Counter-Spin: One Spin After Another in the VMRO-DPMNE Press Release
It is neither true that the crisis is escalating due to incompetence, nor is it true that testing is the cause of an increased number of infected and dead. It is neither true that there is no protective equipment for healthcare workers, nor is it true that government measures will bring economic collapse. It is not true that with the increase in excise duty there will be inflation and the enrichment of oligarchs… Of course, this does not mean that every measure taken by the government during the corona crisis is ideal or flawless, but it is absolutely inappropriate for every measure to be spun
Author: Teofil Blaževski
VMRO-DPMNE addressed the public with an announcement which is almost entirely filled with spins:
Spin: The health and economic crisis in the Republic of Macedonia is escalating. The incompetence of Zoran Zaev and his associates is taking its toll. The number of deaths and infected is increasing every day, and there is no mass testing. The number of infected doctors is increasing, and there is no protective equipment.
… The slow and frivolous reaction of the government when it comes to helping the Macedonian economy and saving the jobs of the citizens will mean a collapse for the economy and a high unemployment rate.
History with SDSM in power is repeating. Instead of helping the ordinary citizen, the oligarchs and their millions are a priority. The announcement for raising the excise duty on fuels will directly hit the pockets of the people, the budget hole of Zaev and Angelovska will be filled with the little left for the people.
Fast and decisive steps are needed to save the economy because every hour it is getting closer to collapse…
[Source: VMRO-DPMNE – Press Release – Date: 14. April 2020]
Since the beginning of the corona crisis in the country, it has been stated and argued dozens of times that the main opposition party is using the situation exclusively for propaganda and political purposes intended to increase the party’s rating. The same can be stated about the announcement made on 14 April 2020, entitled “SDSM is taking us 30 years back in times of criminal transition”. All four paragraphs are with spins, i.e. are composed of twisted truths.
In the first paragraph, there is a relatively accurate information – “the health and economic crisis is escalating.” Everything that comes after is spinning of the truth. It is neither true that it is escalating due to “the incompetence of Zoran Zaev and his associates”, nor is it true that the number of infected and deaths is increasing because “there is no mass testing”. It is also not true that “the number of infected doctors is increasing” because “there is no protective equipment.” The arguments have been repeated and confirmed many times: “the health crisis is escalating” because it is escalating wherever the virus is detected, due to the very nature of this virus and the disease. That was expected and was announced in our country as well.
The above-mentioned testing is carried out in accordance with the maximum capacities of the state for the tests that with the highest percentage of certainty show the presence of the virus in the actively infected persons, and the screening with the so-called rapid tests will only show if some patients have already developed antibodies to the particular virus. After this, they will have to be tested again with the method now being implemented by the Institute of Public Health and several other laboratories.
Finally, the evidence that doctors are infected due to a lack of protective equipment is small and unsubstantiated. First, the figures for such a thing have not been proven, but it has been proven by inspection that protection protocols are not always respected in our country, but in the world as well, which is why there is a certain percentage of infected health workers everywhere.
THE “COLLAPSE OF THE ECONOMY” IS A SPIN
The second paragraph contains a spin in the part where it is stated that “the slow and frivolous reaction of the government when it comes to helping the Macedonian economy and saving the jobs of the citizens will mean a collapse for the economy.” There is a lot of criticism from some businesses and some experts that the measures are slow and not always accessible to all companies. But there is also support for those measures from other experts and from international financial institutions. In fact, the Government is correcting some of the regulations, as recently announced by the Minister of Finance, Nina Angelovska. But the fact that all this will lead to the “collapse of the economy” is a twisted truth.
There are three scenarios, and even in the worst case, the word collapse cannot be used, because all previous predictions are that the measures will slowly begin to be removed in May or the end of May, after which economic activity will come to life in June. Finally, economic activity is at the most debated topic around the world, in parallel with the health crisis and the solutions for the virus itself.
WHY WOULD AN EXCISE DUTY ON FUELS BE ILLEGITIMATE?
The third paragraph deals with allegations about the idea of whether to increase the excise duty on fuel. Why would it be illegitimate for the Government, in conditions of unexpected reduced income on several grounds, to try temporarily, emphasizing the term temporarily, to collect more money in the state treasury (the same treasury from which VMRO-DPMNE seeks to be provided help here, there, everywhere) in this case tens of millions of euros more with increased excise duty on fuels?
Secondly, let us recall that this measure requires equalizing the excise duty on the so-called red oil with diesel fuels, something that has been detected for years as a source of abuse by both transporters and citizens, and has also an environmental aspect.
And finally, in conditions of drastically reduced consumption and drastically reduced prices of oil derivatives, would raising the excise duty mean rushing into the pockets of the citizens and enriching the oligarchs by increasing the prices of other products? For example, why would a transporter in intercity transport reach for the increase in the prices of their services, when even with increased excise duty they would have far cheaper fuel than before the crisis? And all this would lead to inflation? In fact, the NBRM has already come up with a projection of inflation even lower than expected for this year.
It is also quite illogical to claim that with such a measure to increase the excise duty “the oligarchs and their millions are a priority”, i.e. that the oil oligarchs will benefit from such a measure. First of all, it is unclear why any businessman (or oligarch) would benefit from higher taxes. On the contrary, with lower excise duties, oil company owners can expect to sell more petroleum products. This means that the increased excise duty does not benefit them either. Aside from another scenario, where the cost of increased excise duty cannot be fully transferred to consumers, and then companies will have to reduce their selling prices for competitive reasons, and thus lose some of their profits.
And finally, the fourth paragraph is a recycling of the second paragraph for the “collapse” and for the citizens who would be left without jobs.
VMRO-DPMNE undoubtedly spins that “SDSM is taking us 30 years back in times of criminal transition”. Maybe a more true statement would be that with such spinning announcements which the party uses for communicating with the public, we are taken decades back, in the times of the propaganda of “Zastava Film” from the SFRY. Of course, this does not mean that every measure taken by the government during the corona crisis is ideal or flawless, but it is absolutely inappropriate for every measure to be spun.