Thursday, 31 March 2011

Parliamentary Questions in March

On 31 March 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 31 March 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 Justice Snezana Malovic, Minister of Agriculture, Trade, Forestry and Water Management Dusan Petrovic, Minister of Economy and Regional Development Nebojsa Ciric, Minister of Education and Science Zarko Obradovic and Minister of Culture, Information and Information Society Predrag Markovic, responded to the deputies’ questions.

At the beginning of the proceedings, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Gordana Comic greeted Finnish President Tarja Kaarina Halonen and the members of the Finnish delegation present at the gallery of the Great Hall, on the behalf of the deputies and herself.

Deputy Riza Halimi asked whether the Government stood behind the statements of the Minister of Human and Minority Rights, Public Administration and Local Self-Government that the state would not acknowledge the diplomas earned at the University of Pristina and if these statements prejudiced the results of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. Minister of Education and Science Zarko Obradovic said that the position of the Republic of Serbia on Pristina University diplomas is common knowledge. In 2003 the Government stated that all diplomas bearing the designation of Kosovo are valid, and the problem started in 2008 with the proclamation of the so-called Republic of Kosovo since when the diplomas started bearing that designation. Obradovic stated that the issue pertains not only to the sphere of education, but has a wider political and national significance and the Republic of Serbia is doing its best to resolve it.

Deputy Srdjan Spasojevic said that a month ago he asked a question on the behalf of the New Serbia Parliamentary Group regarding the 15% increase in the price of electric power and had received no answer to the question whether the citizens living on the territory of the Municipality of Kraljevo could be exempt from the increase in 2011. The Deputy Prime Minister said that the Government would discuss the matter at one of its upcoming sittings. Spasojevic said that New Serbia’s initiative that students from the territory of Kraljevo, whose tuition is not paid from the budget, be exempt from paying tuition has been realised.

Deputy Cedomir Jovanovic requested information on whether Serbian dignitaries had debated the country’s position on Serbia’s membership in the NATO with Russian Prime Minister Putin. Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic said that the answer to the question whether joining NATO is a prerequisite for Serbia’s EU accession is very clear – no, and added that this attitude has been confirmed by the representatives of several countries, the US among them, in their meetings with Serbian dignitaries. Serbia joined the Partnership for Peace programme and will continue its relationship with NATO via the programme, said Djelic. To Jovanovic’s question whether Serbia has the right to a correction of the energy treaty as it is the only country which is a minority partner in the project, Djelic reminded him that Serbia is a 49% shareholder or co-owner of NIS so that good results are in its interest.

To deputy Zoran Sami’s question regarding the sale of Telekom, Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic said that Telekom Serbia would not be sold below 1.4 billion EUR and that the Government would annul the tender if the bidder did not improve its offer. He repeated that the conditions for the privatisation of Telekom have been known beforehand and would not be altered.

Deputy Dragan Sormaz deemed the Government’s decision to fight corruption declarative and asked whether the tender for the construction of the bridge across Ada is a city tender, whether the competent institutions would check what was going on with the construction of said bridge and why the cost of its construction had risen compared to the planned one.

Minister of Justice Snezana Malovic said that she cannot answer the question, but that there are no protected persons and that everyone proved to have committed a crime would answer for it. She disagreed with the appraisal of the Government’s attitude towards corruption stressing that the Serbian Government would continue to fight crime and corruption as it is one of the five goals in was established on. She said that the Serbian Government was preparing further steps in the fight against crime and corruption and not only because of European integration, but in order to effect crucial changes in the society and improve the life of the citizens.

Deputy Petar Jojic asked when the injustice done to the rare producers of buckwheat and buckwheat flour on the territory of Raska would be remedied. Minister of Agriculture, Trade, Forestry and Water Management Dusan Petrovic said that, although buckwheat production is hardly extensive, the Government was seeking ways to assist the cultivation of the culture. Considering its health properties this will be accomplished as part of the incentive for organic food production.

Deputy Zeljko Brestovacki asked what would be done to ensure better agricultural production this year and mitigate the shortage of certain products on the market. He deemed the decision to prevent the export of wheat and flour from Serbia coerced and asked how the problems with the processors i.e. the Milling and Baking Industry would be resolved. Minister Petrovic said that the Government had serious reasons to pass the Ordinance limiting wheat and flour export and that it did so in order to protect the citizens of Serbia. He announced a series of measures aimed at protecting the Serbian market and citizens which would not jeopardise the interest of the milling industry.

To deputy Arpad Fremond’s question about the pension and disability insurance for agricultural producers, Minister of Agriculture Dusan Petrovic said that the ambiguities about subsidizing members of agricultural households could be resolved via by-laws and that the issues are currently being dealt with by the competent ministries.

Deputy Aleksandra Jankovic asked whether the rights of the young people being preventively held in custody for almost six months have been violated and if the Serbian citizens can file charges against the organizers of the Pride Parade. Minister of Justice Snezana Malovic said that it is in the common interest to curtail the violence erupting on the streets of Belgrade and some sporting events. Regarding those detained, the Minister said that she would not discuss into the grounds for their detainment, but that she can responsibly claim that they were treated the same as other detainees.

Deputy Ivan Andric’s question about how far the reformation of public enterprises had come along was answered by Minister of Economy and Regional Development Nebojsa Ciric. He said that some of the public enterprises have already begun the process stating the example of Telekom and Belgrade Airport. The Ministry of Economy has called a tender via a public tender agency for the selection of public enterprise managers, selected according to their expertise and working experience, not according to party affiliation. Andric asked about the guillotining of regulations and reasons why the plan providing the basis of the functioning of the economic system in Serbia was not fulfilled. Minister Ciric said that the abolition of regulations is a priority of the reconstructed Government and that some segments have experienced progress.

Deputy Milan Lapcevic asked why the Task Group for the sale of Telekom Serbia decided to accept Telekom Austria’s offer and extend the completion deadline. Minister of Economy Ciric said that this was not the first time in the privatisation process that the deadline was extended adding that the seller, the state in this case, has the right to give the buyer additional time to improve the offer or raise the necessary funds.

Deputy Vladan Jeremic asked three questions about military pensioners, employment of disabled persons and Serbian citizens who earned their pension abroad. Deputy Prime Minister Djelic informed the deputy that he shall receive a written answer.

The question deputy Dragoljub Micunovic had for the Minister of Police about the copper mafia, was answered by Deputy Prime Minister Djelic as the competent ministry had not sent a representative, who said that the Government was aware of the problem which was both an economic and security one. The Ministry of Interior, said Djelic will prepare a response on the criminal charges and actions implemented regarding the theft of copper.

Deputy Bojan Djuric asked Bozidar Djelic if he, as Deputy Prime Minister in charge of EU, believed that Serbia’s EU membership would be sped up if it decided to join NATO. Djelic said that EU and NATO alliance leaders did not connect the membership in one organisation with the membership in the other organisation, nor did they condition one with the other. He added that the fact that NATO alliance was a reality cannot be ignored and that Serbia’s response was to join the Partnership for Peace in 2006 and military neutrality voted by the National Assembly.

Minister of Culture, Information and Information Society Predrag Markovic answered deputy Zeljko Tomic’s question about the existence of censorship in Serbia. He refuted the claims as unfounded and stated that he personally believed that some domestic media were auto-censured. Markovic announced that soon the competent ministry would appoint a state secretary for information who will be in charge of everything relating to media strategy and legislation.

Deputy Srboljub Zivanovic asked several questions of the Minister of Agriculture regarding the payment of outstanding pensions, last year’s outstanding subsidies, loans for the spring sowing and problems with the imported wheat and artificial fertilizer. Responding to the question whether it was true that a certain amount of wheat contaminated with radioactive beams was imported, Minister Petrovic stressed that every kilogram of wheat and artificial fertilizer undergoes strict phytosanitary control when imported into Serbia. The Minister announced that he will inform the public if he ascertains such findings with the competent inspection services.

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