Macedonian Parliament in Heated Reshuffle Debate

resizer70The start of a Macedonian parliamentary session to debate the recent reshuffling of the cabinet of centre-right Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and to appoint new ministers has so far been marked by a heated verbal exchange between the PM and the outgoing Finance Minister Trajko Slaveski, who was fired on Wednesday.

In his expose, Gruevski spared no words of appreciation for Slaveski’s past work.

However, he added: “I deeply believe that the Finance Ministry can work more efficiently and with more coordination, especially now when the global economic downturn has struck Macedonia.”

“I cannot accept the qualification of inefficiency and lack of coordination,” Slaveski replied, arguing that the Ministry had been under an inordinate amount of stress of late to respond to the current economic crisis. “I tried to be a mover, not someone who is being moved,” he said.

He warned that an urgent budget cut of some 100 million euros is needed, second this year, to respond the shrinking tax revenue amid the global crisis.

“Do not wait till September, put this issue on an emergency session,” he urged.

The opposition responded by saying that the reshuffle was insufficient since the entire government is responsible for poor results in tackling the effects of the global economic crisis and for the slow pace of reforms needed for the country’s EU accession.

Slaveski has been seen as one of Gruevski’s key players and a Fin Min for the last three years.

“Slaveski is only a victim that should take the responsibility for the wrong Government policy”, Andrej Petrov, Secretary General of the main opposition party, the Social Democrats, told parliament.

The cabinet is awaiting new ministers for finance, education, agriculture and a deputy prime minister in charge of European affairs, as well as some other deputy ministers. A new post of deputy prime minister for economy should also be filled in today.

Education and Agriculture Ministers Pero Stojanovski and Aco Spasenovski as well as the deputy Agriculture Minister Hristijan Delev formally resigned from office on the same day that the finance minister was sacked.

Outgoing Deputy Prime Minister in charge of European Affairs Ivica Bocevski was the first high-ranking official who surprised the public with his resignation last week.

Current Deputy Prime Minister Zoran Stavreski will be the new finance minister, and will retain his old post. Vasko Naumovski is to be the new deputy prime minister for European affairs.

Gruevski chose the head of Skopje’s Cadastre Office, Nikola Todorov, to be the new education minister. Vladimir Pesevski, director of the Small Enterprise Assistance Funds, SEAF, in the country is to fill the newly opened post of Deputy Prime Minister for Economy.

Deputy Transport Minister Ljupco Dimovski will lead the Agriculture Ministry, while Perica Ivanovski will be appointed Dimovski’s deputy. Dimovski’s current post will be filled by Goran Mihajlovski.

None of the ministers coming from Gruevski’s coalition partner, the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, was replaced. Additional analysis of their work will follow, the party said Thursday.

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