MPs love talking, but not on the rostrum
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They are not present on the rostrum, but they “melt” their telephones. Even a quarter of MPs have not said a word on the rostrum in the last half of the year, according to the analysis “My MP” prepared every six months by the parliamentary services. But for some of them it is obviously easier to communicate with the electorate via mobile phones. At least it is shown by the figures that we got using the right to free access to public information, which we used to gather information about how much MPs use office telephones and what bills they have made for the last four years of their term.
First among equals, the parliamentary speaker Trajko Veljanovski only once in 2013 had a presentation in plenary session, judging by the analysis of “My MP”. However, his bill for last year totaled 84,688 denars or about 1,500 Euros. For the past four years he has spent 457,489 denars. But although first among MPs, he is not the first in talking compared to his colleagues. An absolute champion in talking in the last four years is the MP from the opposition SDSM and candidate for mayor of Skopje in the last local elections, Jani Makraduli. He is also one of the most talkative ones on the rostrum. According to the data we received from the parliamentary services, on average he talks for 2 hours and 40 minutes a day. Makraduli almost “dissolved” the battery of his phone in 2010. Then he spoke an average of 4 hours per day. He even exceeded the President of the Parliament Trajko Veljanovski, who is expectedly second in this list. For four years Makraduli’s bill was 594.961 denars or more than 9.500 Euros. Last year he spent almost 120.000 denars.
SCOOP Macedonia received a clarification from “T-Mobile Macedonia”, the operator that won the bid for phone calls and appliances for the MPs in 2008, that an impulse is a 2 minute conversation. So the time MPs spend on calls from the lists we receive from parliamentary services (attached) is obtained if we divide the amount of impulses with number 2.
MPs have a limit of 3,600 denars per month to talk, while the coordinators of the parliamentary groups have a thousand denars more.
One of those who have never appeared on the rostrum in 2013 is the VMRO-DPMNE MP Vele Gjorgjievski. Probably he communicated more easily with the office phone, on which in 2013 he spent 29,868 denars, which is within the prescribed limit. During his four-year mandate he spent a total of 131,138 denars.
Of those who have barely appeared for a word in the Parliament is the VMRO – DPMNE MP from Berovo Marija Rashkovska. In 2013 she had presentations in sessions twice and the same number of replies or counter-replies. She is one of the MPs with a higher balance of telephone impulses. For four years she has spent 102 thousand denars and last year about 34 thousand denars, which is within the limit approved. Silent in the sessions is her party and parliamentary colleague, MP Nada Stanchevska who in the last year of the mandate had a balance of around 40,000 denars. For four years she has spent about 183 thousand denars on telephone.
The amount of Marinela Tusheva from SDSM is similar, and during the whole year she had no presentations in a plenary session. Although she spent least in 2013, the total for the last four years ranks her somewhere in the middle of the list of “the talkatives”.
Of those, however, who most love talking, despite Veljanovski and Makraduli, the top of the list also includes the coordinator of the parliamentary group of the ruling VMRO – DPMNE Silvana Boneva, who last year talked on the phone for 1 hour and 45 minutes a day on average, and in 2010 for nearly 3 hours a day. The Coordinator of the Democratic Union of Albanians, a coalition partner in the government, Ermira Mehmeti talks for 1 hour and 45 minutes on average, while in the past years it was double less. MPs from the ruling majority Aleksandar Nikolovski and Vladimir Gjorchev talked for 1 hour and 35 minutes last year, or 1 hour and 30 minutes in 2010, 2 hours per day on average.
The former parliament speaker and longtime MP Stojan Andov recalls the days when MPs did not have mobiles.
“Generally speaking the position of the MP did not use to be as strengthened as it is now. In the first mandate the majority of MPs were not professional. There was an allowance that was given to work in the Parliament, although most MPs were businessmen and working in their companies or were employed somewhere. That was until 1994“, says Andov. He adds that MPs used to save more.
“First time in 1992 pagers appeared that were worn on the belt and if someone wanted to talk to you then the pager would beep and you could see who called. It was the first mandate. Before the end of the second mandate mobile phones appeared. They were bulky, heavy and not many people used them. Then in the third mandate the use of mobile phones expanded. They were not used to send texts but only for calls and then that communication technique developed” says Andov. According to him, it is good that MPs use their mobiles a lot, even for recording and they are not to be reprimanded if they pay for that. Although, he highlights that it is best for the MPs to have direct contacts with citizens.