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Bosnia Also Suffers ‘Balkanization’ of the Pocketbook With PM-Yugoslavia Rdp, Bjt

May 3, 1993

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ The fragmentation of Bosnia extends to the pocketbook. At least six currencies are in circulation.

But most are nearly worthless.

For example, it costs 60,000 Bosnian dinars to buy a liter of fuel in Kiseljak, headquarters of the U.N. Protection Force. That usually means filling every pocket with a wad of cash.

But it’s no problem if you have German marks. The same amount of fuel, about a quarter gallon, costs three marks.

Officially, the national currency is the Bosnia-Herzegovina dinar, distributed only as paper bills printed in Switzerland.

But ″BH,″ as they are known, don’t generally circulate in Sarajevo. By the time the new bills were printed, the city already was under siege by Bosnian Serb forces, who refused to let the United Nations fly in the money.

So the government circulated ″Sarajevo dinars,″ special notes which look different but are nominally worth the same - not much.

The Bosnian government controls only a small percentage of the territory. The majority is controlled by Bosnian Serbs and Croats. In those areas, many people use the non-convertible national currencies of Croatia or Yugoslavia.

But the real king is the German mark. The U.S. dollar stands a distant second and generally trades equal to the mark, although the dollar officially is worth about 1.60 marks.

At the public market in Sarajevo, crowds of men offer to exchange marks or dollars for wads of Bosnian money. At the main hotel in Tuzla, one of the few major cities outside of Sarajevo under government control, a man’s haircut costs 20,000 Bosnian dinars. That’s one mark, or about 60 U.S. cents.

For those who must survive on dinars, the chaos has created a situation reminiscent of Germany after World War I, when inflation was so high it took a wheelbarrow full of money to buy bread.

″I live from my salary, which is one German mark a month,″ said a Nermina Dzafic, 46, an electrical engineer with a master’s degree, and a mother of two. ″But I don’t really live on that. I live on humanitarian aid.″

In areas devoid of foreign currency, cigarettes have even surpassed the dinar as a preferred currency.

During the siege of Srebrenica, the French humanitarian organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) made sure plenty of cigarettes were included in U.N. convoys because its local staff refused to be paid in anything else.

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