Summary: Institutions Can Refuse Free Access to Information to Protect Their Commercial Interests
|Request sent to||Central Register of Macedonia (Click here)|
|Outcome of request||Information refused.|
|Time taken to respond||5 working days to receive a postal response. However, they phoned us same day we sent the request. (Deadline is 30 calendar days)|
|Reason for refusal||Must pay to access the information.
Protection of commercial interests.
On 22 July 2013 an initial request was sent by our partner in Macedonia, Zaklina Zafirova, to the Central Register, asking them for a copy of the full Macedonian company database. Legally, Macedonia is bound to answer requests for information within 30 calendar days.
The same day a member of the Central Register called Zaklina to explain that information about registered companies was not accessible for free and that in order to access a company profile, you must pay a fee of 256 denars (4,16 euros).
On 29 July 2013, a week later, a formal response arrived by post, which denied us access to the database, based on the exception in the Macedonian access to information law which allows state institutions to refuse free access to information if their commercial interest are endangered. We were told that the Macedonian register was financed through the fees paid by those that register and access information, and that it did not receive funding from the State budget.
On 1 August 2013, we appealed against this decision to the Commission for the Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information, arguing that the Central Register was bound by the access to information law which stipulated that access to public information should be free of charge and that, if fees are required, they should only amount to the actual cost of reproducing the information. This principle is in line with the international standards set by the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents.
The Commission for the Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information let us know informally that the Director was on holiday and that their decision would be delivered to us by the end of August.
On 6 September 2013, the Commission’s decision was delivered via post. The Commission for the Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information determined that the Central Register was right to reject our request on the basis of the exception in the access to information law.
The Commission also established that, when there is a Tariff list based upon the Law, as in this particular case, the specific Tariff list should be implemented instead of the Law on free access to public information.
In order to find out how much the full database would cost to access, we informally asked the Central Register for the number of companies registered. They responded that in order to access that information, we would have to pay €10. However, in the meantime, the same request had been made to the Macedonian Revenue Office, which informed us that at that time, there were 76.707 legal entities that had declared some kind of activity to the Revenue Office and which were listed as tax payers. They highlighted that this number is continuously evolving. Using this data, we figured out that if each company file costs 5€ to access, then accessing 76,067 company files would cost over 380,000€ in total.
Accessing the Macedonian Company Register
|Information available||On the website of the Macedonian company register (http://www.crm.com.mk/DS/), you must pay for access to general information about each company:
Name of owner, ID number of the company, company address, members of the board, managing director, founding capital, export activities, shareholder company, past information about the company (but no information about the shareholders). You can also find out if a company has activities in other branches or connections to other firms.
Historical information is more expensive.
|Provision for public access||To access information about a company you need to request it from the Central Register and pay.To find out who the shareholders are (over 5%) you need to check the Central Securities Depository, which is freely available online: www.cdhv.mk|
|Cost per record||256 denars (5€) to get the current profile of a company.
It costs 10€ simply to know how many legal entities are found in the Central register.
It costs 20€ for access to historical information about a company.
|Cost for whole database||According to the Macedonian Revenue Office, there are roughly 76,071 legal entities registered as tax-paying organisations, which would mean that the register would cost at least €380,355 to access fully.|
Macedonia´s Right to Information (RTI) Rating (Click here)
Macedonia´s Law on Free Access to Information of Public Character (Click here)
Macedonian company register (Click here)