A court in Serbia Tuesday sentenced a former mayor to more than four years in prison for ordering an arson attack on the home of a journalist who was investigating corruption.

Ex-mayor convicted over arson on journalist’s home

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A court in Serbia Tuesday sentenced a former mayor to more than four years in prison for ordering an arson attack on the home of a journalist who was investigating corruption.

The verdict is a rare case of justice delivered for journalists who have faced violence and threats in the Balkan state, where press freedoms are withering.

Dragoljub Simonovic, the former mayor of Grocka, outside Belgrade, and a member of the ruling SNS party, was found guilty of ordering the attack on the house of corruption reporter Milan Jovanovic in December 2018.

He was sentenced to four years and three months in jail, a spokesman for the court in Belgrade told AFP.

He said the man who threw the Molotov cocktail, Aleksandar Marinkovic, received the same sentence, but in absentia.

Jovanovic, who says he was targeted for investigating graft cases linked to the mayor, was at home with his wife at the time of the attack but managed to escape through a window.

“I hope that this verdict will be the harbinger of more media freedom in Serbia,” he told AFP, adding that he was “satisfied” with the ruling.

Serbia is under heavy pressure to improve press freedoms and safety for journalists in order to move forward with its dreams of joining the EU.

But progress has been slow in a country where reporters have reason to fear for their lives, especially those investigating crime and corruption.

In its last report, the EU said that “cases of threats, intimidation and violence against journalists are still a source of serious concern”. Agence France-Presse

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POLITIKO / Across the Nation

POLITIKO / Latest News

House panel OKs 10-year extension requiring banks to loan funds to MSMEs

By Billy Begas

The House Committees on Appropriation and on Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise Development have approved the measure seeking to extend for 10 years the law mandating banks to allocate 10 percent of its loanable funds to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

The still unnumbered measure, authored by Deputy Speaker Bro. Eddie Villanueva and CIBAC Rep. Domingo Rivera seeks to amend the Magna Carta for Small Enterprises (Republic Act 6577).

Under the law, all lending institutions are mandated to set aside at least eight percent for Micro and Small Enterprises and at least two percent for Medium Enterprises their total loan portfolio. The provision lapsed in 2018.

Villanueva said based on data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, as of March 2019, banks allocate a meager 2.72 percent of their loan portfolio to micro and small enterprises and 4.19 percent to medium enterprises.

“We owe our MSME sector a great deal. This bill is for them; karapat-dapat sila. It is only apt that we invest in them by ensuring availability of access to credit and government assistance and programs. They are our economy’s unsung heroes, comprising 99% of firms in our economy,” said Villanueva.

Other significant provisions of the proposals are as follows:

– National Government shall allocate at least 10% of its procurement needs to eligible MSMEs;

– Entitlement of registered MSMEs to 20% discount on shipping, delivery fees, mailing, freight, and other similar services for products and raw materials provided by either public or private

– 20% of total rentable spaces of private malls allocated for MSMEs at a 20% discount on rental payment;

-At least one percent of the total space available in all government buildings, structures, and open areas allotted for selling area of MSMEs

-At least 0.5 percent for every 5,000 square meters in private malls, supermarkets, shopping centers, commercial selling establishments, structures, or areas allotted for selling area to MSME stores



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