Prilep and Kumanovo with most write-off requests
In 1,000 inhabitants, 33 Kumanovo families have submitted write-off requests, 29 in Prilep, 21 in Skopje and Demir Hisar. Then in Kocani 18 and 16 families in Negotino, Gostivar and Tetovo. Least in Struga, Vinica and Berovo – less than 10 families per 1,000 residents, according to Inbox 7 research. 11th October 2014. Prilep and Kumanovo, heroes of Macedonian liberation are ready to celebrate the 73rd anniversary of uprising against fascism. These towns in the past were the vanguard of the Macedonian society. Only faint memories remained of those days when we used to live well
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In 2014, these two towns have been linked by an infamous record. Most write-off applicants. About 4,500 poor families have applied in Kumanovo, and 2,783 in Prilep (one day before completing this article). Instead of squares in these towns, citizens are increasingly visiting the centers for social work.
Inbox 7 has done a research on the latest project of the Government to write off the debts of socially disadvantaged families. According to data collected from 20 centers for social work, the longest list of applicants is in Kumanovo.
Former middle class now waiting for write-offs
Macedonian middle class of the 90s is the category of citizens who now submit write-off documents in social care centers. These are the most common comments from our sources on the applicants’ list.
Most write-off applicants in Kumanovo are middle-aged people to retire, says Stojan J. from Kumanovo who did not apply because his wife has a disability pension, and he works something, so he collects income of over 100,000 denars and failed to meet the requirement, although he has unpaid bills.
“After they had destroyed large companies, as the shoe factory CHIK and others like it, they destroyed the town. People of Kumanovo has been in agony for 25 years”, says our interlocutor.
He adds that he has unpaid electricity bills and broadcasting fees. With 7,000 denars disability pension they cannot even feed themselves, let alone to pay the broadcasting fee.
With similar views on the situation in Prilep is the Sociology Professor at the Faculty of Economics of this town, Ljupcho Pechijareski.
“Basically it is about several reasons: first, high rates of unemployment, poverty and inequality, resulting in low standards of living of the population; second, the absence of significant investments in the economy. Third, inadequate education system to the needs of the labor market; Fourth, low cost of labor and fifth, citizens’ over-indebtedness”, says Professor Pechijareski.
He adds that the town under Marko’s Towers needs several large industrial facilities that will employ from 500 to 1,000 people who will induce economy and contribute to improving people’s standard of living.
Strict criteria are the main reason that less than 40,000 families have applied. These are the comments of Inbox 7 interlocutors who believe that the number of indebted is much bigger.
“In Macedonia there are many families that cannot pay their bills, but they do not meet government’s criteria”, says 60-year-old Blaze from Kocani who has recently filed a write-off request.
He managed to do it because he does not own a land as it is his father’s, so the income from rice goes to that name.
Koce. J from Prilep used a similar benefit; he processes tobacco on his grandfather’s behalf, as his account is blocked by an enforcement agent for unpaid electricity.
“My account is blocked and I have no income, so I fulfilled the condition to apply, otherwise there is no chance to meet the criteria”, says Koce.
He adds that his family of four gives 3,500 denars a month only for bread, the same amount for additional basic products so it already exceeds the limit of 8,000 per month.
“Families that realistically meet the condition for write-off do not really have for food with the basic products in the month. So every day in Macedonia we have at least 40,000 families or 100,000 people who have no money for bread. It is five percent of the Macedonian population. It is too much”, says our interlocutor.
However, employees in the ministries responsible for implementation of this project say that this is a measure to protect the poorest categories of citizens.
Municipalities with most welfare recipients have least applicants
Municipalities which have most welfare recipients have a small respond to write-offs, according to the Inbox 7 research. Leaders in this category are mainly towns from western Macedonia.
In one of the centers for social work they clarified that the reasons for this situation in these towns was that welfare recipients had paid their bills regularly in order to use the subsidy of 700 denars given by the state if they pay the electricity bill on time. In other towns in the country (almost all), the number of write-off applicants is greater than the number of welfare recipients.