That’s the headline, anyway. And the piece starts out as though that’s a reasonable description of what’s happened:
When Bosnia abandoned communism about two decades ago, officials devised a plan that wouldn’t mean mass layoffs for state workers. It was supposed to be a smooth transition after the 1992-1995 war that left 100,000 dead and devastated the country’s infrastructure.
But it has been a disaster for people like Munevera Drugovac, a 58-year-old widow, who works for a company that was bought by a businessman in 2004. She hasn’t been paid in 19 months.
“Back then, I didn’t have electricity and heating because of the war,” she said. “Now, I don’t have it because of unpaid bills.”
More than 80 percent of privatizations have failed, becoming a core reason behind Bosnia’s worst unrest since the end of the war. Many well-connected tycoons have swept into these companies, stripping them of their assets, declaring bankruptcy and leaving thousands without jobs or with minimal pay.
So that’s privatisation, is it? The problem here is the selling of state-run interests to the private sector, is it?
No. That’s not the problem:
The Bosniak-Croat Federation is further divided in 10 cantons, each with a similar set of institutions, meaning that nearly 4 million people are governed by more than 150 ministries on four different levels of government – an expensive and ineffective system that scares off foreign investors and is preventing the country from joining the European Union.
The monthly salaries of parliamentarians are the highest in the region — up to 3,500 euros ($4,750.55) — while average salaries don’t exceed 350 euros.
Corruption is widespread and high taxes for the country’s bloated public sector eat away at residents’ paychecks. Privatizations have decimated the middle class and sent the working class into poverty.
Some observers believe widespread corruption has been allowed to flourish, benefiting an elite group with political connections.
“They have penetrated the state, turning the government itself into a facade,” said Denisa Kostovicova, an associate professor of global politics at the London School of Economics. “What now appears as a dysfunctional state is in actual fact a very functional system that distributes the privileges, but only to the networked.”
The problem is a still over-powerful state, cumbersome bureaucracy and the habits of communism.
But glance at the headline and you’d think it was the opposite.
UPDATE: Tim points out the same sort of corruption happens here, largely among the Labour Party and Union movement.