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Interview - Mijo Brajkovic, most successful exporter from BH
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  01/9/2002 | Politics | Unrated
Interview - Mijo Brajkovic, most successful exporter from BH
Interview - Mijo Brajkovic, most successful exporter from BH 
Frank Brozovich 
January 07, 2002 
HEADLINES, Monday January 07, 2002 
Source: Slobodna Dalmacija, January 04, 2002 
Aluminij d.d. Mostar ended one more fiscal year with exceptional results in 
spite of the political spasm it was working in. We asked Mijo Brajkovic how 
the company and he himself handled all of this, and will it finally pull out 
of this political squeeze this year. 
            "Despite political pressure, we made production progress in the 
year 2001. we reached record metal production of 95.6 thousand tons, which 
is our all-time record. That is an increase of 1,000 tons and it put us at 
the top among aluminum producers in the world. 
            The average pay in Aluminij is 1,300 marks, and we all received 
Christmas bonuses in the amount of 70% of our pays. I would like to see 
someone in Croatia boast with these results. If we add that in the past year 
we set aside 17 million KM for customs, duties, benefits, and taxes, then we 
can ask ourselves what these petty politicians want from us and how long will 
they keep accusing us." 
And what kind of financial results resulted from that? How much did Aluminij 
exports, in 2001, amount to? 
            "Increased productivity and production didn't follow even 
expected financial indicators. Our products are on the world's aluminum 
market in London, and their price fell last year. Aside from that, our 
exports for the year 2001 amount to 300 million DEM, and we export to 
Germany, Switzerland, France, USA, Canada, and other countries. 
            It can be said that Aluminij has become a pet in the world; it is 
the only BiH representative in the business world of the West and receives 
credit without any problems. 
            The Federal Premier Alija Behmen stated recently that BiH did not 
receive anything from the international community in 2001, but we are just 
realizing a credit of 140 million DEM for electrolysis modernization, and 
these days we are finalizing credit for rolling mill modernization. 
            Two months ago, in Geneva, we received a plaque for the quality 
of our products. And while others in the world are praising us, in BiH we 
are being labeled and accused." 
In the year 2001, political pressure on Aluminij, and on yourself personally, 
was fierce, how did your foreign partners react to that? 
"That nasty politics didn't vacillate our partners and investors in the world. 
The BiH delegation lead by Dr. Zlatko Lagumdzija visited Europe and informed 
on the pressures to Aluminij. I think that Dr. Lagumdzija was told that our 
company is a strategic partner of German companies and that it would be wise 
to treat Aluminij d.d differently. 
A substantial amount of German capital is invested into Aluminij, and it 
isn't good that its leadership be exhausted in defense from political 
And what impact did this have on Aluminij itself? 
            "We say that politics didn't cause any damage in the world, but 
within our country it did because we had to expend 30% of our force on 
skirmishing, and not on production." 
The Republic of Croatia, actually TLM Sibenik, owns about 20% of Aluminij 
shares. It is the first Aluminij investor? 
            "We learned that they reacted somewhat secretively in order to 
protect the interests of TLM. We would have liked it if they did this loudly 
and publicly, so that our people know what's going on. 
            The Republic of Croatia invested 18 million DEM in the first 
steps of renewing Aluminij, and it is the first investor. That is capital 
that the Republic of Croatia itself must protect, and it was brought into 
question with some sort of petty-political games. 
            And the blow to TLM's capital is a clear message to all foreign 
investors that investing into BiH is not safe, and thus is not smart." 
Lagumdzija announced that priority number one for the New Year is the 
continuation of economic reforms in BiH; which were begun with the arrival of 
the Alliance to rule. What are those economic reforms? 
            "I am not aware of those reforms. They haven't reached us yet, 
but I'm happy when I read about it. We in Aluminij will be the first to 
welcome economic reforms." 
According to Lagumdzija the second priority of those reforms is strengthening 
state authorities and its institutions. What do you think about that? 
            "Without real economic reforms at the whole of BiH level, there 
can't be those on the plan of state government and its institutions. The 
state is not its own purpose and must be regulated with good laws. It must 
open itself to those who work successfully and export, and that doesn't exist. 
            There are no reforms if those who work successfully and export 
are not stimulated, because then we will create a black and gray economy 
ourselves, which will cause the priorities to be endangered, and that means 
the economy." 
What does that mean from your experience in Aluminij? 
            "Our company is the largest exporter in BiH, but we never 
received even 1KM in the name of stimulation, rather certain people, who we 
know of, blacken our name to our exporters. That was done without success. 
            We pay the most expensive electric energy. We paid for war 
damages by ourselves, we resolved the issue of laid off employees on our own, 
and we are proud to say that Aluminij did not receive a penny of the many 
billions of dollars that the international community invested into BiH." 
As long as we are talking about these problems, tell us how you personally 
came to be on the Hercegovacka Banka provisional administrator's unfit list? 
            "That at any rate is a question to ask Toby Robinson. I 
personally don't have an account, a savings-bank book, or credit with 
Hercegovacka Banka. Nor am I a shareholder of the bank. The same goes for 
Aluminij. We operated through this bank and all of this was done very 
            However, Hercegovacka Banka owes us 300 thousand dollars, so we 
should put it on our list. The facts are not important in this whole matter, 
but rather that I am Mijo Brajkovic and I don't expect that someone will 
apologize to me for this false accusation." 
The decisions on laid-off Aluminij employees and severance pays made their 
way to the FBiH Council for executing Article 143 of the Labor Law. How did 
they pass over with this institution? 
            "Erneveza Grustanovic, the president of that Council, announced 
on the Federal Television before Christmas that only Aluminij's decisions 
were brought out in accordance with the law. She added that Aluminij's 
decisions were prioritized to have their legality evaluated. We ask 
ourselves why we were a federal priority, as if we are the biggest criminals 
in this country. 
And now that the council has announced that everything is in perfect order, I 
personally protest against those labor unionists, politicians, and 
journalists, who accused and labeled us as nationalistic hardliners for six 
whole years. If there were rule of law in BiH, we would sue them, but we are 
aware of the fact that nothing would come of it." 
What is up with the privatization of Aluminij? Why hasn't privatization come 
to order yet? 
            "First I would like to say that according to existing valid 
documentation, Aluminij is a company of cantonal relevance, and is under the 
authorization of the Cantonal Agency for Privatization, not the Federal 
Agency. Two years ago we submitted all the necessary documentation for 
privatization to the Cantonal Agency, but nothing has been set in motion yet." 
What is the hold up? 
            "We were told that they were waiting for the OHR's report on 
Aluminij's operations, which was completed three months ago, and still 
nothing. Somebody is obstructing this and we are afraid that our 
privatization will fall into the pre-election scissors, and that many people 
will begin to lay claim on us and manipulate with us. 
And this would be damaging to all the peoples as well as to our region. We 
wonder how other companies that submitted their documentation to the Cantonal 
Agency after we did, have gone into privatization, and we are still waiting. 
            Somebody has to explain to us what the hold-up is when the law 
clearly states that two months after submitting documentation, if no faults 
are found, privatization must be implemented." 
You are moving towards modernization of the whole company, all of its 
components, which will be completed by June of this year. What is the word 
on human resources for the new technologies? 
            "We hold the principle of new people for new technologies, and we 
do so by sending our people abroad on specialization. To date we have sent 
eighteen of our people to the USA, eighteen to Germany, and at the current 
time we have two groups in Sweden who are doing a course on expenses for 
Aluminij. We know that new technology and new equipment are not enough, but 
that the people are what is important, and that is how we act. We must be 
concerned about the future of Aluminij, and that means young employees." 
We are currently in the beginning of the year 2002, and what does this year 
hold for Aluminij? 
            "In June of this year we will complete the modernization that is 
currently in process, and an increase in production will follow immediately. 
By the end of the year we will have produced 101 thousand tons of metal, and 
in the year 2003, production will reach 118 thousand tons. Imagine what 
constant increases in production, and not hiring new people, means for BiH. 
            Increasing capacity utilization and lowering the cost of 
production? Have you ever heard anyone in BiH talk of increasing production 
and productivity? 
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