Buy cars for the MPs?!

Zdravko Saveski

So, this happened as well. While answering a question about the high travel costs of the MPs, Zoran Zaev proposed, as one of the ideas, to buy cars for all MPs. The initial question about this Prime Minister’s idea remains unclear, what do we do with travel costs? The Prime Minister is certainly informed that cars do not run on water, and that buying a car does not automatically mean solving the scandalous high travel costs of MPs.

Another privilege of public officials is: the l-apanage (sarcastic reference to the term ‘apanage’). Although they have been unwillingly handing their resignations, SEC members will get 1,000 euros a month for the entire year, just as if they were still in office. The same will apply to members of the Anti-Corruption Commission that resigned. L-appanage was received and will be received by a whole series of officials who were abusing their personal benefits. As a reward to their abuse, obviously. Travel costs and apanage constitute the privilege of officials in relation to the common people, creating rules on their side that prescribe one to be valid for them, and other for the common citizen. As such, they are unacceptable and, if we are all equal before the Constitution and laws, this privilege must be removed.

Do you travel from the North Pole to the parliamentary sessions?

Such is the impression when you look at the MPs travel costs. Their salary is too low – 3.7 times higher than the average (in times when 80% of the citizens get lower salaries than the average!), and on top of that, they get travel expenses that are in most cases higher than their wages. The record-holder among the MPs, Alija Kamberoski, got 12,847 euros for travel expenses in just nine months, or 1,427 euros a month. In times of poverty, someone gets such amounts on the basis of travel expenses. Shame on you!

After the hiding behind VMRO-DPMNE did not work (as if they needed their consent) and after the continuous pressure from the public, the parliamentary majority finally approached the amendment of the provisions related to travel expenses. They will drop by one third. Record holder Kamberoski, instead of 12,847 euros for nine months, will take 8,564 euros. Really modest. In 2008, MPs abolished the transport allowance for workers. After the introduction of the so-called concept of gross salary, the transport allowance entered the gross wage for workers, and since then, except in rare cases when the employers organize transportation at their own expense, the workers must pay the cost of transportation to the workplace themselves. And when they get a salary of 12,000 denars, out of those 12,000 denars they have to pay for their transportation. In such a context, how do MPs dare ask for travel allowances, with the paychecks they get each month? Were they elected to Parliament to get rich, or represent the interests of citizens? The reducing the amount of travel costs is just a way to manipulate the public. They will either change the Law on Labor Relations and the workers will be able to return the deprived right to compensation for transportation, or completely abolish their right to travel expenses. Anything else means privileging MPs and officials, and consciously violating the constitutional principle of equality of all citizens before the Constitution and the laws.

Don’t you get enough money?

Don’t you get enough money on the basis of wages, travel costs, allowances and what not, and in the end you demand apanage? As dessert after lunch? On the citizens’ expense? Shame on you!

As with travel costs, and in terms of l-apanage, there are some rules for officials, and others for common people. A functionary who has been in office for two years and received a salary of 60,000 denars – is entitled to apanage of 60,000 denars a month. Since he/she is eligible for l-apanage for one year, he / she will “gene” a total of 720,000 denars. On the other hand, the ordinary citizen who also worked for two years and took an average salary of 23,000 denars, if he/she lost his/her job and only if he/she meets certain conditions, will receive unemployment compensation in the amount of 11,500 denars. Since he/she has the right to receive compensation for two months, he/she will collect a total of 23,000 denars. 720,000 denars for the official, and for the common worker – 23,000 denars. Probably the difference is because it is more difficult for an official to lose office, than for a worker who lost his/her job.

-The functionaries’ apanage and unemployment compensation for ordinary citizens have the same purpose: the one who has lost his/her job to have certain cash to make it easier to survive while unemployed. But, although the goal is the same, the differences in the provisions between l-apanage and monetary compensation are drastic. The five differences between them show a completely different archetype for determining rights, restrictiveness in the case of workers, dispersing with budgetary resources in the case of officials.

First, for a worker who has lost his/her job to be entitled to a financial allowance, according to the Law on Employment and Insurance in Case of Unemployment, he/she must not resign or get fired for his or her incompetence. Or, if he/she was “tricked” by the boss and gets fired allegedly due to his/her incompetence. On the other hand, a functionary who loses his/her job, even when he/she worked irresponsibly, even when, for that reason, he/she was forced to resign or was dismissed – he/she is entitled to l-apanage. He/she loses this right only if he/she is convicted of a criminal act against the state or a criminal act committed through abuse of office.

Second, the worker has the right to a financial compensation in the amount of 50 percent of his/her previous salary, while the official is entitled to 100 percent of the salary. Additionally, this is the third difference, the amount of the employee compensation may not be more than 80 percent of the average net salary (19,080 MKD). Of course, there is no such restriction for l-apanage. And when the official had a salary of 100,000 denars, the l-apanage for him would be 100,000, and not 19,080 denars.

The fourth difference relates to the period for which monetary compensation is paid, as well as l-apanage. For an official to receive apanage for a year, he/she should have served for more than 2 years. If the worker had also worked for more than 2 years, he/she could receive a monetary compensation of only two months, not a year as the officials. In order to be able to receive a financial compensation for a year, the worker must have (recognized) work experience of more than 25 years, which is 12.5 times longer than the one valid for the official.

And, finally, the fifth difference. The cherry on the official’s cake! While exercising the right to l-apanage, he is entitled to a vacation allowance (!?) And at least in the amount of the average monthly salary (!?) Are you aware that a large number of workers, even when they are at work do not get K-15? And that some of them are forced to return the money to their employers? While you, besides l-apanage, get paid vacations? But, go on, rob the people – that is why they elected you, didn’t they?

The author is a political scientist and a member of Levica