Number of municipal employees has doubled for a decade

Overstaffing in municipalities. This is the initial conclusion of the research of the Center for Investigative Journalism SCOOP Macedonia. From a sample of 10% of the total number of municipalities in the country, for 10 years the number of employees has increased at least twice.

Number of employees in a representative sample of municipalities in 2005 and 2014

Municipality Number of employees in the municipality in 2005 Number of employees in the municipality in 2014 Increase
Berovo 23 34 11
Bogdanci 13 22 9
Chashka 12 19 7
Demir Hisar 28 33 5
Karposh 123 299 176
Brvenica 12 24 12
Krivogashtani 5 21 16
Butel 35 60 25
Jegunovce 11 22 11
Gostivar 82 124 42
Shuto Orizari 21 23 2
Mogila 8 14 6
Ilinden 11 40 29
Dojran 8 16 8
Lozovo 4 13 9
Total 396 764 368

The table shows that municipality Krivogastani has largest growth in the number of employees. In 2005 it had only 5 employees, while in 2014 there are 21. This is an increase of 4 times. The mayor of this municipality, Toni Zatkoski, says that recruitments have been made by his predecessors.

toni zatkovski

Toni Zatkoski

“I’ve been a mayor for two years, we have only two employments, one secretary and one authorized accountant. Of 70 posts, as projected in the systematization for municipality Krivogastani, we have employed only 30%”, says Zatkoski, mayor of this municipality.

Krivogastani municipality has 6,150 inhabitants and according to Zatkoski’s claims, has no problems with financing the obligations that its local government has.

For experts, employment of people in the departments of taxation and budget is a positive thing.

According to the professor at the Law Faculty in Skopje, Aleksandra Maksimovska, whose specialty is fiscal decentralization and local finances, there is no overstaffing in financial departments because people there are most needed.

Aleksandra Maksimovska

Aleksandra Maksimovska

“The municipality has most work and earns most by charging taxes, but in other sectors there could be political pressures for employment”, says Maksimovska.

Municipality of Karpos has two records in the area of employment in municipal administration. We asked this Skopje local self-government for data on the number of employees from 2005 to 2014, but they gave us data from 2009 to 2014. According to the answers, in 2009 in Karpos there were 123 employees with permanent employment and this number was held constant until 2011.

In 2012 and 2013 for the preparation of local elections Stevco Jakimovski doubled the number of employees with permanent employment. In these two years permanent employment decisions were given for 104 new jobs in the municipality Karpos. It is the first record.

The second record was in 2015 when the administration in this Skopje municipality was reduced by 105 jobs. This is perhaps the biggest reduction of the number of employees in a municipality in Macedonian history. Supposedly the question arises if the employment of the employees close to SDSM, his former party, had terminated.

We called Jakimovski for a statement a few times, but he did not answer our telephone calls. Besides the permanently employed people, municipality Karpos has over 100 employees with temporary employment, and a record is 2015 when the municipality has hired 167 people.

From the Ministry of Information Society and Administration we did not receive a response within the legal 30 days time to respond, according to the Law on Free Access to Public Information. We received the replies 45 days later. They did not have the required data, but only explanation that they had data from 2011 to 2013 and that for 2014, due to technical problems, the Annual report on data from the Register of civil servants for 2014 would be published with some delay. According to the latest data for 2013, in the country there are 11,524 public servants, an increase for 3,400 people in just one year.

In 2014 the number of civil servants in Macedonia increased by 900 people and was 16,212, while the number of civil servants for 2014 has not been released yet.

In the reports that the Ministry of Information Society and Administration referred, there is no division between the officials in local government and at state level.


Employments without standards


Macedonian municipalities have no standards for employment. It is not known how many employees should there be for a certain number of inhabitants. So in the experimental number of municipalities we considered, one employee in the municipality Karpos serves only 161 residents, in the municipality Brvenica an employee of the municipal administration serves 660 residents, while in Aracinovo 1,100 inhabitants. Table 3.

Maksimovska emphasizes that each municipality runs its employment policy itself.

“The City of Skopje manages all local taxes and then transfers the assets to all 10 municipalities”, she says.

From this it follows that Skopje municipalities including Karpos should have fewer employees compared to other municipalities because part of the work is carried out by the City of Skopje.

But in practice it is not like that.

Stojche Samardziski, former president of the Executive Council of the Municipality of Stip from 1986 to 1990 agrees there is overstaffing (a function that is equal to the present mayor).

“When I was a chairman of the executive council the municipality of Stip had about 100 employees. My assessment was that the municipality could operate with 60 employees. Then the municipality of Stip had more powers than the present. Now the municipality of Stip has several times more employees with reduced powers”, says Samardziski.

He adds that overstaffing makes municipalities uneconomical and unproductive.

If you calculate the costs for each employee, overstaffing costs ordinary citizens too much. Thus the average gross salary paid in Macedonia in January was 32,015 denars. Every citizen in the municipality Karpos for the services of the municipal administration should give 200 denars or an average family should give 800 denars. Only 10 kilometers from Karpos, in municipality Aracinovo, it will cost only 30 denars.


Overstaffing eats people’s money


Instead of investments, taxpayers’ money is spent on irrational employment. In some municipalities this percentage covers epidemic proportions in the budgets of local governments. Over 80% of the budget goes for salaries, compensations of the salaries and material costs for functioning of municipalities.

According to Bekim Imeri, person in charge of social impacts of projects financed by the World Bank, overstafiing in a municipality leads to reduction in funds to improve services to citizens.

Academic Abdulmenaf Bexheti, professor at Southeast European University in Tetovo believes that public money is spent extremely irrationally.


Abdulmenaf Bexheti

“Municipalities turn into platforms for recruitment of party militants. The act of overstaffing means conversion in terms of the potential that local governments possess. Money in the municipalities is used inefficiently, ineffectively and non-economically. Overstaffing in Tetovo has doubled if compared with Bitola although both municipalities have similar population. Another reason is that Albanian politicians can not break through the central government in terms of employment and they use local government as an outlet to fill it with administration”, says Bexeti.

He added that overstaffing will be a long-term problem, as municipal budgets are adjusted to daily political needs of the military party, and not the needs of citizens who finance the operation of municipalities.

To make a positive change, limits must be set.

We need to determine what percentage of budgets can go for salaries and how much for investments and local economic development. The tendency so far goes in favor of salaries, which is very bad for the development of municipalities. A republic secretary should be appointed to monitor ratios for salaries and investments, says Bexheti.

Samardziski agrees with this.

“In former Yugoslavia there were specific limits for certain items and as a municipality these limits could not be exceeded. If exceeded, controls came from Skopje and Belgrade and immediately proposed penalties at magistrates for those responsible for the budget”, says Samardziski.

He added that now the control of spending public money is very low.

We demanded a statement from Goran Angelov, former mayor of Vinica, who later worked as a consultant for local self-governments. First he promised us a statement, but later did not answer on his mobile phone. Otherwise he is now director of landfill Drisla.

(The story was is supported within the NED project “Raising Awareness about Corruption through Investigative Reporting”)