Saturday, August 18, 2007

Businesses of government ally - bleakest event in July

The involvement of a competent minister to add a company of his party chief to a public project - multipurpose project hydrosystem Zletovica - is the bleakest event in July.

The event was pinpointed by 12 chief editors of national media in Macedonia in the course of monthly survey Light-Bleak, run by independence news agency Makfax and NGO Transparency - Zero Corruption.

Editors-in-chief of 16 local media took part in the opinion poll. The toll-free telephone number, set by the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (ZNM) to report corruptive practices among journalists, tops the list of light events in the fight against corruption along with the decision of the Health Insurance Fund to repay a 26 million euro debt. These two events garnered seven votes reach as most positive events in combating corruption in July.

Government's indolence over businesses of governing coalition ally was singled out by 12 of 16 chief editors. The media singled out two events linked to the same coalition ally, indicating conflict of interests, abuse of power and possible corruption but with no appropriate response by the authorities.

The first case indicates a suspicious involvement of a competent minister to ensure that a company owned by a party chief be added to Zletovica hydropower project. The second case indicates abuse of power in the municipality of Kratovo, where Sileks plant used the drinking water thus leaving much of rural areas without water.

Apparent inaction of the authorities in both cases indicates subtle corruption i.e. misuse of power and influence for unlawful gains.

Second on the list of bleak events in July are the judiciary and prosecutors in the Makedonija Turist case and the former agriculture minister Sadula Duraku, with two votes each.

Seven years after the initial criminal charges against Makedonija Turist company, filed by former employees - shareholders, a Skopje's court has decided to open a trial. The trial was launched upon an intervention of justice minister.

State Auditor uncovered millions of denars damage caused to state budget in terms of spending public money outside legal procedures by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy during the tenure of former minister Sadula Duraku.

In the list of light events, the toll-free telephone number 080054321 to report corrupt practices of journalists, which was set up upon an initiative of the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (ZNM), won seven votes.

The same number of votes went to Health Insurance Fund, whose executives repaid a 26 million euro debt. The repayment means that the Fund has no debts to wholesale companies and health workers.

The initiative of the Public Revenues Office to train 139 inspectors to fight financial crime was ranked third on the list of light events. The training was conducted in co-operation with the Police Academy. The move received two votes.

The Light-Bleak survey, which includes respondents - chief editors of national media in Macedonia, runs from December 2004 as part of the fight against corruption.

Poll respondents include TV channels: A1, Alsat-M, Kanal 5, Sitel, Telma; daily newspapers Biznis, Vecer, Vest, Vreme, Dnevnik, Lajm, Utrinski Vesnik, online newspaper Lobi; weekly newspapers Globus, Kapital and Fokus.

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