The travel expenses of the MPs remain legal means of corruption

Hari Lokvenec. Photo: META

Parliament’s decision to reduce the reimbursement for MPs’ travel expenses and the previous amendment of the law are sheer cover-up – an amendment without an essence, which will result in further hefty and unrealistic Budget money drain based on MPs’ travel expenses

 

Parliament’s decision to reduce the reimbursement for MPs’ travel expenses and the previous amendment of the law are sheer cover-up – an amendment without an essence, which will result in further hefty and unrealistic Budget money drain based on MPs’ travel expenses

 

Author: Teofil Blazhevski

 

SDSM’s MP, Hari Lokvenec, made a statement on MPs’ travel expenses, which contains a spin:

We have reduced the travel expenses for 30 percent, thus we have fulfilled our pre-election promise

[Source: Telma TV/news, date: 28 August 2018]

 

 

Counter-spin: While elaborating the new decision that allows reduction of travel expenses of MPs who don’t live in Skopje and go to work with their own vehicle, SDSM’s MP, Hari Lokvenec, formally speaking, tells the truth.

It is correct that travel expenses have been reduced for 30 percent, it is correct that by following specific rules, such as paying tolls with a bank card, there will be less chances for abuse. It is correct that by renting an apartment, 500 euros net sum paid by the Parliament, there is another possibility to save money for that purpose… All of this is correct, however, it’s a matter of formality, not essence.

This skillfully prepared legislation and bylaw allows draining huge amounts of the Budget, i.e. the Parliament’s separate budget, and has been taken advantage of in the past 12 years for a sort of a legal corruption because certain MPs have been receiving approximately 20 thousand euros annually on the basis of travel expenses.

All of this became possible thanks to a legislation, and its provision on the use of travel expenses is laid down as follows:

Reimbursement for using a personal automobile for official purposes – up to the amount that does not exceed 30% of the retail price of a liter of petrol spent by the vehicle in question per kilometer.

With a decision made by the Parliament in 2006, this provision is applied in a skewed manner: only the upper limit of 30 percent is heeded, there is no functional control of the petrol receipts, toll receipts and whether the MPs travel with their own vehicle. Therefore, we have the enormous and totally unjustified amounts of tens of thousands euros annually on the basis of MPs’ travel expenses.

After the public figured out that the new Parliament has continued the same practice in 2017 and 2018 and that SDSM’s MPs receive huge amounts (during opposition times this party criticized this practice conducted by VMRO-DPMNE harshly), SDSM ended up in a dead end, so after several flimsy excuses in early 2018, it had to do something. Following the dissensions and agreements between the parliamentary parties that lasted for several months, the “judgment of Solomon” was reached – the travel expenses for the price of a liter of petrol per elapsed kilometer shall be reduced from 30 to 20 percent. After the law has been passed during the summer, the MPs made two more decisions yesterday. One on the apartment rent, and the second, adopted by the Committee on Elections and Appointments, on operationalization of the legislation.

From numbers’ viewpoint, it is a 30 percent reduction, that is, one third of the expenses paid thus far. But what does that actually mean?

It means that Hari Lokvenec, an MP from Prilep, for example, has been paid 15 thousand euros on the basis of travel expenses per year, and now he will be receiving 10 thousand. Is this 5000 euros reduction significant? Yes. But, are the 10 thousand euros given as an example a realistic number that cover the travel expenses and vehicle depreciation? No. This amount rests far beyond the realistic sum for covering the travel expenses and vehicle depreciation, because neither the vehicle has spent so much petrol, nor has depreciated to that extent in a year in order to be covered by that amount.

Hence this amount, the reduced percentage of 30 to 20 percent per elapsed kilometer can be considered legal means of corruption of MPs in the Parliament of the RM. And they are not alone. This legislation governs all elected and appointed official in the country.

In one of its articles from January 2018, Truthmeter gave examples of numbers that show the real amounts.

Therefore, Lovenec’s statement (and the numerous similar statement by SDSM’s MP, Tomislav Tuntev, regarding the same issue) is correct, formally speaking. However, from a profound point of view, Parliament’s decision to reduce the reimbursement for MPs’ travel expenses and the previous amendment of the law are a sheer cover-up – an amendment without an essence, which will result in further hefty and unrealistic Budget money drain based on MPs’ travel expenses.

Due to the aforementioned, we assess Lokvenec’s statement as a spin.

 


This article was created within the Truthmeter project implemented by Metamorphosis Foundation for Internet and Society with the financial support of the Foundation Open Society - Macedonia (FOSM). The content is the responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Foundation Open Society - Macedonia.