Thursday, 28 April 2011

Parliamentary Questions

On 28 April 2011, in line with article 205 paragraph 1 of the National Assembly Rules of Procedure, the deputies posed various questions to the Government of the Republic of Serbia.

On 28 April 2011, in line with article 205 paragraph 1 of the National Assembly Rules of Procedure, the deputies posed various questions to the Government of the Republic of Serbia.

Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic, Minister of Economy and Regional Development Nebojsa Ciric, Minister of Defence Dragan Sutanovac, Minister of Infrastructure and Energy Milutin Mrkonjic, Minister of Agriculture, Trade, Forestry and Water Management Dusan Petrovic, Minister of Health Zoran Stankovic and Minister of Justice Snezana Malovic, responded to the deputies’ questions.

Deputies Riza Halimi, Sinisa Stamenkovic, Velimir Ilic, Natasa Micic, Slobodan Samardzic, Jorgovanka Tabakovic, Marina Toman, Srdjan Nikolic, Konstantin Arsenovic, Bajram Omeragic, Miroslav Markicevic, Marija Bugarcic, Donka Banovic, Zoran Antic and Gordana Paunovic-Milosavljevic asked the questions.

Deputy Riza Halimi reminded all present that on 9 April 2009 the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted a Decision on the Organisation of the Coordinating Body for Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja which should ensure the accomplishment of the goals set out in the Government’s 2001 programme. The deputy asked what the Government would do to implement the decision in practice as it has been two years since its adoption.

Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic stated that since 2000 an additional 50 to 60 million EUR of extra-budgetary funds have been invested into the municipalities within the purview of the Coordinating Body to resolve the infrastructural and other problems. Djelic noted that the funds were not sufficient, but the action showed that the Republic of Serbia paid special attention to that part of the country. He stressed that in the past 10 years specific efforts were made to include a higher number of Serbian citizens of Albanian ethnicity into state services. The available data show that 10 years ago Serbian police employed two to three members of the Albanian ethnic minority, while now there are about 300.

Deputy Sinisa Stamenkovic asked when and under what circumstances the Government would halt the demographic exodus and economic decline of eastern Serbia and when it would ensure a uniform development of the country. He asked the Minister of Infrastructure and Energy when and under what circumstances the Government would commit itself and publish the ordinance on public tender or concession for a commercial line on the Danube international waterway from Novi Sad via Belgrade to Djerdap i.e. Kladovo. The deputy asked the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning what measures it employed to counter the damage done by continuous air, water and soil pollution, pollution of the flora and fauna, people and animals on the territories of the municipalities of Golubac and Veliko Gradiste coming for years from Romania. Stamenkovic asked when the roads on route Zajecar-Negotin, as well as in the villages in the municipalities of Pozarevac, Veliko Gradiste, Golubac, Donji Milanovac, Tekija and Kladovo would be repaired.

Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic stated that the Republic of Serbia was selected to coordinate the Danube strategy in two domains. The first domain is infrastructure where it will coordinate the issue of road, rail and air transport along with Slovenia, while Romania and Austria will coordinate the Danube itself as a waterway. The second domain, knowledge economy, will be coordinated by the Novi Sad University Rector along with his Slovak colleague. Djelic informed all present that a diplomatic dialogue was open with Romania about the pollution coming from it.

Minister of Economy and Regional Development Nebojsa Ciric added that the Government had declared some of the places in eastern Serbia priorities where the Ministry of Economy and accession and pre-accession funds should be invested into developing tourism in these areas thus raising the citizens’ living standard. In addition, the Government adopted a plan making the development of a semi-highway network such as the semi-highway network from Paracin to Zajecar one of the priorities in the upcoming period.

Deputy Velimir Ilic wanted to know why the election of the new Government and adoption of the Law on Ministries was not followed by a budget rebalance. Ilic addressed the Minister of Economy and Regional Development noting that the sale of Telekom should not go through after the failed tender.

Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic explained that the convenience and possibility opened by the Law on the Budget System to pass an amount of budgetary funds through budget reserves and re-form a new budget fund was employed. That is the way the ministries function.

Deputy Natasa Micic asked about the stage of the criminal charges filed last November relating to the investigation into the political background of the assassination of Prime Minister Djindjic. Citing the Government’s recent decision to use budgetary funds to finance the connection of seven years of service for the employees of public enterprises, Micic asked whether the Government had ever made a decision in favour of the private sector or intended to protect only the public sector.

Minister of Economy and Regional Development Nebojsa Ciric explained that the connection of the years of service implemented by the Government relates to public or state-owned enterprises. Ciric agreed with the deputy’s opinion that the Government should and must support the private sector as well. He stressed that the Government should care about the private and public sector equally. He announced that the Government was to adopt a measure which would apply solely on the private sector – a stimulating employment programme under which private firms employing new staff would pay half the taxes and contributions for their new employees.

Deputy Slobodan Samardzic said he was perplexed by the joint statement and position from the three-way meeting between Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia in Karadordjevo claiming that the three states support sovereignty and territorial integrity, considering that Turkey had acknowledged the independence of Kosovo. He said that from the statement one cannot tell whether Turkey was ready to withdraw its recognition of Kosovo-Metohija or Serbia was prepared to withdraw its position that Kosovo-Metohija was part of Serbia’s territorial integrity. Samardzic requested an interpretation of the statement.

Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic explained that the three-way meeting was an informal gathering, meaning that it did not result in any official activities and, as, according to the participants, many such meetings, helped to cast different views on the perspectives and resolve some problems.

Deputy Jorgovanka Tabakovic asked whether it was possible to get a list of all the privatisations and bankruptcy proceedings since the creation of the Privatisation Agency specifying who was the Agency director during the sales or bankruptcy proceedings and where the former Privatisation Agency directors were at the moment. Tabakovic also asked how it was possible that the multitude of interested potential buyers of Telekom resulted in only one bid for an extremely low price for the sale of 51% of the capital.

As regards the questions relating to the Privatisation Agency, Minister of Economy and Regional Development Nebojsa Ciric said that he would personally forward the requested list to the deputy. As regards Telekom, the whole Government’s position is that Telekom would not be privatised i.e. sold for less than 1.4 billion EUR.

Deputy Marina Toman asked about the criteria employed by the authorities in gaining permission to construct an industrial waste recycling centre for dangerous materials and secondary raw materials collection station in the vicinity of housing facilities in Kovacica.

Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic responded that the deputy would be duly informed on everything in writing.

Deputy Srdjan Nikolic was interested in the effect of limiting the top price of bread and banning the export of wheat and what the Government and the competent ministry were doing to control the quality of agricultural produce.

Minister of Agriculture, Trade, Forestry and Water Management Dusan Petrovic reminded that the Government had adopted a written decree limiting the top retail price of “Sava” bread at 54.22 RSD. Petrovic explained that the decree did not jeopardize the economic competition in any way, neither regarding the article nor the baking industry as a whole, as the prices of all the other types of bread are freely formulated.

Deputy Konstantin Arsenovic asked when the issue of regular pension payments for the 47 Montenegrin military retirees would be solved.

Minister of Defence Dragan Sutanovac reminded that the issue had been launched as far back as 2009. Most of them had reached retirement age in Montenegro and received Montenegrin pensions however Montenegro passed a law stipulating that the change of residence effects the loss of the right to pension. Having been informed that there were people who had lost that right, the Ministry formed a legal team and offered the people all necessary legal assistance to file charges before the International Court in Strasbourg for the payment of damages incurred and their pensions. However, since the pension system in Serbia is in a much better condition than in Montenegro they decided not to file charges against Montenegro but to launch initiatives appealing for humanity so as to enable the people to gain pension rights in Serbia. At the time, the whole initiative was launched by the Ministry of labour and Sutanovac added that the Ministry of Defence would try to assist the Ministry of Labour to find the funds for these pensions.

Deputy Bajram Omeragic asked whether the Government had drafted an action plan for the economic development of Sandzak, about the construction phase of the Aleksandrovac-Brus-Tutin-Novi Pazar pipeline and the construction phase of the Raska-Novi Pazar railway. The fourth question was about the construction of the Belgrade-Southern Adriatic highway and construction of Novi Pazar-Tutin-Sjenica-Ljinovici regional road. Omeragic asked the Minister of Health whether the opening of a public health institute in Novi Pazar was planned. He asked the Ministry of Education why a new school administration for the six Sandzak municipalities was not being founded in Novi Pazar.

Minister of Infrastructure and Energy Milutin Mrkonjic responded that the construction of Corridor 11 was going according to the planned dynamics. The construction of the 12.5 km section between Ub and Lajkovac was currently underway and the deadline for its completion was 1 April of next year. So far, about 300 million RSD has been invested into the road from Tutin via Pazar to Sjenica and surrounding roads. A Turkish loan should be secured for the route. The Pazar by-pass has gone into the completion programme this year. As regards energy production, both projects are planned to be realised within the next year. At the same time there a lot of interested parties for the Power Plant in Stavalj.

Minister of Health Zoran Stankovic stressed that the proposal to found a public health institute would be debated as soon as it was made.

Deputy Miroslav Markicevic asked, as there has been more than 30 days since its reconstruction, what had the Government has done in that period to improve the citizens’ standard.

Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic stressed that the Republic of Serbia had maintained stability throughout the crisis in the region and Europe. Djelic stressed that three days after the reconstruction of the Government, the leading rating agency Standard Impur raised Serbia’s rating due to its preservation of the political and economic stability and the fact that its investment perspectives are better than for the neighbouring countries. He reminded that a new Social Security Law recently came into force securing budget-funded social benefits for the almost 600,000 citizens.

Deputy Marija Bugarcic asked whether the Government would subsidise the export of raspberries.

Minister of Agriculture, Trade, Forestry and Water Management Dusan Petrovic reminded that the price of raspberries was very high last year, but that Serbia depended on the production of raspberries in Poland and Chile. He believes that the Ministry and Government follow the price of raspberries carefully and will do all in their power to protect the interest of raspberry producers.

Deputy Donka Banovic asked why Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic never attends these sittings. The reason for her question is the fact that the Government i.e. the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on 19 April requesting that the Security Council appoint a rapporteur for the case of trafficking in human organs in Kosovo-Metohija. The deputy wanted to know what the Government was doing to ensure the support of the Security Council member states to have the investigation into the crimes in Kosovo be carried out under the UN, as well as why the investigation should be under the UN.

Minister of Justice Snezana Malovic responded that if we wanted to find out the truth we first needed to protect the witnesses. Second, the case involves the territories of different countries as well as Kosovo-Metohija and the territory of Albania where camps were discovered and therefore the conclusion is that such an investigation and case would best be processed by an ad hoc court in the integration and charge of the UN Security Council. Malovic added that the deputy would receive part of the answer in writing.

Deputy Zoran Antic asked a question about the new Road Safety Law and its application in practice, and who gave the order on the decision on the new license plates.

Minister of Infrastructure and Energy Milutin Mrkonjic reminded all present that the Law was adopted in cooperation with the ministries of interior and infrastructure and energy and the results of the Law have already proved positive. Mrkonjic added that the Ministry of Interior is fully competent to answer the questions related to the new license plates and these questions will be forwarded to Minister Dacic.

Deputy Gordana Paunovic-Milosavljevic asked several questions regarding Serbia’s health care system, as well as the relationship between the Serbian health care system and health care service beneficiaries.

Minister of Health Zoran Stankovic confirmed that the there were rabies vaccines but in the Kursumlija case the epidemiologist in charge did not know the correct procedure to procure the vaccine. The Minister added that in a month and a half he had visited many health care centres in Serbia to learn about the working conditions of the healthcare workers and concluded that the situation, in view of the funds allocated for health care, it is much better than many think. In addition, Minister Stankovic stressed that one should distinguish between the Ministry of Health and the Republic Health Insurance Institute.

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