Sunday, 26 September 2021 | News today: 0

Mickoski: Macedonia got a criminal cartel in power

Recently, in a correspondence with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, you said that you have information about the government’s crime and that it cannot be hidden, what exactly where you referring to?

Mickoski: The inability to realize projects, the chaotic and harmful moves in the economic sector are just one segment, but committing crime becomes the main activity of the government. Recently I met a prominent businessman who has been running several companies for more than thirty years. He says: “Even during the transition period there was no stealing like this now, there is no institution that is not rotten and where you will not be asked to pay a bribe to finish the job.”

And indeed. A number of documents and information about the crime that is being committed at several levels across the echelons reach us. Common citizens come and testify about the agony through which they pass over ordinary tasks they need to do. Businessmen testify about criminal actions, but also people from institutions managed by the government. They give us information and say that such a robbery has not happened before. We are precisely collecting information and we will inform the public very soon.

Some of our findings have already been published. The public will find out how an active tender for coal excavation in ELEM was cancelled and instead of choosing the second best offer, a new tender with a price higher than one million euros was made, while setting conditions that can be met by only one company in the country, so after it become apparent that they are backed into a corner, they made alterations to the advertisement and lied about it. The public will also find out, in another case, how the company of an official of the party in power got tenders from a state institution, with conditions that only his company could meet. How tenders for supply of food in certain institutions were awarded at twice higher prices so that company close to the government could get them. In the fourth case, how millions of health-related purchases were made in the healthcare sector for tenders to be awarded to a company that has close ties with a director at one of the clinics. How temporary employment contracts with companies close to the government were concluded and a range of other cases where there are reasonable suspicions of crime.

The largest wave of dubious deals is after this government abolished the Public Procurement Council. Now no one has control, which is a possibility to agree on tenders face to face. Why is crime becoming the main activity of the government? Because they know that they will last shortly, and instead of working, they are doing suspicious businesses and criminogenic activities, they are looking for opportunities to fill their pockets in this short time and leave nothing for the people. Instead of the promised life, the people got a criminal cartel in power.

The government boasted that the economy has recovered and that the World Bank predicts growth in the coming period. Your assessment of the economy?

Mickoski: I will tell you about the prediction, but first I will comment on another phenomenon. Instead of having a healthy debate on projects in the economy, creating conditions and a better business climate, we see that the first people in the economy, Finance Minister Tevdoski and Deputy Prime Minister Angjushev are debating how much bigger taxes they will impose, and moreover, the Prime Minister Zaev said that the beauty was that they had different opinions. I do not see what is the beauty in that, that the people will pay more in the first and the second case? The inability to create a healthy economy will be paid by the citizens and their pockets will cover the budget hole that the government does not know how to fill.

As regards the World Bank report, they interpret it in a distorted manner and knowingly neglect certain segments. If you look carefully, you will see that after Macedonia ended with zero growth instead of a five percent growth as the government promised, the World Bank reduced the GDP growth forecast for Macedonia for 2018 from 3.2 percent to 2.3 percent. The reasons for this should be sought directly from the government. First, the lower-than-average level of capital investments, for which I have warned more than once, and secondly, there are no foreign investments at all. The World Bank says that in the period between 2017 and 2020, growth will be about two percent, which is far from the promises of the government.

On top of that, the government has increased government debt and is trying to hide it from the public. They say the debt is 38.7 percent, while, actually, it is 40.7 percent.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev says there has been progress in terms of foreign investments. Do you think it will move the economy?

Mickoski: When we talk about foreign investments and new employments, we are talking about SDSM’s hypocritical policies. They attacked VMRO-DPMNE’s concept of attracting investments, and now, instead of upgrading, they want to copy it badly. I will be most happy to have not 10, but 110 investments per year, but there are no new foreign investments. They said that there were 10, so they magically grew to 18 foreign investments. In two or three months, maybe they will even say 118 investments, but in reality, it is well known that not a single factory was opened or a cornerstone laid. The only investments are those inherited from the previous government, some as talks at an advanced stage, and construction processes. The Wik company cannot be a new investment, as negotiations started in 2014, or Limak, which has been in Macedonia since 2012, or the opening of the US Adient (former Johnson Controls) in TIRZ Strumica, an investment signed and realized during VMRO-DPMNE’s term. This government, with unprecedented ease, promises to bring this or that investment, but in fact, there is nothing. Neither Google nor Facebook came. On top of everything, they come out and say that VMRO-DPMNE has brought only 23 investments, which is a senseless lie. Only I can list you forty who came in and out of the zones, and there are over 100. After all, look at the employment figures. In order to attract foreign investments, you need to have qualified staff, and the government will not offer such staff. Such staff was laid off 10 months ago. You cannot access foreigners with people who do not speak English, let alone to enter into any kind of contract with a businessman. There are no investments as the business climate has severely deteriorated. When serious companies are interested in you, they first open the reports of international organizations. They will see that the state is the most corrupt in Europe, with plans to raise taxes and rising debts, for which there is no prospect of return, with zero percent GDP growth.

The prime minister said he was seriously committed to the economy because he had good ministers of Foreign Affairs and European Integration. Almost 10 months have passed since they came to power. How do you assess this period?

Mickoski: If it is true that he is seriously committed to the economy, then he is surely seriously committed to his own businesses, and not to the economic well-being of the citizens. There are no results. The role of Zoran Zaev can be compared with a gambler sinking into debt and concessions, who sometimes gets a thousand or two at a slot machine, someone will pat him on the shoulder, but loses much more, he indebted on all sides. Concessions everywhere. Unfulfilled promises and commitments. Those debts also drag the state down. He pledged to speed up Macedonia path toward membership in EU and NATO.

Here we see that he did nothing. He pledged to the farmers, shortening their subsidies. He didn’t launch a single project for the youth. He pledged to the doctors that he would raise their salaries, and they did not take a penny higher salary. He pledged to an average salary of 500 euros, and as statistics show, they cannot reach that amount. He pledged to resolve the name issue, which is the new debt of Zaev’s gambling policy. There is no improvement in any sphere. Tell me, where to live better? They promised better conditions for the media, but I wonder what’s better in these 10 months. They accused VMRO-DPMNE of bribing the media and introduced a new method of pressuring the media – corrupting the media and holding them in the grip of fear. If you are not obedient, here is the SPO or the PPO, whatever. We saw that people in power do not refrain from reprimanding journalists if they ask awkward questions. You remember “It will be your last question”. Therefore we say that this is a captured state. They have done nothing in the economic sector, and not because I have to give some criticism as an opposition leader, but because it is confirmed by the facts. We have the lowest economic growth in Europe at a time when other economies in the region and beyond go forward with big steps. If we were the example that was followed a few years ago, now neighboring Serbia is celebrating major investments of German global corporations, Bulgaria makes mega investments, and not to mention Croatia. And while in these countries they argue whether the growth was three or five percent, we have a growth of zero percent and a prime minister who talks about economy and honesty, while at the same time we see him arranging a bribe of 200 thousand euros.

Zaev says they have found ruined healthcare and institutions, what is your comment?

Mickoski: You see, Zoran Zaev and SDSM have been in power for ten months now. Earlier every day we heard how disastrous was in every area, and now we have the opportunity to see what they are doing or do not. Some things depend only on them. Before the election, there was no rally at which Zaev did not promise that there would be an increase in pensions. Now, with such an ease, without discomfort, he says there will be no rise. They promised a salary of 100,000 denars for the doctors, but they did not give them anything. The pay rise is not in sight. On top of that, they continue to lie, the prime minister says that there would be higher salaries after saving from the procurement of some laboratory analyzer – six million euros.

So, doctors will have to wait to buy the device for a cheaper price. Ok, they’ll save, and what’s next ?! Salaries should be paid every month. The same applies to the salaries of civil servants. They do not want to provide higher salaries. And instead of saying it openly, the prime minister and the ministers criticize civil servants, they were not hard-working, that they were weak, they had no results. Civil servants are as good as the managers of the institutions. And how good the managers are, we see by the first people in the government, who do nothing. In this chaos they misinform the public daily, they say that there are 180 thousand civil servants, Zaev now says there are 149 thousand, and Minister Manchevski, who has the real numbers, says 128 thousand is the whole administration. So, they are consciously lying. Then the prime minister says 80 per cent were poor, and the State Statistical Office said that in 2016 they were 21.9 per cent. Since Zaev is prime minister, poverty has grown by 60 percent, or does the prime minister arbitrarily play the numbers depending on the daily needs ?! They promised all kinds of things and now they ignore them, and it is difficult for them to fulfill anything.

End of the first part of Republika’s mega interview with VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski