fridays from 07:00 am to 10:00 am, while the age limit for movement of citizens living in rural areas, including beekeepers, is set at 75 years of age to facilitate farming.
- refuses to comply with the decision determining isolation measures, and ordered the Cantonal Civil Protection Committees to provide facilities and conditions for forced isolation within 3 days from the day of the adoption of the said Order.
- The Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of Srpska has submitted to the competent institutions of the Republic of Srpska and Bosnia and Herzegovina a proposal for a set of measures to support the economy in order to mitigate the effects of the impact of the novel coronavirus on the economy of the Republic of Srpska. The proposal sets out the following measures:
- provision of compensation in the amount of the lowest salary in the gross amount, prescribed by the Decision on the lowest salary, to all employees in the activities who were forbidden from work due to decisions, orders and conclusions of the RS Government, or who were prevented from carrying out their business activities in full capacity for the period from the entry into force of the Conclusion on Prohibition of Work until the termination of the circumstances for which the work was prohibited,
- modification of the decision of the Banking Agency on temporary measures by banks to mitigate the negative economic consequences caused by coronavirus, so that the Decision defines the obligation of the bank (and the leasing provider) in the territory of the Republic of Srpska to offer its debtors a delay in repayment of obligations (moratorium),
- formation of an operational team that would be in charge of continuously monitoring and analysing the situation in the economy and proposing to the Republic Committee for Crisis measures for overcoming the crisis,
- Enabling the extension of the VAT payment deadline and maximizing the VAT refund deadline by the BiH Indirect Taxation Authority,
- Internet sales license to entities in the Republic of Srpska, which are prohibited or restricted from operating, with their own delivery or delivery via postal services,
- publication of decisions, conclusions and orders of the RS Government and other competent authorities on the RS Government website and in the RS Official Gazette.
- On 29 March, the City Committee for Emergency Situations of the City of Banja Luka extended all preventive measures related to urban transport, pre-school education, crafts and services, public gatherings, etc., which are now in force until 13 April 2020. On the same day, the Gradiska City Committee for Emergency Situations issued a set of economic and social measures, and for certain activities whose work was completely prohibited or restricted, subsidies, reliefs or write-offs were determined, so that, among other things, entrepreneurs who pay utilities whose work was completely suspended will have the right to a subsidy of 100% for the months of March and April, and 50% if their work is restricted; all those who are obliged to pay public area fees will be fully exempted from payments for the months of March, April and May through the grant of a subsidy; taxpayers who pay for the occupation of public land, small craftsmen and kiosk owners, where the activity is completely discontinued, will be exempted from payment of a fee of 100% for the months of March, April and May, while 50% for those whose business activity is whose work has been restricted; tenants of city-owned business premises whose work is completely suspended will be exempted from paying for three months in 2020, and those whose work is restricted will be exempted from this obligation for two months; entrepreneurs and businesses entities will be able to complete an electronic questionnaire on business difficulties by May 5 this year.
- The Banking Agency of the Federation of BiH has adopted several measures in the form of by-laws, with the aim of mitigating the economic consequences caused by the occurrence of the COVID-19 viral disease and preserving the financial stability of the banking sector, inter alia by enabling a moratorium, introducing a grace period, extending the loan repayment period, etc .
- The Republican Committee for Emergency Situations has issued several conclusions setting out measures aimed at assisting farmers: Conclusion on delaying payment of concession fee and rent for use of agricultural land owned by RS for 2020 for three months from the date of maturity; Conclusion on deletion of beneficiaries from the records of debtors of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, based on IFAD loans from 1998 and 1999; Conclusion on the diversion of IFAD loan funds to finance seed packages for the needs of small-scale farms; Conclusion on the regression of domestic seed selected and produced in RS in the amount of 50% of the retail price.
- On March 28, the Association of Catering and Tourism Workers of the Republic of Srpska submitted a formal request to the RS Government with a proposal for measures aimed at unburdening this sector where it is requested that the RS Government pays 80% of wages to catering and tourism workers during the ban on work, then exemption from payment of all para-fiscal levies, rents for business premises, summer garden allowances, etc.
- The Conclusion of the Republican Committee for Emergency Situations of the RS Government stipulates that all persons who failed to respect the measures of home isolation will be sent to the quarantine established by the local self-government units.
- In the City of Banja Luka, five checkpoints have been established to control the movement of persons determined the measure of home isolation.
- On the proposal of the RS Ministry of Internal Affairs, the RS Government has decided to ban making or reporting false news and claims through the media, social networks and other similar means of communication which may cause panic and disrupt public order and peace or disrupt the work of authorities;
- Sarajevo Airport is intended to carry out the function of an “air bridge” through which medicines and assistance will arrive in BiH. Starting from March 28, Turkish Airlines has suspended all flights between Sarajevo and Istanbul until April 17. The airline company “Wizz Air” suspended all flights from and to Tuzla from March 17 to April 3, 2020.
- RS Post Office as of March 27, have enabled that registered mail for persons over the age of 65 can be taken by an adult who presents a valid identity document of the one to whom the registered mail was addressed.
- All primary and secondary schools and higher education institutions in BiH remain closed, while the educational process is carried out through distance education.
- The Conclusion of the Republican Committee for Emergency Situations of March 30 stipulates that the April examination deadline for university students will be held when the conditions are met.
- The City of Banja Luka provided delivery of food and medicine to the elderly, sick and helpless persons as part of the project “You are not Alone” campaign. All events planned for City Day for April 22, 2020, were cancelled.