Thursday, 24 February 2011

Parliamentary Questions in February

On 24 February 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 24 February 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.

Prime Minister Dr Mirko Cvetkovic, Minister of Justice Snezana Malovic, Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning Oliver Dulic, Minister of Telecommunications and Information Society Jasna Matic, Minister of Trade Slobodan Milosavljevic, Minister of Energy and Mining Dr Petar Skundric, Minister of Education Dr Zarko Obradovic and Minister of Infrastructure Milutin Mrkonjic responded to the deputies’ questions.

Deputy Konstantin Arsenovic asked why a group of 60 military pensioners from Montenegro who had begun to receive their pensions in Serbia had their pensions revoked at the beginning of the year. He also asked when and how the debt of 10 billion RSD owed to the military pensioners would be settled.

The Prime Minister promised to provide an answer to these questions within eight days.

Deputy Riza Halimi asked about the justification of keeping the budget items whose funds are intended for the financing of buildings in Serbian settlements so as to prevent the migration of Serbian population. Much more Albanians have migrated in the three municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja, said Halimi explaining it by a difficult economic situation and 70% unemployment rate, non-recognition of diplomas from the Universities of Pristina, Macedonia and Albania and many other reasons.

The Prime Minister said that the issue of budgetary classification would be discussed at the Coordination Body, and the recognition of diplomas would be the subject of the upcoming dialogue between Serbia and Pristina.

Regarding the announced 15% increase in the price of electric power, deputy Srdjan Spasojevic said that it is too much of a burden for the citizens of Serbia since most have not had such high an increase in their income in the past years. He asked that the citizens of Kraljevo be included in the subsidies granted to certain households. He also asked whether the students from the territory of Kraljevo, whose tuition is not paid from the budget, would be exempt from paying tuition like in the case of some faculties.

Prime Minister Cvetkovic said that the increased price of electric power would come into force on 1 April not 1 March which is better for the citizens as the heating season ends then. The price increase would not affect the million and a half families regarded as socially endangered.

Minister of Trade Slobodan Milosavljevic answered deputy Srdjan Spasojevic’s question about the sharp increase in the price of food. He stated that according to the data of the Republic Statistics Office, Serbia is among the cheapest countries in Europe since the prices here are on average 32%lower than in Europe. Still, the Government strives to alleviate the citizens’ position by intervening in the price of electric power and releasing sugar and other goods from the stock reserves onto the market.

Minister of Energy and Mining Petar Skundric said that the decision on the increase in the price of electric power will not apply to households spending less than 350kwh of electric power a month. He reminded the deputies that the citizens who have been paying their electric bills regularly enjoy a 5% discount and that socially endangered households have an additional 35% discount. Responding to deputy Spasojevic’s question, Minister of Education Zarko Obradovic stressed that the faculties have already been asked to accommodate the students for the tuition price they themselves set, in addition to the budget quota financed by the state.

In addition, deputy Spasojevic asked whether the increase in the price of electric power could be lower and suggested that it does not apply to the citizens of Kraljevo. He asked the Minister of Justice when the rehabilitation of the building of the basic and higher court in Kraljevo would be completed and she promised to answer the question.

Prime Minister Cvetkovic said that the increase in the price of electric power is a necessity as EPS, as the biggest investor in the country, requires further investment into development and modernisation, and strengthening capacities also means opening up of new jobs.

Deputy Ivan Andric asked whether the practice of having political parties appoint people to public companies, shareholders societies and state-owned companies would be abandoned after the reconstruction of the Government. He restated that the introduction of public competitions for the posts of director and chairmen of the board of directors of these companies is something the IMF requires from Serbia and a prerequisite for the final ratification of the SAA.

Prime Minister Cvetkovic responded that it is the reconstruction of the Government and not public companies that are debated. Ivan Andric voiced the opinion of the Liberal-Democratic Party that the party directors of public companies, which make up 50% of the economy, are the biggest problem for the society and the economy. He asked when the laws on public and communal companies and business associations would be amended.

Deputy Nenad Popovic asked the Prime Minister whether the salaries in “Telekom” were increased by 10% in January at the Government’s proposal despite the objections of the company’s management. The Prime Minister said that they were.

Deputy Petar Jojic pointed out that the illegal privatisation of Pancevo Nitrate Plant has incurred damages not only against the employees, but against the town of Pancevo and the whole state and asked what the Government would do in way of compensation and whether anyone is prosecuted for it. He requested data on how much state-owned agricultural land had been leased by each municipality, to whom and at what price.

Prime Minister Cvetkovic agreed that the privatisation of the Nitrate Plant had been unsuccessful as its buyers had immediately sold part of it which is why the sale contract was broken. A damages trial is being processed in Serbian courts, and another case is tried before the international arbitration court in Washington, said the Prime Minister adding that the Government would do its best to make sure the trials are resolved in Serbia’s favour.

Saying that the Nitrate Plant management is implementing measures aimed at improving the production process and preventing malversation, Petar Jojic proposed that the Government assist the strategically important industry to operate at full capacity.

Deputy Aleksandar Jugovic asked if after the reconstruction of the Government the many agencies and directorates, the “refuge of party cadre” would still be necessary. Prime Minister Cvetkovic responded that an analysis of certain state agencies is currently underway which would provide grounds for the abolition or affiliation of some of them.

Deputy Zlata Djeric asked the Minister of Agriculture why farmers in the south of the country who have registered agricultural households are not eligible for the ministry’s subsidies as a type of state help. She also asked when those arrested during the Belgrade Pride Parade will be released. Pointing out that, according to many analyses, the health care sector is the most corrupt in the state, she asked whether the former Minister of Health who had headed the sector for the past 10 years would be held responsible for it.

Minister Malovic said she was sure the court would try the cases against the persons protesting against the Pride Parade efficiently, in line with the Criminal Procedure Code.

Deputy Bojan Djuric also had a question about the functioning of public companies and reaffirmed that the directors of public companies should be elected exclusively in a public competition. He asked how high the guarantees allocated from the budget to cover the debts of public companies are.

Deputy Vladimir Milentijevic asked about the topics for the talks between Belgrade and Pristina.

Prime Minister Cvetkovic responded that the negotiations will probably start in March and that Serbia is open for negotiations on any topic including the status of Kosovo-Metohija. He stressed that Serbia has been ready for the negotiations for the past two months, the composition of the negotiating team is established and is waiting for the other side. The Prime Minister said that the easier topics would be debated first.

Commenting the response, deputy Vladimir Milentijevic said that the beginning of the negotiations depends on Pristina’s will and by accepting EULEX, amending the Security Council Resolution and harmonising it with the EU, as well as by other acts and the announcement of the negotiations, the Government is deceiving the Serbian public.

Deputy Igor Mirovic asked whether, after the EU Council of Ministers decides on accepting Serbia’s EU candidacy, Serbia would have to accept decisions politically and economically detrimental to the country. Prime Minister Cvetkovic said that Serbia wants to join the European Union which is economically justified and worthwhile, stressing that a new isolation and separation from Europe would be economically very unfavorable for Serbia

Deputy Igor Mirovic was dissatisfied with the answer stating that there is no analysis on what Serbia would gain by joining the EU and whether Serbian citizens would live better after it. “We are for integration, but a real integration, with our real allies in the economic, political and any other sense”, said Mirovic.

Deputy Gorica Mojovic asked the Minister of Culture when the National Library of Serbia will start work, what stage of reconstruction the National Museums is currently in and whether funds have been secured to complete the work on the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The Prime Minister said that the answers to these questions will be forwarded in a written form.

Deputy Vesna Pesic asked the Minister of Justice about the legal grounds for the coalition agreements, and Minister Malovic said that it is not a legal document, but an agreement between parties.

Deputy Milica Vojic-Markovic asked how decisions were made in the Government and who makes them, listing the example of the former Minister of Economy and Regional Development Dinkic illegally directing the funds intended for the construction of the “Gorenje” factory into Zajecar. Minister of Trade Slobodan Milosavljevic said that the decisions are made by the Government at the proposal of the ministry competent for the topics on the agenda.

Deputy Nenad Prokic asked whether there was a long-term development strategy for Belgrade Airport and if it is known to the Government and the public. Minister of Infrastructure Milutin Mrkonjic answered the question saying that such a strategy exists by 2027 and the project is financed by the EU.

Deputy Dobroslav Prelic pointed out the agrarian problems and asked why the Government does nothing in that area. Minister of Trade Slobodan Milosavljevic said that Serbia needs to change its agrarian policy and increase the stimulus for it which makes it all the more important to gain candidacy status by the end of the year and access to the European agricultural development funds.

Deputy Milan Dimitrijevic pointed out the violation of the Law on Chambers of Medical Workers and asked how it was possible that the Ministry of Health is breaking the law passed by the National Assembly.

The response to the question will be forwarded in writing.

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