Bosnian school offers scholarships to people banned from US

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An international school in Bosnia has announced it will extend scholarships to refugees and other students affected by President Donald Trump’s travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The United World College’s branch in the southern city of Mostar announced Friday that it would invite students affected by the ban “to study alongside fellow students from the U.S. and over 50 other countries to foster international understanding.”

The school explained the decision was motivated by its belief in equal opportunities and the value of diversity.

The United Colleges movement was founded in 1962 with the aim of overcoming Cold War divisions by selecting scholarship students from around the world to live and learn together. It has 17 schools across the globe.

IMF

The International Monetary Fund has put its loan agreement with Bosnia on hold because the country’s federal and regional authorities have failed to enact reforms they agreed to, the IMF resident representative in Bosnia said on a day earlier.

In November, the IMF agreed with Bosnia’s multiple governments that early in 2017 it would resume aid and disburse more money under its 553 million-euro loan programme, if key reforms and next year’s budgets were adopted.

The IMF has already disbursed 79.2 million euros to Bosnia’s two autonomous regions, the Bosniak-Croat Federation and the Serb Republic, under the programme approved last September. The two regions, which are linked via a weak central government, need IMF cash to secure their financing.

The federal and regional governments have passed their 2017 budgets, but five out of 11 reforms have not been completed.

“We cannot expect the formal completion of the first review in February because there are delays in the completion of prior actions. We are waiting for them to be completed for the IMF staff to recommend board approval of the first review,” Francisco Parodi, the IMF’s resident representative, told Reuters.

Among those reforms are higher taxes on fuel to help build a pan-European highway, which would unlock about 1 billion marka from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. That has been held up in the national parliament by disagreement between the two regions on how the revenues will be shared.

“We have reached a political agreement on the need to raise excise taxes, but we disagree on how they will be distributed,” said Goran Mirascic, the advisor to Federation Prime Minister Fadil Novalic. But he said the agreement on the revenue distribution should be reached next month.

The Bosniak-Croat Federation also still needs to pass a new banking law and sign a memorandum with the EBRD and the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank’s private-sector arm, on due diligence in the region’s two state-owned telecoms firms.

The two companies, the Sarajevo-based BH Telecom and Mostar-based HT Eronet, are supposed to be restructured and prepared for privatisation. Mirascic said that memorandum should be signed later this month.

The national parliament also needs to amend a law on a deposit insurance agency, and the central government must pass a new wage bill.