More than 40 schools without heating this winter?!
Six municipalities do not know how to spend the winter, they do not have enough money for school heating and block grants from the state budget are small and irregular. Ministry of Education and Science confirms that in Kicevo, Kumanovo, Resen, Tearce, Zelenikovo and Plasnica a total of 38 primary and eight secondary schools have heating problems
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Blocked accounts, old debts, overemployment, irregular payments of block grants from the budget – schools drown in debts, and Ministry of Education sends them to seek help from municipalities. For Inbox 7 from the ministry they inform that even last year they pointed out to six municipalities Kicevo, Kumanovo, Resen, Tearce, Zelenikovo and Plasnica to take steps to overcome the problems.
And municipalities’ requirements for assistance from the state commodity stocks have ended unsuccessfully. The problem is not solved either for municipality Kicevo, which received only a third of the required quantity of oil.
“We asked for 250 tons of oil, and from the commodity stocks we got only 60, 50 of them for heating and 10 for transport. Until February we will not have problems heating the premises in two primary and two secondary schools where teaching was halted for five weeks”, Emin Nasufi, spokesman for the municipality, explained for Inbox7.
And Kumanovo Municipality has also asked from the state oil reserves to heat schools, but there has been no response yet. They say they do not know how long they will manage, in half of the schools the situation is critical. Irena Ilievska from the municipal financial sector, for Inbox 7 says that schools have debts from unpaid bills for electricity, oil, firewood from 4-5 years ago, and the municipality allocates funds from its own budget to pay the debts.
“In Kumanovo Municipality there are 17 primary and 5 secondary schools, half of them, or 10-12 schools had problems with power off even in September. We signed an agreement with EVN to pay the debt in installments. We will spend the winter very hard”, alerts Ilievska.
Block grants for municipalities low, for MES growing
While municipalities consider block grants they receive through the Ministry of Education and Science from the state budget too low for them to cover their costs, the competent argue that the funds grow annually.
“The amount of block grants that the ministry transfers to municipalities is increasing each year, and according to the Law on Primary and Secondary Education the municipality has to complement the received block grant with funds from their own sources, except for salaries for school employees. Other sources used by municipalities are legacies, bequests, gifts, etc.”, it is said in the letter from the Ministry of Education and Science to Inbox7.
The question is whether the funds from the state budget are low and whether municipalities have their own priorities in their distribution.
“All the money we transfer to schools’ account is taken by enforcement agents because we have blocked accounts for old debts, electricity, water and other operating costs. Municipality Kicevo will pay the debt for electricity and water for the four schools by November. Then we will look for other sources, we have contacted the schools to develop some plans”, explains spokesman Emin Nasufi.
Besides low grants, one of the problems Municipality Kicevo is facing is too many employees in schools, hence much of the funding goes to payment of salaries. Municipalities that Inbox 7 contacted are unanimous that these problems occur because funds they receive from block grants are low and irregular.
“Two grants are late now. It happens by the end of the year even not to get the last grant at all“, says Irena Ilievska from the financial sector in Kumanovo municipality.
Planning the costs by budget items is in jurisdiction of the municipality and the school (salaries and costs of the category goods and services for which includes heating). The School Board proposes a financial plan to the municipal council and as pointed out by the Ministry of Education, they self-assess what purpose the money is to be spent for, then the type of energy required, the public procurement procedure.
Block grants which each municipality receive from the budget are allocated according to the Regulation on the methodology for determining the criteria for distribution of block grants for primary and secondary education (Official Gazette No. 1/14). The criteria in the municipality for the allocation are determined by the Municipal Council (Official Gazette 133/14).
For Inbox 7 from the Ministry they inform that even last year they pointed out to six municipalities to take measures to overcome the problems. But instead of finding a solution, students lost a month and a half school in Kicevo, after their parents had decided not to let them in cold classrooms, and the mayor Fatmir Dehari said that he managed to find money for heating only schools with Albanian students. According to the media, when he returned from Switzerland, he said he knew people only from the Albanian diaspora.
The message from the Minister Abdulakim Ademi was that mayors are the ones who have to control the work of schools and how this money is spent, because they are under their jurisdiction.
In RM within the competence of municipalities (80 municipalities and the City of Skopje) are 335 primary and 661 regional schools, 10 elementary music schools, one adult education school and 91 secondary schools. Teaching takes place in more than 1,100 facilities and about 1.5 million square meters are heated.
14 million denars from the budget for municipal block grants
Municipal grants, which are monthly paid from the budget, are different for each municipality. As an illustration – one of the smallest municipalities Plasnica, for primary education this year received 3.000.000 denars, which would mean 250,000 denars per month, which is half less than 2013. Plasnica has 6,500 inhabitants, and the debts are more than half a million Euros. And last year because of problems with heating teaching was interrupted there.
Block grants by municipalities
|Municipality||Total block grants||Total targeted grants||Block grants for education (primary and secondary)||Other(MKD)|
(Other includes resources for culture, child care, nursing homes, firefighters)
According to the final version of the budget of the Republic of Macedonia in 2014 more than 13 million and 900 thousand denars were allocated for block grants
Oil reserves one more year
State authorities, public enterprises, public institutions and other legal entities and institutions established by the state and operating in public interest, as well as municipalities, will have the opportunity in crisis situations to use state oil reserves for another year.
This has been provided in the last proposal – amendments to the Law on mandatory oil reserves which has been submitted to the Parliament to be adopted in an emergency procedure.
Under the amendments, instead of January 1, 2015, Macedonia postpones this obligation arising from the harmonization of Macedonian legislation with the EU until January 1, 2016. According to the conclusion of the Government of RM, starting from November 11, 2014, it was proposed to prolong the entry into force of the Law for 12 months or after January 1, 2016.
Editor: Stojanka Mitreska