Thursday, 27 October 2011

Parliamentary Questions in October

On 27 October, in line with article 205 paragraph 1 of the National Assembly Rules of Procedure, the MPs posed various questions to the Government of the Republic of Serbia between 4 and 7 p.m.

Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic and the ministers of agriculture, trade, forestry and water management Dusan Petrovic and labour and social policy Rasim Ljajic responded to the MPs’ questions, while the Minister of Health Zoran Stankovic, Minister of Culture, Media and Information Society Predrag Markovic, Minister of Infrastructure and Energy Milutin Mrkonjic and Minister of Education and Science Zarko Obradovic were in attendance.


In the course of the proceedings, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Gordana Comic greeted the students of the Serbian Language and Literature Study Programme of the Niksic Faculty of Philosophy who observed the work of the National Assembly.


MPs Riza Halimi, Sasa Dujovic, Milos Aligrudic, Zoran Krasic, Radoslav Milovanovic, Zeljko Tomic, Marina Toman, Miroslav Marinkovic, Mirko Munjic and Srdjan Milivojevic asked the questions.


MP Riza Halimi asked why diplomas earned in Kosovo could not be nostrified for the last 10 years, what the Government intended to do about the badly implemented privatisations in small towns in the south of Serbia and when Albanians from the south of Serbia who worked in Kosovo-Metohija would be granted the right to a pension.

Prime Minister Cvetkovic responded that Serbian citizens who had earned their diplomas at the University of Pristina could not expect them to be recognised in Serbia because Serbia does not recognise Kosovo as a state. In the future talks between Belgrade and Pristina, he said, may come up with a mutually acceptable solution relating to the nostrification of educational documents if both sides were willing to resolve the issue.

Responding to the question about the privatisation of some companies in the south of Serbia, Prime Minister Cvetkovic said that the Ministry of Economy and Regional Development is obliged to investigate any disputed contract, mentioning that there have been cases in which the companies were bought for their property and not to maintain or develop the production in them. The Prime Minister said that everyone meeting the requisites may take part in an auction, and the low price paid for some of the companies was due to their high losses. If any violation of the course of the auction is ascertained such as some of the buyers driving the other participants off by threatening violence or blackmail thus eliminating the competition, then that is the job for the authorities in charge, said Cvetkovic. He also said that the high unemployment rate is one of the gravest problems the Government faces and the measures it implements are aimed at altering the economic system, and increasing both production and employment.

Minister of Labour and Social Policy Rasim Ljajic responded that workers from the municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja who earned part of their social insurance in Kosovo-Metohija would not be able to realise their right to pension without proof of payment of social insurance contributions.


MP Sasa Dujovic had a question about the illegal privatisation of agricultural property and collectives in Vojvodina. He also asked when the legally ascertained debts to the beneficiaries of ex-servicemen’s and disability benefits would be settled.

Minister of Agriculture, Trade, Forestry and Water Management Dusan Petrovic said that the question would be forwarded to the Ministry of Economy and Regional Development and announced a new law on collectives. He stressed that the Government would implement measures to support small agricultural enterprises, companies with considerable land property would be afforded adequate treatment enabling the association of a large number of co-operators.


MP Milos Aligrudic asked whether the Government had completed and adopted its report on the situation in Kosovo-Metohija and whether it would propose conclusions to the National Assembly.

Prime Minister Cvetkovic said that the Government had adopted the report and would propose that the National Assembly debate it in a sitting on 2 November.

To Milos Aligrudic’s additional question, Cvetkovic said that the Government is obliged to inform the parliament on the situation in Kosovo-Metohija every three months in its quarterly activity report.


MP Zoran Krasic asked what the difference was between the passports issued in Belgrade and those issued in Kosovska Mitrovica, who gave the EU permission to build its infrastructure in Kosovska Mitrovica – a power transformer station, telephone exchange and other and why the Government enabled the different treatment of goods exchange on the crossings of Jarinje and Merdare.

Prime Minister Cvetkovic said that according to the SC Resolution 1244 Kosovo-Metohija is a special zone in the charge of the UN.


MP Radoslav Milovanovic asked what the Government’s strategy was as regards the development of small and medium enterprises.

Prime Minister Cvetkovic responded that small and medium enterprises make up the third of the economy in Serbia and the Government is employing measures aimed at keeping them afloat and conducive to their development. One of the Serbian economy’s main problems is the lack of favourable loans. In order to ensure favourable credit lines, the first portion of the European Investment Bank’s 250 million EUR worth of loans for small and medium enterprises via domestic business banks will be approved next week, announced Prime Minister Cvetkovic. He said that the loans would be approved under very favourable conditions, with low interest rates and a seven-year repayment period.

In addition, the Government will stimulate the export from small and medium enterprises. In cooperation with the Post of Serbia it will enable the shipping of small packages valued at 1000 EUR or less abroad under short procedure by reducing the number of documents required to only two, said Prime Minister Cvetkovic.

Commenting the parliamentary question he said that local self-governments should adjust communal fees to the conditions under which the small and medium enterprises operate adding that the Government adopted a measure halving, for a certain period, the contributions paid to the state for everyone who employs inexperienced workers for the first time. In addition, the Government limited the period for mutual payments to 60 days by an ordinance mostly pertaining to small and medium enterprises.


MP Zeljko Tomic asked why the state of Serbia had not sent a diplomatic note to Albania regarding the statement of Prime Minister Sali Berisha that Albania and Kosovo had signed a treaty on joint consular representation abroad.

Prime Minister Cvetkovic responded that Serbia recognised neither the self-proclaimed state of Kosovo nor its activities.


MP Marina Toman asked why the Government failed to adopt a law on transitional crisis taxation of foreign banks and was protecting foreign banks. Pointing out that the loans granted by EU banks doing business in Serbia have the highest interest rates, she asked why, when adopting the Law on the Protection of Financial Service Beneficiaries, the Government did not propose its retroactive application and higher fines.

Responding to the question, Prime Minister Cvetkovic stressed that the banking system is complex and lowering the banks’ interest rates could not be done by decree, but rather by influencing the free market and added that the limiting of interest rates would be more trouble than it is worth. The banks’ interest rates were influenced by the interest rate of the National Bank of Serbia which reached 14% due to high inflation but its decrease and by ensuring a stable course the referent interest rate started to fall in the second half of the year, stated Prime Minister Cvetkovic.

MP Marina Toman asked again whether the Government intended to introduce a tax on the extra profit of western banks like many other states have done. Prime Minister Cvetkovic said that the banking system comprises domestic and foreign banks functioning according to Serbian regulations and the introduction of such a tax would cause chaos in the banking system.


MP Miroslav Marinkovic asked whether this year’s good crop yield would mean a drop in the price of bread.

Minister of Agriculture, Trade, Forestry and Water Management Dusan Petrovic said that this year’s wheat yield guarantees market stability. The Government’s decision to fix the price of Sava bread at 44 RSD protects the citizens’ standard.


MP Mirko Munjic asked how many states owed the defense industry which was brought into a difficult position by the reform of the defense system.

Prime Minister Cvetkovic said that the defense industry sector has achieved progress thanks to the defense system reform but still needs further reorganisation.

MP Mirko Munjic asked for written data on the SDPR’s business transactions and the arms production and export companies it had founded saying that the company was involved in numerous scandals.


MP Srdjan Milivojevic asked for a written response from the Minister of Interior on the number of registered organised crime groups in Kosovo-Metohija.

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