Analysis of progress implementing the RS 2011-2015 Employment Strategy.

The 2011-2015 Employment Strategy of the Republic of Srpska is the first medium-term strategic, methodologically rigorous document determining the basis for the development and growth of employment in the Republic of Srpska. On March 24, 2011, the National Assembly of RS gave green light to the Government to apply the “therapy” prescribed by the strategic plan intended to tackle the republic’s massive unemployment problem. More than two and a half years later, as think tank specializing in labor and employment public policy, the Center for Research and Studies GEA has conducted a brief analysis of progress made thus far in achievement the strategic goals of the Employment Strategy.

Results of this analysis (presented in the form of info graphics in local language) clearly show that, up until now, the goals of the Employment Strategy of RS 2011-2015 have not been realized. On the contrary, when considering three primary employment indicators – the number of people employed, the number of unemployed, and the percentage of passive persons – the republic’s labor market situation is worse than in 2009 and 2010, when the strategic plan was being prepared. The responsibility for such poor results do not lie with any single institution, as there are many complex economic factors that help explain this failure.

At the same time, we cannot ignore the facts and refuse to face up to the seriousness of this problem – the greatest social-economic problem in the Republic of Srpska.

In the second half of this year, the Republic of Srpska Government prepared and presented the document Information for the Realization of the Employment Strategy of the Republic of Srpska 2011-2015 for the period 2011-2012 to members of the National Assembly of RS at the 29th regular session. Listed as the 36th of 37 topics on the assembly’s agenda, this document – the most important strategic document for the labor market of the RS – did not attract significant interest among either the delegates, nor the public. A resolution was passed with the votes of 49 delegates (no one voted “no”, while 17 remained “neutral”) stating that the National Assembly of RS agrees with the document, specifically: ”After analyzing the general economic situation in the Republic of Srpska and the surrounding region on which our economy depends a great deal, and the labor market-related measures and activities undertaken by the Government of RS aimed at implementing the Employment Strategy of the Republic of Srpska, it can be concluded that, despite the extremely powerful influence of the global economic crisis and recession, in the Republic of Srpska there was no dramatic deterioration of the situation in the area of employment”!

The resolution further concludes: “Keeping in mind the conditions under which the Employment Strategy has been realized and the fact that this document relates to a period shorter than two years (June 2011 – December 2012), we find that there is no need to revise the plan’s strategic goals, and that the strategy should be upheld in the future by implementing employment action plans and other labor market activities”!

We find such resolutions averting attention from the republic’s internal weaknesses and finding fault in external influences such as the  ‘global economic crisis’ only to be absolutely unacceptable, especially when we know that there have been no significant achievements in solving the problem of unemployment even in much more favorable economic times, when the real GDP growth rate of RS was more than 6% annually (during the period of 2006 – 2008, for example). The passive approach taken by the republic’s most important decision makers needs to change. Instead, it is necessary to:

  • supplement the document Information for the Realization of the Employment Strategy of the RS with concrete data on the progress (or not) made towards the achievement of the defined strategic goals based on previously determined indicators of success, and to present such document in the form of a report, not a document with “information.” This official RS Employment Strategy report should then be made available to the public to initiate a wider process of consultation and expert debate on future directions and actions;
  • carefully research and revise the Employment Strategy. Otherwise, its content becomes worthless. Although a detailed and thorough labor market analysis was performed in 2010 while drawing up the Employment Strategy, when the labor market had already been badly impacted by recession, it is now completely evident that almost none of the stated goals of the Strategy will be achieved. It should be determined whether this situation is largely attributable to overly ambitious goals recommended in the Strategy, and/or inadequate economic policy measures undertaken in the meantime;
  • place the Information for the Realization of the Employment Strategy of the RS document back on the National Assembly’s session agenda, so that delegates can have a clearer and more complete picture of the republic’s labor market tendencies and make informed decisions about future steps to be taken to achieve the goals set in the Employment Strategy.