Is there a problem with the payment of the increased minimum salary and money for the laid off workers prior the elections?

 

 

Experts and analysts believe that the Anti-Corruption Commission, which requested the payment of the increased minimum salary and the compensation for the laid off workers to be postponed until after the elections, does not interpret the Articles in the Laws legally, but politically. Their position is that these payments are government’s obligation assumed before the elections and that the laws on these measures have been adopted by the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia and have to be implemented within certain deadlines

 

Author: Rada Isovska-Manevska

 

The Anti-Corruption Commission has assessed that the payment of the recently increased minimum salary and the compensation for the laid off workers should not be made in September due to the election process and called the government and other state bodies to begin implementing the Law Amending the Law on Minimum Salary and the Law on Providing Financial Benefits to Unemployed Persons due to Privatization of Enterprises Owned Dominantly by the State after the local elections have ended.

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To clarify its position, the Commission invokes the Law on Prevention of Corruption and the Electoral Code i.e. the Articles related to extraordinary payments from budgetary funds.

Article 11 Paragraph 3 of the Law on Prevention of Corruption: No extraordinary payment of salaries, pensions, social welfare or other payments from budgetary funds or public funds, nor alienation of state capital and signing of collective agreements can be made as of the day of reaching the Decision on scheduling the elections until the day of ending the elections for a President of the Republic of Macedonia, deputies in the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia and the election of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia in accordance with the results from the elections, as well as from the day of reaching the Decision on scheduling the elections until the day of ending the elections for a mayor or members of the council, that is until the day of constituting the council of the municipalities and the City of Skopje

Article 8-a Paragraph 1 Indent 3 of the Electoral Code: From the day of adoption of the Decision on scheduling the elections until the completion of the election of President of the Republic of Macedonia, deputies in the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia and election of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, pursuant to the election results, as well as from the day of adoption of the Decision on scheduling the elections until the day of completion of the election of Mayor or Members of the Council, i.e. until the day of constituting the Council of the Municipalities and the City of Skopje, the following shall not be allowed:
– payment of salaries, pensions, social welfare or other payments and financial compensations from budgetary funds or public funds that are not regular monthly payments i.e. all annual transfers and payments or single transfers from budgetary funds or public funds, as well as selling of public capital or signing collective agreements.

Article 8-a Paragraph 3 of the Electoral Code: From the day of adoption of the Decision on scheduling the elections until the completion of the election of President of the Republic of Macedonia, Members of the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia and election of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, pursuant to the election results, as well as from the day of adoption of the Decision on scheduling the elections until the day of completion of the election of Mayors or Members of the Council, i.e. until the day of constituting the Council of the Municipalities and the City of Skopje, the Ministry of Finance shall publish all budgetary payments, except the regular salaries, pensions and utilities, on the website in a special database on budgetary costs during the election period.

The Anti-Corruption Commission announced that the responsible and managing persons of the state administration bodies, funds, agencies, directorates, public enterprises, public facilities, independent regulatory authorities founded by the state, trading companies founded by the state and other institutions founded by the state as well as other legal entities operating with state capital will be held accountable if they do not abide by the way it interprets the law.

Experts and analysts believe that the Anti-Corruption Commission does not interpret the laws legally, but politically. As they put it, Anti-Corruption Commission’s position is ungrounded, because the laws on increasing the minimum salary and payment of compensation for laid off workers are government’s obligation assumed before the elections and passed by the Parliament. Additionally, the money for implementation of the aforesaid laws has been provided by the budget rebalance, passed before the local elections were announced.

Osman Kadriu, professor at FON University, says there isn’t conflict of interests when it comes to the implementation of the Law on Minimum Salary and the Law on Providing Financial Benefits to Unemployed Persons due to Privatization of Enterprises Owned Dominantly by the State.

It’s a matter of an obligation assumed by the government before the elections, which transposed it into laws voted by the Parliament. These laws have implementation deadlines which should be respected and persons who have to receive minimum salary or compensation should actually receive them. All of this has nothing to do with the election process – Kadriu says.

Anti-Corruption Commission’s request for beginning the implementation of the laws after the local elections have ended is illogical, because they might last very long, according to Kadriu.

In such case, the minimum salary and the compensation for the laid off workers will have to be paid retroactively, and there’s no need for that, professor Kardiu highlights.

Slobodan Najdovski, economic analyst and part of the Ministry of Finance during the interim government, says there is no problem that would impede the payment of minimum salary and compensation for laid off workers.

These budgetary items have already been put in the budget during the rebalance, which was adopted by the Parliament prior the elections were announced, the laws just additionally specify when and how this money will be paid, he says.

He deems that the Anti-Corruption Commission interprets the laws from political aspect.

In this case, the Anti-Corruption Commission deliberately interprets the Articles in these laws the wrong way, because it’s still safeguarding the previous ruling set despite the fact that these Articles do not apply to public procurements in municipalities directly affected by the local elections if they are covered by the operation plan of Municipalities headed by the previous set and if money has been provided for them. These laws, especially the law on minimum salary, refer mostly to the private sector, which must obey the laws once they have entered into force – Najdovski adds.

Businesspersons, on the other hand, are amazed by Anti-Corruption Commission’s position.

We are obligated to pay the increased minimum salary for September, otherwise we shall pay hefty fines in accordance with law. If you carefully read the Law on Minimum Salary, you’ll find that it precisely explains that employers must pay the salary, and they shall receive the state money afterwards, within 40-day deadline. So, we must pay the minimum salary set forth in the law, says Angel Dimitrov, chairman of the Organization of Employers of Macedonia.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Policy say that the two laws have been passed and they have to be implemented.

The Law on Providing Financial Benefits to Unemployed Persons due to Privatization of Enterprises Owned Dominantly by the State and the Law Amending the Law on Minimum Salary have been proposed by a group of deputies in the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia, were later passed by the Parliament and published in the Official Gazette. The Law on Minimum Salary in RM stipulates that they payment of the minimum salary has to be made in September, whereas the law on providing financial benefits projects procedure for submission of request to the Employment Service Agency, according to the place of record. The laws have been passed and they have to be implemented by the competent institutions.

Moreover, the Ministry of Finance say that no additional money will be spent from the budget.

These funds have been projected in the budget rebalance, prepared by the Ministry of Finance and voted by the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia on 6 August, the Ministry of Finance say.

The 2017 local elections campaign began on 25 September. The Law Amending the Law on Minimum Salary was passed by the Parliament on 18 September. The Law on Providing Financial Benefits to Unemployed Persons due to Privatization of Enterprises Owned Dominantly by the State was passed on 19 September 2017.

 

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This article was created within the framework of the Project to increase the accountability of the politicians and political parties Truthmeter implemented by Metamorphosis. The article is made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for Democracy(NED) and The Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD), a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, an initiative that supports democracy, good governance, and Euroatlantic integration in Southeastern Europe. The content is the responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, National Endowment for Democracy, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, or its partners.

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