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Public debate "How to increase transparency in spending public money?"

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Almost two million taxpayers fill the budget daily by paying taxes, and even fines which have lately become a prolific source. The European Commission in its Progress Report on Macedonia for 2014 emphasizes the deterioration of the quality of public spending. The main concerns in the research of the Institute of Financial Policy in Washington, which has developed an index of budget transparency, are the absence of pre-budget statement, of civil budgets and the failure to record the public debt in the document. It also notes that Macedonia prepares a linear, not programming budget required by the EU, which should make it easier to monitor the spending of money in terms of expected results. Only 3.3 percent of the state institutions in the country have published on their websites the current budget as well as costs and expenses incurred during the year. Other institutions still keep the data from 2013, and most of them have not published their current strategic work plan.

Spending public money in our country is absolutely opaque, although for the last 20 years we have been learning what means to be transparent and accountable, experts say.

Dr Sladjana Taseva, the president of "Transparency International" said that through small and smaller scale procurements the government has found a mechanism to avoid reporting to the public. “My conclusion is that we do our utmost to have laws that give the impression of ensuring transparency and accountability in spending of public money, and on the other side everything is being done to avoid obligations for accountability. This is where the best opportunity for misuse of public money can be found. The need to avoid accountability means one has something to hide, and here lays the greatest risk of corruption, said Taseva at today's debate dedicated to the issue of transparency of the government”

According to available information, monuments and buildings are the first on the list of state expenses. Professor Vanco Uzunov considers that unless citizens demand accountability from the government on how they spend their money, the government will never do it on its own.” This Problem can be solved only when there is political will. If there is no political will, we can enact laws or projects that will result in nothing unless politicians finally decide to publish data and work in a transparent manner. There is good news though that the Government in Macedonia does what citizens actually require them. The whole problem of transparency comes down to the willingness of the citizens to require that. If they demand that, it will certainly lead to the final solution of the problem” said Vanco Uzunov.

Experts believe that it is necessary to establish democratic control over the government in order for public money to be used to provide better lives. Citizens have the right to know and the government must inform because it is its obligation since the moment it has accepted to come to power.

Representatives from the Council on Public Procurement and the State Audit Office were also invited to the debate, but did not respond to the invitation.

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