By Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Macedonian MPs passed a budget rebalance that the government claims cuts unproductive spending to increase the minimum wage and support farmers, small businesses and workers at bankrupt companies.
The budget rebalance, approved by MPs late on Sunday, reallocated a total of 47 million euros from the 2017 budget in order to help to support farmers, small businesses and workers at companies that have gone bankrupt.
The money comes from the planned funds that the previous VMRO DPMNE-led government intended for capital investments but failed to spend, and from cutting unproductive spending on officials’ travels, presentations, economic promotions and advertising.
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev denied however that his government would cut back on ongoing infrastructure projects.
“We will continue all the roads that have been started. We will continue with every project,” Zaev said in a statement.
Money is being allocated for increasing the minimum monthly salary of some 70,000 employees from 150 euros to around 200 euros, starting from September.
More money will be spent on welfare for workers at bankrupt companies as well as on supporting active job-finding measures, small businesses, subsidies for farmers and on attracting funds from the EU’s pre-accession assistance programme.
The budget passed with 61 votes from the majority MPs in the 120-seat parliament and in the absence of the opposition VMRO DPMNE party, whose legislators left the session in protest.
They claimed that the new government led by the Social Democrats would solely cut from planned capital investments and was deaf to their proposed amendments.
Two MPs voted against the rebalance.
The rebalance includes maintenance of the budget deficit at 2.9 per cent of GDP and a projected GDP growth of 2.2 per cent this year.
The previous VMRO DPMNE-led government projected three per cent GDP growth but the new administration insists that 2.2 per cent is a more realistic figure.