Branimir Jovanovic, PhD, civic activist and finance expert, former advisor to ex-Minister of Finance, Dragan Tevdovski, PhD, as one of the speakers at CIVIL’s seminar “Transparency and responsibility in the political processes”, focused on defining responsibility through specific examples of realized and unrealized promises and reforms, and on who bears political responsibility for them and how.
“It is a responsibility to take action and to try to make some changes, and not just to criticize. However, it is also a responsibility to withdraw if you assess that you will not be able to achieve the goal you have set, and to give room to others”, emphasized Jovanovic in his speech at CIVIL’s seminar.
In the first part of his presentation, Jovanovic spoke about the government reforms that have been realized, especially in the area of the economy and social reforms, namely, the minimum wage, reducing the poverty threshold, the problem with the redundant workers, progressive income tax…however, also about those reforms that had the potential to be solved, but because of a series of excuses and political compromises, have remained unrealized.
“I was part of this government, for two years, as an advisor to the Minister of Finance. The question is, why did I enter the Government knowing about all these matters? I did it because I truly thought that, a bit naïve, and hoped that at least some of the measures that were part of SDSM’s program could be realized. I wasn’t a member of SDSM. You probably know that I was one of the founders of the political party Levica, from where I left at the end. Why did I accept? Because there were measures in SDSM’s program, especially in the economic area, which in my opinion were quite good… Nevertheless, when they asked me if I would accept, my position was that I didn’t want to, because one of the reasons was that there would immediately be comments such as “he sold himself, that’s why he protested, he was acting, he was arrested, and now he has found himself a position”. But after I consulted close people of mine, everyone said I should take the position and that it’s irresponsible on my part”, explained Jovanovic at the beginning of his address.
“One of the most significant measures that was realized at the start was the minimum wage of 12.000 denars. Still, I don’t think that there is time for the second part of that measure, 16.000 denars minimum wage until 2020, which is stated in the program of SDSM, to be implemented. The problem with the redundant workers is something that VMRO-DPMNE didn’t want to resolve out of spite, although it cost 500.000 from a budget of three billion. In SDSM’s program it was said that it would be resolved in the first 100 days, and it was realised”, explained Jovanovic.
In the first part of his presentation, Jovanovic reflected also on the progressive tax, as a promise for which the people voted for at the elections, even though the wealthiest people have been and still are opposing the fulfilment of this measure the most.
“Part of the progressive tax that was modified, meant that 18% would apply for the wealthiest 5% of the people. The progressive tax that we managed to introduce was 1%. The threshold eventually came out to be 90.000 denars, although we wanted to make it 60.000 denars and cover 2% of the wealthiest people in the country. But when we tried to do this, everyone opposed saying that programmers would hence leave the country and flee to Germany, Sweden, where there are taxes of 50%, just because we were to introduce an additional rate of 18% for over 1.000 euros. That’s why that rate was raised higher, even though I was personally against that, but I wasn’t the one making the decision, other people in the Government were. The ultimate effect is that you have a promise for a progressive tax that would include the wealthiest 5%, but instead have a realization that includes only 1% of the wealthiest. That is, you are making big concessions to the rich”, said Jovanovic.
As unrealized promises that had been part of the program, Jovanovic, in the first part of his presentation, mentioned the termination of the highest tax base, the progressive property tax and workers’ rights.
“The biggest problem for me in regards to workers’ rights is that you can continuously employ a person without an agreement for permanent employment, for five years. The worker is kept with agreements for short-term employment, given an agreement for three months, and then for six months and so on in a period of 5 years.
The effect of this is that workers live in uncertainty, they don’t know whether they will have a salary after 3 months and they can’t even complain. If you tell such an employee to come to work on a Saturday, the worker won’t say no, because he knows that his agreement won’t be extended and will be left without a job. He will be dismissed in a completely legal manner. In SDSM’s program it says: The agreement for temporary employment will have to be transformed to an agreement for permanent employment after 6 months – a promise from SDSM’s programme, again unfulfilled”, said Jovanovic.
CIVIL in the following days will publish the other parts of the presentation of Branimir Jovanovic, as well as the presentations of the President of the SCPC, Biljana Ivanovska and the Mayor of the Municipality of Veles, Ace Kocevski.
The seminar “Civic Lenses: Transparency and responsibility in the political processes” is part of the project with the same title, financed by National Endowment for Democracy.
in cooperation with Igor K. Ilievski
camera: Dehran Muratov
editing and photo: Biljana Jordanovska
This post is also available in: Macedonian