Better targeting of social assistance to decrease poverty in Bosnia and Herzegovina

January 27, 2010

SARAJEVO, January 27, 2010 – The Directorate for Economic Planning (DEP) and the World Bank (WB) in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH) presented today a report titled “Protecting the poor during the global crisis: 2009 Bosnia and Herzegovina Poverty Update”. 

The report uses the Household Budget Surveys (HBS) conducted by the BH Agency for Statistics in 2004 and 2007 to provide micro-evidence on the evolution of poverty, a profile of the poor, and the impact of the global crisis on the population in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  It also offers a few recommendations on how to protect the population.

This report is a sign of how good data collection coupled with careful analytical work can inform policy analysis and the design of reforms,” said Marco Mantovanelli, World Bank Country Manager for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The report highlights how the lack of a comprehensive social safety net inhibits the country’s capacity to shield effectively its most vulnerable citizens from the global economic crisis.  Thus, the current system is socially inequitable, has negative impact on the labor market, and is also fiscally unsustainable.  BH is spending large sums of money on various transfers-to-individuals programs (such as social and veteran benefits).  Yet these programs are not reaching the poorest, nor are they providing the incentives for those who can work to find jobs.

The economic downturn has added urgency to the case for developing more responsive and better targeted social safety nets in BH, both to protect the poor and to share the benefits of future growth.

"This is exactly why social protection in support of employment is one of the six thematic priorities of the Social inclusion strategy that DEP is elaborating through extensive consultation with our partners" said Ljerka Marić, Director of DEP. "I believe that work such as this report builds our knowledge base for policy making. We should not neglect the value of continuing to strengthen our BH statistical system to inform policy making based on evidence", concluded Marić.

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