For a third day in a row, the State Revenue Office continues with its inspection control in several civil society organizations, which were part of the initiative “We decide”. The inspection follows the speech of former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski in front of the State Election Commission, when the leader of VMRO-DPMNE announced “de-soros-ization of Macedonia”. Civil society organizations accuse of political pressure because of their criticism of the government, while the State Revenue Office claims they are carrying out regular control of all taxpayers, regardless of the political developments in the country.
The State Revenue Office had announced regular financial controls before the elections to some of the civil society organizations, as they say, even though two days ago the Revenue Office said that the inspection was being conducted upon the request of another state body.
Uranija Pirovska, Executive Director of the Helsinki Committee in Republic of Macedonia, believes this is political pressure on the organizations because of their critical position towards the government. “The Helsinki Committee was the first organization to which the State Revenue Office announced financial inspection, on December 6, before the parliamentary elections. We were told that we had been selected randomly for the financial control, which is contrary to the statement that the State Revenue Office gave for 24 News two days ago, in which it said that they are acting on the request of another state body, and do not mention which one. I believe it is tendentious and with the intention of putting pressure on all those organizations which during the rule of VMRO-DPMNE had a critical position towards the policies of the ruling party”, stressed Pirovska for CIVIL Media.
For her there is no doubt at all that there is a relation between the speech of the former prime minister in front of the SEC and this inspection that is being carried out by the State Revenue Office. “Absolutely yes. Moreover, let’s not forget that before the elections there was a flyer of GDOM circulating, in which we were all listed, by names and last names, as people who had allegedly been receiving money from SOROS for destroying Republic of Macedonia”, indicates Pirovska.
There is also an inspection of the State Revenue office in the Macedonian Centre for European Training. Bojan Maricic from the MCET explains that the inspection of the State Revenue Office has been announced as a regular and usual one. The inspectors, based on a warrant, requested inspection of all revenues and expenditures from January 1, 2016 until December 5, 2016. The entire documentation was given for inspection, and the documentation review begins this week. So far everything is being carried out within the framework of the law and in a polite tone”, says Maricic for CIVIL Media.
Though what is symptomatic also according to him is that the inspection is taking place precisely after the elections and the announcement made by former Prime Minister Gruevski on “de-soros-ization of Macedonia”. In addition, according to Maricic, the inspection is selectively being sent to organizations that in the past several years had civil initiatives and campaigns that were critical of Gruevski’s government. “Almost all of the organizations were part of the campaign “We Deserve Better” and “We Decide”, and have had activities on informing citizens of their voting rights. Under supervision are organizations who have been working many years with rigorous donors and who until now have had no financial stains”, indicates the Executive Director of the MCET.
“The context in which this event is taking place and the atmosphere of lynch towards the civil society sector that has been imposed by the government, gives us the right to understand this as an orchestrated political pressure on the civil initiative. However, we have nothing to hide and expect for the institutions to act according to the law”, concludes Maricic.
CIVIL Media contacted the State Revenue Office. After speaking with spokesperson Vesna Novakovic on the phone, we sent her an email with questions concerning the financial control that is ongoing in several civil society organizations, asking about the type of control, who ordered for it to be conducted and whether any irregularities have been found in the work of the organizations. At the same time, we requested a comment in regards to the views expressed in the public that this is pressure that follows the speech of the leader of the ruling party.
In the response sent to the editorial of CIVIL Media, it states that the State Revenue Office, in accordance to its legal responsibilities, and irrespective of the political developments in the country, is conducting a regular control of all taxpayers. “In the specific case we have acted upon a request from November 2016 of another state body, which has the authority to initiate an initiative for control of the financial operations. According to Article 9 of the Law on Tax Procedure, the remaining data cannot be the subject of public communication, as it is treated as tax secrecy”, is stated in the reply sent by State Revenue Office spokesperson, Vesna Novakovic.
Otherwise, as our interlocutors from the civil society organizations have pointed out, in which the financial control is currently in progress, the control has still not ended and they have been informed that the inspectors of the State Revenue Office will be visiting them in the coming days as well.