Thursday, February 05, 2009

Wages long overdue, banks waive late payment fees

Commercial banks in Macedonia will earn millions of denars from daily interest charge on late payment amid imbroglio caused by Public Revenue Office's master software collapse while computing the gross wages.

About 600.000 working people in Macedonia owed averagely 1.788 euros to banks till November 2008. Simple calculation shows that banks will earn at least 10.000 euros per day through charging daily interest on late payment of installments provided that the fixed penalty for late payment was set at 1 denar a day, Nova Makedonija daily said.

Banks charge 19.5% interest rate on late payment on annual basis.

In the headline "Banks don't care about UJP problem", the local daily Utrinski Vesnik says "the citizens will pay high price for state's error prompted by collapse of the software of Public Revenue Office (UJP)". The working people cannot collect their monthly wage due to software collapse.

Who will pay the price given the fact that bankers don't care whether the citizens receive their wages in due time. Moreover, banks don't care about the reason why the citizens have been put in such a situation although some companies have no financial worries, Utrinski Vesnik said.

Editorial commentary in Dnevnik daily raises the issue of accountability. The relevant authorities should be held accountable for the collapse of the so-called gross wage concept. In normal countries, such omissions result in resignations by those responsible.

Those who ignore the responsibility probably want to confirm that our country is not among normal countries, Dnevnik daily said.

Ljube Boskovski’s nomination returned for correction

Macedonia’s State Electoral Commission has returned the nomination of the independent presidential candidate Ljube Boskovski for a correction, the Macedonian Nova Makedonija daily writes.
The mover of the nomination has to determine whose initials will be put down on the nomination – Boskovski’s or subscriber’s. The mistake has to be corrected immediately or within 48 hours after the nomination was submitted.

Headscarved Pupil Pushes Limits In Macedonia

The case of a teenage girl who wants to wear her headscarf to school is creating waves in Macedonia, with educational authorities, local officials and teachers locked in a tug-of-war over religous freedom and the right to education.

The girl, who attends a high school in the western Macedonian town of Tetovo, a predominantly ethnic Albanian area, wanted to wear her head scarf over her school uniform. After several warnings, the head master Ljatif Ismaili banned her from class until she removes the headscarf during school hours.

The girl then complained to Tetovo mayor Hazbi Lika, who used his authority to sack Ismaili

But once the State Education Inspectorate reviewed the case, it ordered that Ismaili be reinstated immediately to his post, saying he was right to act in accordance with school regulations, passed by the parents' association, banning religious and national marks inside school building.

“If the mayor does not comply, we will take away his competence (to appoint and fire headmasters)” the head of the Inspectorate, Robert Georgiev, told local Vreme daily on Wednesday.

Macedonia's Tetovo area was the site of an uprising by the Albanian minority in 2001, and ethnic relations are still fragile. Almost all ethnic Macedonians are Orthodox Christians, and the 25-percent Albanian population is mostly Muslim, generally more devout than the highly secular Albanians in Kosovo and Albania proper.

The Inspectorate conceded that the law does not specifically prohibit wearing religious marks in schools. However, it added, since the pupils in that particular school are from different ethnicities and religious denominations, the headmaster thought that such an overt display of faith would harm the cohesion of the school, so he acted according to the statute that the parents themselves approved.

Commenting on the Inspectorate's decision, the head of the sector for religious education of Macedonia's Islamic Community, Jakup Selimovski, disagreed, arguing that the schools regulations cannot overrule the state law on freedom of religion and the right to education.

“The scarf is a religious mark," Selimovski said. "A (Muslim) woman is obliged to cover her head and no one should prohibit a Muslim girl from education because of this.”

Macedonia's constitution sets the country as secular, strictly separating church and state.
The conservative VMRO DPMNE government introduced religious education in primary schools last years, creating controversy and attracting criticism by opposition parties and several local NGO’s.

The right of Muslim women to wear headscarves is a hot topic in many European countries with minority or immigrant Muslim populations, as well as in Turkey, where the state is secular but most of the population is devoutly Muslim. France for example insists on secularity and bans wearing headscarves in state institutions.

Bakoyannis: Skopje's provocative stance undermines confidence

Greece is committed to finding an all-win solution, but unfortunately the provocative attitude of Macedonia hinders creation of a climate of mutual confidence, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said.

She made the statement in an interview for Monday edition of Politika daily.

According to Bakoyannis, such an attitude makes the chances for a timely UN-brokered solution to the name issue rather obscure.

"I would like to stress once again that a mutually acceptable solution will bring benefit to FYROM (Macedonia) and will also strengthen regional stability in Southeastern Europe, and at the same time it will boost the country's EU prospects," Bakoyannis said.

Bakoyannis, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, arrived in Belgrade today, on her first trip to Serbia since Greece assumed the OSCE presidency.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Macedonia with record trade deficit in 2008

The amount of Macedonia’s export for 208 is USD 2.87 billion and the export- USD 6.85 billion, Macedonian Dnevniknewspaper informs. That means the country ended 2008 with record trade deficit at the amount of 2.87 billion, which is with billion more than in 2007.
The reason for the record deficit is the expensive import of energy carries, edition informs.

Every third in Macedonia looks for job

Every third person fit for work in Macedonia is unemployed, the Macedonian Spic daily writes.
The Employment Agency says 270,000 people in Macedonia are looking for a job. Economists warn that in 2009 unemployment rate will jump. At the end of the last year 340,000 people were registered in the Agency. 20% of them were registered to use health insurance.

New 162 mumps cases registered in a day

New 162 mumps cases have been registered yesterday, including 34 in Radovis, 29 in Prilep, 238 in Stip, 16 in Skopje, 14 in Tetovo , 9 in Kavadarci and 9 in Bitola.

The total number of registered cases with Monday inclusive climbed to 1.787, the State Healthcare Protection Agency announced today.

Majority of mumps patients are from Skopje - 381, followed by Kavadarci and Prilep.

A nation-wide action of extraordinary mumps vaccination has begun today

Macedonia Name Deal Not Close - Greece

Athens is committed to finding a win-win way out in the row with Skopje over the name 'Macedonia', but Skopje’s provocative attitude is dimming chances of a UN-sponsored solution, Greece's Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said on Monday in Belgrade.

Greece and Macedonia are due to attend a fresh round of UN sponsored talks over their 18-year dispute in New York in mid-February, but analysts say prospects of a deal are slim as both sides are locked in their positions and also battling it out at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Bakoyannis noted that Athens felt provoked by the government in Skopje renaming the country’s main highway to “Alexander of Macedon” after the ancient conqueror claimed by both countries. She said such moves inhibit the creation of a climate of mutual confidence.

"I would like to stress once again that a mutually acceptable solution will bring benefit to the Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia," she said using Macedonia’s provisional name in the United Nations, "and will also strengthen regional stability in southeastern Europe, and at the same time it will boost the country's EU prospects," Bakoyannis told Belgrade daily Politika.

Altough never near cordial, relations between the two states sank to a new low last April, when Greece blocked Macedonia's NATO invitation because of the dispute. Greece says the use of the name implies territorial claims over its own northern province called Macedonia. In retaliation, Macedonia sued Greece in the ICJ arguing that Athens broke its pledge in a UN-sponsored Interim Accord regulating bilateral ties.

Bakoyannis stopped in Serbia during a Balkan tour as part of Greece assuming the presidency of the Organization for Stability and Cooperation in Europe.


A1, Kanal 5, Alsat, Sitel, and Tetovo TV house Art will be charged with misdemeanor for presenting presidential candidates before the start of the election campaign, Broadcasting Council Chairman Zoran Stefanovski informed on Sunday. These TV houses will be fined between 3,000 and 5,000 euros for breaching the Election Code and the Book of Regulations on media representation during election campaigns. The managers and the editors-in-chief of these TV houses do not agree with the new regulations on media representation, assessing them as a form of censorship.

“I hope that these offenses were not intentional and that they were the result of lack of information by the editors-in-chief,” Stefanovski stressed.

No talks for Macedonian EU membership during the Czech EU Presidency

Talks for Macedonian EU membership would be reopened during the Czech EU Presidency, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Tomash Poyar said, cited by Makfax.
In his words the Czech Republic would welcome eventual reopening of the talks with Skopje but that wouldn’t be agreed and is not included in the EU strategy. According to Tomash Poyar the EU would watch closely the coming presidential and local elections in Macedonia not only because of the results but also over the way they would be held.

EU keeps silence about erasing Macedonian language

EU council relied on the temporary agreement between Macedonia and Greece to name the country, Macedonian Utrinski vesnik informs.
“We name the country in accordance to the temporary agreement between Macedonia and Greece from 1995, which is still in force. We support and hope the name dispute will be solved soon in the frames of the negotiations in UN,” Secretary-General of the Council of the EU and High Representative of the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana cabinet press office informs.
They did not say why the official language of Macedonia, international code and the name of the nation is “FYROMized”

Government in Macedonia predetermines national identity: president

The government on Macedonia use cheep populism, media manipulations and violations with patriotic feelings of the citizens to realize a systematic operation. They do don use it for saving but for predetermining of national movement and identity, Macedonian President, Branko Crvenovski, said in the frames of the conference entitled “Macedonia- challenges and perspectives,” Macedonia Dnevniknewspaper informs.
“Whole historical periods, at which our national existence is based on, are dropped and ignored. WE can be proud with it before the whole world. Everything has been connected only to one part of the history- ancient Macedonia,” Crvenovski pointed.

Dangerous odyssey

Government in Macedonia undermines, deliberately or not, their own very important projects and help Geek ones. The time when Greeks will finish the capital projects is not that far. They will become leader of the region and Macedonia will remain with its cheep mythological populism,” Mersel Biliani writes in author’s article Saturday, Macedonian Dnevnik newspaper informs.
“This government has all the chances to enter the history as catastrophic due to the fact that the country suffers historical defeats, which breaks its main branches. The first one broke when the government misses the chance Macedonia to become NATO member state,” author writes in the article entitled “Dangerous odyssey”.

EBRD cuts Macedonia's growth forecast

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said growth in Macedonia is unlikely to exceed three percent this year.

This marks 1.7 percent fall compared to last November's forecast, when EBRD predicted 4.7 percent growth in Macedonia this year.

According to the statement released Tuesday, the bank slashed its growth forecasts for 30 countries receiving investments from EBRD to 0.1 percent for 2009. The November forecast was 2.5 percent.

As to the EBRD region, the estimated 2008 growth of 6.3 percent is now reduced to 4.8 percent.

Southeastern Europe expected to show growth of 1.9 percent, 1.5 down from November's predictions.

Growth forecast slash applies to all countries in the region.

According to EBRD's estimates Albania's growth will stand at 4 instead of the previously forecasted 5 percent, while Bosnia-Herzegovina will mark 1.5-percent growth, 3 percent down from last November's prediction.

Forecasts for the other region's countries are as follows. Bulgaria: 2.0 percent (1.8 percent down); Montenegro 3.0 percent (2.0 percent down) Serbia 2.0 percent (1 percent down).

EBRD's report said the deterioration in the overall forecasts is mainly due to the extent of the global financial downturn and accelerated economic slowdown in the region's countries in the last months of 2008. /end/ nv

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Macedonia Industrial Output Drops

Statistical data shows the world economic crisis is ruining Macedonia’s heavy industry, the backbone of its economy, while businessman fear the worst is yet to come. Macedonia's Statistics Office said industrial output dropped 10 percent in December 2008 compared with the same month in 2007. The largest drop in production of 60 percent was recorded in the metal industry, a sector that contributes over 40 percent of the country’s annual exports.

The latest Statistics Office report is pessimistic about the short-term economic outlook, conveying the worries of business leaders that they could face a sharp drop in demand and very low prices on the market. Some of the factories have already laid off workers.

The economic downturn led the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development this week to revise its forecasts for the whole South Eastern Europe region, now expected to post annual growth of 1.9 percent, some 1.5 percentage points less then the projection made by the bank in November. The projected economic growth of Macedonia is now wound back to 3 percent from 4.7 in November.

Despite the grim projections, Macedonia's Finance Minister Trajko Slaveski said there is no need for the country to revise its growth forecast yet, set by the 2009 budget at a relatively high 5.5 percent.
In 2008, the country posted 5.7 percent of growth.

“We are at the beginning of the year and it is too early for any conclusions yet”, Slaveski told local VREME daily.

Macedonians bought record number of cars in 2008

17.744 new motor vehicles were sold in Macedonia in 2008 and compared to 2007, when 13.973 cars were sold, indicates the sale of cars last year increased by 27,32%.

According to the Group of Vehicle Importers within the Association of Chambers of Commerce, the figures show a record sale of new motor vehicles since Macedonia gained independence.

- The increase in car sales is a result of the stable economic policy taking place in Macedonia in the past two years, as well as of the increased competitiveness of conditions for crediting and leasing, said Group's president Zlatko Kalenikov.

The sale of cars rose in early 2008 and began to slide in the following months due to the consequences of the global financial crisis.

According to statistics, about 51% of the vehicles were bought in cash and 49,3% were sold on credit and leasing

Macedonia's parliament endorsed 262 laws, only 16 MPs attend session regularly

Since the constitution of the current Macedonian Parliament in 2008, the incumbent lawmakers held 81 session adopting 262 laws.

As little as 16 MPs had been present at all sessions, and 14 have never took the floor for a discussion, showed the results of the study conducted by the civic association MOST, which were published today in the report entitled "My Representative".

Jani Makraduli tops the list of the most active MPs with 117 discussions and 68 retorts, whereas MP Cvetanka Ivanova is ranked first in terms of the number of procedural interventions (53).

Hisen Xhemaili holds the first place in terms of unjustified absences from the sessions, whereas Arben Xhaferi and Menduh Thaci are the deputies with the most justified absences.

MOST's public opinion survey conducted in early January, showed that majority of citizens (38.2%) rarely watch the parliamentary sessions, 24% said they never watched them, 14.1% said they followed the lawmakers' activities on a regular basis, while 13.3% said they watched live broadcasts of the legislature home sessions at least two times a week.

The average grade on the parliament's activities given by the citizens, is 2.43.

Most of the respondents (42.1 %) said the parliament is fully dependant from the government in the decision-making process, 25.6% said the dependence is only partial, and 8.6% believe the lawmakers make their decision independently of the government.

According to 60.5% of those polled, Macedonian deputies are not fulfilling their duties properly, while 76.3% said they never had a meeting with a deputy from their electoral unit.