Requirements for abolishing apanages at any level for any position, life-long pensions for former presidents, cash and other allowances for all governing boards, drastic reduction in officials’ travel expenses, more precisely the provision of funds in the amount of public transportation fare… These requirements will probably be difficult to achieve, but they are a good indicator that the civil sector is disgusted with the privileges of politicians. It seems that this poor country has existed for three decades just to please policy makers. That is why everyone wants to be the one making it. The fact that they are not very successful does not stop them from enjoying the benefits while in office, and then after they step down. Because the state, or the laws they passed themselves, made sure they were taken care of even when they are not the ones calling the shots anymore.
Public outrage, although justified, can sometimes be irrational. MPs are always the first to get hit. Most citizens perceive them only as “hand-raisers”, believing that they blindly follow the directives of the headquarters, not fighting for the interests of those who have elected them. The non-inventive polemics in Parliament, the unprofessionalism, ignorance, and the ghetto manners of some of them probably complement the general picture. And once the average Macedonian realizes how much they are paid for “not doing their jobs”, and even for the thousands of euros they are entitled to for travel expenses, there is no way for that outrage to be diverted elsewhere.
However, the members of parliament are the ones making the laws, and they are, in a way, the most important instrument in democracy, because the whole mood in the society depends on what they vote for.
One of their tasks is to keep in touch with their constituents on a regular basis. Those of them based in other cities in the country are handicapped because they cannot spend more time with their fellow citizens and hear about their problems because of their duties in Skopje. Therefore, the state must provide them with a way and time to amortize their absence.
In that direction, among other things, the state has provided funds for covering gas and toll costs if traveling from home to their jobs. Certainly, the savvy Macedonian MPs have found a way to cheat the state, so the road from Strumica to Skopje and back can cost as much as a plane ticket to some of the European capitals. Then legislative changes were made that cut spending payments by one-third. This didn’t do the trick either, MPs still got paid a lot of money in expenses. In the end, the state decided to pay them 400 euros a month for renting an apartment in Skopje just to avoid traveling and charging large amounts for a ride home. This way, everything would be cheaper.
But the state did not think that there would be a cure for this too, so now the lawmakers who decided to stay in Skopje thought of a way to rent the apartments of their relatives.
And so we go round in circles yet again. Because these people really need to be in their communities, with their constituents, as well as with their families. Their excuses that driving by themselves is a potential risk, and vehicle amortization is an additional expense, are also valid. Can they be home at least on weekends when they are away for the entire week?
MPs have their jobs thanks to the fact that we voted for them. They are our choice. And they know this and appreciate it. Their task is extremely responsible. They left their previous jobs to serve the country. The party does not come first for them. They work honestly and conscientiously for the good of the citizens. If that were the case, probably no one would’ve cared about rents and travel expenses.