The settlement of the Greek-Macedonian dispute is very near - George Stefanopoulos, special adviser to U.S. President Clinton assessed yesterday in the interview for the Greek- American newspaper "Proini."
Stefanopoulos added that "both Macedonia and Greece are showing political wishes for normalization of the mutual relations."
Clinton's special adviser announced he would be visiting Ankara, Athens and Nicosia soon, in order to intensify diplomatic efforts for an improvement in Greek-Turkish relations.
"The United States of America also intends to play a 'catalyst' in this dispute, as it did in the case with the improvement of the Greek-Albanian relations."
"Not one vehicle carrying intermediate goods for the factory 'Obod' from Montenegro has been captured at the Macedonian-Yugoslav border," the director of "Obod - Skopje" Djordje Vucich told MAKPRESS yesterday. The Macedonian Interior Ministry and the Macedonian customs authorities are also denying information about 17 captured trucks, transporting intermediate goods for "Obod" in Macedonia.
Two days ago, the Belgrade agency BETA broadcast the news about this case, calling upon the Montenegro agency Montena- fax. According to this information, the controllers for the implementation of the sanctions against FRY did not allow the trucks to cross the Macedonian-Yugoslav border.
The announcements that Belgrade will send some 20,000 refugees from Kraina to Kosovo are still the cause of grave concern and protests among the Albanians, as well as condemnation by the U.S.A..
Western analysts stress that Washington has "drawn red lines" for Macedonia and Kosovo which must not be crossed, under the threat of direct military intervention.
Authorities in Belgrade announced yesterday that all the border crossings are open to the refugees from Kninska Kraina, and that even war-able men are allowed entry. According to official data, over 120,000 refugees from Kraina crossed into Serbia these days.
By the end of the month, the Defence Ministry will dismiss from function another 6 chiefs of regional units in the municipalities. The Ministry of Urbanization, Construction and Protection of Living Environment appointed 16 new building inspectors in the municipalities. In the same ministry, the chief building inspector for Skopje has been replaced, as well as five chiefs of regional units throughout the Republic.
At the next Government session which will take place on August 21, another 4 chiefs of regional units will be replaced, the minister-spokesman Gjuner Ismail said in response to a journalist's question, adding that this is only a part of the continued action of the Government for disciplining the state organs and services, and that it will continue in the coming period.
"We intensively reviewed the situation surrounding the present UNPREDEP mandate in Macedonia. Although their mission is successful, we feel that they should be located in Skopje with their own command, since the command in Zagreb no longer exists. Additional analyses will follow, and most likely, we will ask for a changing of the mandate," minister-spokesman Gjuner Ismail emphasized at yesterday's Government news conference, in response to a journalist's question as to whether the Macedonian Government will ask for a changing of the mandate of UNPREDEP.
According to the latest data of the Privatization Agency, there are already 190 fully privatized enterprises in Macedonia, of which six (457 employees) in transformation procedure have been liquidated from the economic scene.
92 new subjects for transformation have arrived at the agency, that is to say that the transformation process now encompasses 520 companies with state-owned capital. Another 50 companies have also received a positive opinion from the agency, making the overall total above 340, while the Government Privatization Commission has given a green light to the realization of 71 new programs, or so far, it has issued 281 decisions for the implementation of the privatization programs.
The Privatization Agency revised 288 finished assessments which is less than the number of issued positive opinions for the programs, due to the fact that the assessment is not an obligation in cases where the capital is fully transformed according to the old regulations and when the untransformed capital, after the accession of the managing packet of 51% of the shares, is fully transferred in the form of priority shares in the Agency.
The Administration for Public Income has completed the its obligation for control in 426 cases, which is very close to the definite figure of 440 companies which started the transformation according to the old laws of Ante Markovich. As it is known, the deadline for autonomous transformation of these companies expired on June 28, this year, but as they say at the Agency, literally not one of them will end up under the state hood, i.e. almost all of them have entered the phase of completion of their transformation according to the regulations from the Law on privatization. One of the Agency's problems, which is being solved, is the privatization of the registered 135 small and middle-sized companies which did not use the chance to self-transform, by December 10, last year, inclusive. The deadline for the public call to all former owners of 60 days is expiring, and the Agency is getting prepared to make the decisions and programs for their privatization, which will be followed by an on-the-field inspection of the situation and direct contacts with the managerial teams.
From two days ago, the Government has embarked on a new project to strengthen the tax policy, which has been assessed as inefficient and counter-productive thus far. Changes and new additions have been made in two important legal points
the Law on sales and services tax and the Law on import tax. These government interventions were expounded at the news conference yesterday by Finance Minister Jane Miljovski.
The changes consist in that the places in which the tax control was done previously will now be reduced. Instead of this being done in the trade objects, whose number grew rapidly these last couple of years, reaching the number of 60,000, contrary to the small number of trade "monopolies" from the pre-privatization period, now it is suggested that there be only two control points: on the border, upon the import of the goods and in the production halls where the products will be ready to enter further trade transactions, including export. This way, it will be much easier for the state to follow the distribution channels and eliminate non-payment or tax evasion. Also, Miljovski stressed, an advantage over the "grey economy" will be gained, and the proposed changes also mean a step forward toward the introduction of a Value Added Tax or the so-called VAT-system which is applied in a number of developed countries.
In practice, this will mean abolishing the Statements for delayed tax payment or payment when the transaction is finally closed. The taxes have to be paid, at the latest, 45 days after the "departure" of the goods. As Miljovski explained, this will put an end to the "disappearance" of the tax obligations with the bankruptcy of the firms. Separate new elements are introduced after the sale of cigarettes, which will not be possible without the stamp, the so-called banderole, as a type of state seal that the trade is carried out under its control, and under meticulous tax recording.
The competent minister underlined that the purpose of these changes is to put an end to all malversations upon tax payment. The other logic is to strengthen the financing of the state activities and to provide greater and more regular money inflow into the funds for social and pension insurance. The Government will propose that the mentioned legal projects find themselves at the next session of Parliament, immediately after the end of the vacation season.
The Ministry of Economy has prepared an information for the Government, which, in addition to the analyses of the Macedonian economic situation, will also offer measures that have to be taken in order to stimulate the economy.
In this information, the Minister of Economy wants to introduce a new way of administering the PHARE help. According to this opinion, this help of ECU 25 million should go to two new addresses - some ECU 5 million for the social-health organizations, while the remaining ECU 20 million should be spent on 5-8 new strategic raw materials, imperative for the Macedonian economy. The idea for such expenditure of the funds is to provoke a several-fold funds turnover.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Economy offered the following solutions in this information: first, that the unpaid salaries are not added to the basis for the calculation of the profits tax, and second, with the profits tax, that the percentage of exemption upon reinvestment be increased from the present 30% to 80%, and third, that all foreign investments in the next 5 years be exempt from taxation on profits.
The Ministry of Economy also wants the allowed possibility for exemption from duty in certain cases to reach the maximum 100%, like last year, and not the present 50%. In addition, the Ministry insists that a whole system of measures for import taxation be worked out, which would avoid all kinds of malversations in filling in invoices of the values of the import transactions. On the other hand, it is proposed to increase the number of products which would be under the regime of contingents and to issue permits, which would make it impossible to market inappropriate goods on the Macedonian market.
Minister Ivanov feels that it is necessary to speed up the procedure for the signing of a trade cooperation agreement with the European Union for the marketing of meat and textile products on this market.
In addition, the stance in relation to the taxation of the transactions upon the use of cash was repeated. According to the minister, there is a high level of correlation between the presence of cash money in circulation and the high percentage of "grey economy" on the Macedonian economic scene.
During last month, agreements for the purchase of the following firms: "Komuna" from Skopje, "Velurflok 1," "Karaorman" - Struga, and "Zito Struga" were signed in the Privatization Agency by persons who will be taking over the running of the company.
In all cases, the Agency signed an agreement with the managerial teams in the companies, as the only bidders.