President of the Association of Pensioners of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Redzo Mehic warned that if the Constitutional Court of the Federation of BiH does not declare it unconstitutional, the Law on Extraordinary Adjustment of Pensions Achieved under the Law on Service in the Armed Forces of BiH (AFBiH) adopted by the Federal Parliament awaiting constitutional review, will create huge stability problems for the FBiH Pension and Disability Insurance Institute and thus jeopardize pension payments for more than 400,000 beneficiaries.
At the same time, the Alliance of War Invalids of the Federation of BiH considers that the legal solutions according to which the basis for calculating pensions for members of the Armed Forces of BiH is increased are unconstitutional.
Pension in the amount of salary
As a reminder, this law enables about 2,300 members of the AFBiH to receive pensions in the amount of salaries, at a coefficient of 1.29. Thus, their average pension will amount to almost 1,200 BAM, while on the other hand, the other 426,469 pensioners in the Federation have an average pension of about 460 BAM.
In December last year, when this law was adopted in the House of Representatives of the FBiH Parliament, Federal Prime Minister Fadil Novalic appealed to the Constitutional Court to review its constitutionality and to adopt a temporary measure to suspend its decision pending a court decision on the merits. However, although the Constitutional Court has not yet ruled, the controversial law, proposed by parliamentarians Zijat Music and Ivo Tadic and backed by most of their colleagues in both houses, was passed in late March in the House of Peoples.
“They did it for sure because we are in an election year, in order to collect certain political points, without thinking about the consequences,” says Mehic.
He warns that the application of this law would completely expose the Pension and Disability Insurance Fund and return everything to the period when the dubiousness was 270 million BAM, pensions were miserable, and payments were irregular. He says that the losses existed precisely because the old Law on PIO, which was in force for 20 years, led to the devastation of the PIO fund, whose budget could not support the payments through the payment coefficient.
The fund was in deficit
“The fund was in deficit and we changed that and with the Government of Prime Minister Fadil Novalic in 2018 we passed a new Law on PIO. Then we switched to the federal budget, the government became the guarantor of payments, and since then we have had continuity in the surplus and regular payments of pensions. If the application of this law for members of the AFBiH starts now, tomorrow everyone else, professors, doctors, lawyers, bankers, engineers, will start asking for the same rights and coefficient. This law could not be adopted, because the Government neither comment it, nor can its implementation begin now until the Constitutional Court rules,” Mehic notes.
He expects that the Law on Extraordinary Adjustment of Pensions Achieved under the Law on Service in the AFBiH will be declared unconstitutional and that the Law on Pension and Disability Insurance, which entered into force on March 1, 2018, will apply equally to all.
“The old law was annulled due to the payment coefficient, which dragged everything to ruin. It is not possible, because someone previously had that right, to ask for it to be applied when it no longer exists in the Law on Pension and Disability Insurance. Now we have a points system and that is something completely different and fairer, because it means the length of service and how much you were paid. We are just looking for the same treatment for everyone. We asked for that in the Parliament as well, but everything was lobbied there, because the elections are coming,” concludes Mehic.
“These days, we read on the networks swearing at the state, institutions, individuals, by some professional soldiers of the Armed Forces, so we are interested in what it is about. Considering that this is a lobbying group, which pushed through a law which calculates the amount of pensions for members of the Armed Forces, which according to the current law would amount to 700 BAM, 1000 BAM, 1,600 BAM, it increases to the level of the best salary of each of them, hence it increases by 29 percent. The Prime Minister of FBiH assessed that the constitutionality of that law is questionable, and sent it for a review of constitutionality. And now the group is offended, because they seem to know for themselves that the text is unconstitutional. So, gentlemen, they want to increase the amount of the pension, even according to the unconstitutional law, and they swear by the state and wave their merits for it,” they point out in the RVI Alliance.
In this veteran organization, they remind that there are war invalids, demobilized veterans, members of martyrdom families, who receive minimum pensions or have not yet realized the right to retire, and live on 50 BAM of personal disability allowance.
“They ask what is with their merits, whether they are worth the minimum pensions, and for professional officers who have been employed and received salaries for 25 years, three to four times more,” they state in a letter from the Federation of War Invalids of FBiH.