Authors: Angela Rajchevska and Bjanka Stankovic
Although belonging to opposing political camps, SDSM MP Aleksandar Kiracovski and VMRO-DPMNE MP Ilija Dimovski share a privilege given to them as MPs: they both use rent paid by the state and charge for travel expenses.
Until recently Kiracovski held the post of Secretary General of the SDSM, but was dismissed after being publicly criticized for the employment of his close relatives, for which the Anti-Corruption Commission initiated a procedure. In the past year Kiracovski was paid rent by the state of 390 Euros, and in the last four months of 2018 while staying in an apartment in Skopje, he received just over 1000 Euros for travel expenses.
To his political opponent, Ilija Dimovski from VMRO-DPMNE, the state pays a bit less for rent, or 370 Euros, but he also received a sum of twenty thousand denars for travel expenses.
MPS USING DOUBLE PRIVILEGES
Apart from Kiracovski and Dimovski, 10 other MPs used double privileges last year in the national Assembly. All twelve, in addition to receiving money for travel expenses, used state rent to rent apartments in exchange for not traveling to their hometown. A total of seven are from VMRO-DPMNE, four from SDSM and one from DUI.
MPs from VMRO-DPMNE on the list of double expenses are the MPs from Bitola – Liljana Zaturoska and Liljana Kuzmanovska, Ane Lashkoska from Prilep, Blagica Lasovska from Shtip, Magdalena Manaskova from Kocani, and Nada Cipusheva from Radovish.
They are joined by their colleagues from SDSM – Katerina Kuzmanovska from Strumica, Keti Smileska from Prilep and Meri Lazarova from Kavadarci.
The oldest MP Branko Manoilovski from DUI, who was born in the village of Kicinica, also uses double privileges.
Last year the Parliament ruled that MPs could use their own vehicle for business purposes for which they would be paid less than before, or rent an apartment up to a maximum of 400 Euros, allowing them to travel only on weekends and holidays. According to data obtained by SCOOP using the Law on Free Access to Public Information, this right to rent is currently used by a total of 14 MPs.
TWO MPS USE ONLY RENT
Two more MPs are on the list we received from Parliament, Krsto Jovanovski from VMRO-DPMNE from Veles and Rubin Zemon from Struga from the Party for Social and Economic Progress, who only use rent but not travel expenses.
TASEVA: IF A PERSON USES AN APARTMENT, HE/SHE CANNOT USE TRAVEL EXPENSES
“MPs, with the exception of rent for an apartment, are only entitled to real utility costs for the use of an apartment, of up to 100 Euros”, they say from the Assembly.
Slagjana Taseva, President of Transparency International, believes travel expenses are incompatible with rent.
“If a person uses an apartment paid for by the state, he cannot use travel expenses. Either one or the other. If he wants an apartment paid for by the state, then when he travels home, he will pay for himself, and if he wants travel expenses, then he will sit at home and travel to work”, Taseva says.
SOME WITH DOUBLE EXPENSES, BUT 11-YEAR OLD VEHICLES FOR THE SICK
While the MPs have the privilege of charging both rent and travel expenses, citizens are driven in 11-year-old ambulances. This was shown by the research of the Center for Civil Communications which in July this year published the database of all ambulances in the country. According to the data, the country has a total of 183 ambulances, more than half of which were donated.
Misha Popovic of the Institute for Democracy says that not all MPs abuse this right, that is, there are cases that need to be given a name and surname before they can be talked about as such.
“I think each case should be seen individually, not as a general practice”, Popovic adds.
HALF A MILLION EUROS TRAVEL EXPENSES FOR 2018
According to the data obtained by SCOOP, 76 MPs spent 496 thousand Euros on travel expenses last year. Which means that on average, for 2018, each MP was paid around 6,000 Euros. MP Alija Kamberovski from Struga spent the most, 18.156 Euros in total, and MP Krsto Mukoski the least, only 96 Euros.
Source: Data for 2018 obtained from the Assembly of NRM
MPs made the most payments in June, while the least in September
Source: Data for 2018 obtained from the Assembly of NRM
SCOOP has previously written about MP’s travel expenses i.e. they are leaders in the region regarding being paid for these types of expenses.
The list of MPs who are paid travel expenses each year mentions the same names. So, according to a Makfax survey, Alija Kamberoski is a record-holder of travel expenses paid by the Assembly for 2017. From March to November 2017 he received 12,847 Euros for travel expenses in just nine months. Whereas, from December 2017 to May 2018, he incurred travel expenses of 10,355 Euros.
Mira Stojchevska from Delchevo is the second highest paid for travel expenses last year. When it comes to travel expenses her name is not mentioned for the first time. Namely, in 2017 Stojchevska spent 11.736 Euros. Whereas, in the period from December 2017 to May alone, she spent 10,396 Euros.
Travel expenses for March – November 2017
Alija Kamberoski – 12.847 Euros
Liljana Zaturoska – 11.435 Euros
Mira Stojchevska – 11.736 Euros
Aleksandar Kiracovski – 11.065 Euros
Sasho Vasilevski – 9.850 Euros
Krsto Mukoski – 9.563 Euros
Katerina Kuzmanovska – 9.326 Euros
In July 2018, the law went through parliamentary procedures, thereby undergoing a change that MPs, instead of taking 30 percent, would take 20 percent of the mileage from the sale price of one liter of fuel. However, even the law changed, MPs are still charging the same amount for travelling from home to work and vice versa.
The accountability tool “stuck” in 2018
Half a year has passed and there is still no data on the public office holders’ expenses for 2019 on the government website Accountability tool for the expenses of public office holders. All data are for the previous years, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018. The first thing to see when clicking the page is that the former Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski, had most expenses as an official, and the current Prime Minister is in fourth place. The data in the section “Lease of an apartment (for people living outside Skopje)” are also old, with former Minister without Portfolio Jerry Naumoff topping the list.