портал за стратегиски анализи
  • ФАЗАН - портал за стратегиски анализи - FAZAN
  • ФАЗАН - портал за стратегиски анализи - FAZAN
  • ФАЗАН - портал за стратегиски анализи - FAZAN
  • ФАЗАН - портал за стратегиски анализи - FAZAN
  • ФАЗАН - портал за стратегиски анализи - FAZAN
Optimism about Macedonia's economic prospects
ноември 2012

Valjon Sarachini became Macedonian Economy Minister last July. Previously, he worked for five years at the prestigious University American College in Skopje. Sarachini is an expert in management, having obtained a Master's degree at the same university. In light of the crisis and uncertainty in neighbouring Greece, SETimes talked to Minister Sarachini about the state of the Macedonian economy.

What are the effects of the Greek--and the EU's--economic and financial crises on Macedonia?

Valjon Sarachini: Despite negative developments in Greece and overall in Europe, amid warnings of a new worldwide economic crisis worse than that of 2008, and experiencing blockades on the Greek border due to strikes, Macedonia has so far managed to weather the risks to its economy. We expect growth to somewhat slow down due to Europe's crisis, as the European countries are our biggest trade partners. But our economy and banking system are well prepared for the crisis and we expect growth to overcome the projected rate of 3.5% this year. Industrial production marked growth of 9.2% compared to 2010, showing that the economy has quickly recovered. The demand for Macedonian products abroad has stabilised. If, however, there is a worst case scenario, we are ready to address it with a full range of measures in co-ordination with the business community, just like in 2008.

SETimes: What measures will Macedonia take?

Sarachini: It is very important that we maintain macroeconomic stability. This is agreed and approved by our international partners, such as the World Bank. The new government programme addresses key priority issues, while taking into account the present situation, and focuses on fostering competitiveness. The government closely follows market developments and regularly communicates with the private sector to respond adequately to any challenges, but also follows positive economic growth policies. In the previous phase of the crises, there was a decrease in growth, exports and jobs. However, we promptly introduced anti-crisis measures and recovered fast. Some of the policies include reducing debt abroad and internally, increasing capital investments, revitalising industry and construction, as well as realising new projects in the road and railway infrastructure and in energy. If the external crisis becomes more severe, negatively affecting our economy, we will introduce another package of measures addressing different aspects of the leading businesses.

SETimes: What are Macedonia's economic priorities?

Sarachini: Economic growth. In short, stimulating and diversifying production and exports; promoting investments and innovations, as well as improving the business climate; strengthening the role of SMEs; and reducing energy dependence. Macedonia's prospects for sustainable development lie in promoting knowledge and co-operation, and the entrepreneurial spirit. My goal is to continue to implement the strategic documents and enhance co-operation among the business and scientific communities and the government.

SETimes: How will the full liberalisation of the energy market next year affect Macedonia?

Sarachini: Energy sector activities are regulated by the Energy Law, enacted in February of this year, which transposes 12 directives and three regulations of the EU acquis. Pursuant to the treaty establishing the energy community, all consumers should acquire eligibility status to choose their own electricity and natural gas suppliers beginning in January 2015. The big consumers that are directly connected to the electricity network will remain so. All other consumers of electricity and natural gas -- except households -- will become eligible in the transition period until markets open in mid-2012. In this period, by-laws will be prepared to wrap-up the legal and regulatory framework.

SETimes: Has tourism become a strategic development sector?

Sarachini: Tourism is certainly a growth sector. The total number of tourists increased by 9.1% this year and so has their duration of stay. Consequently, foreign currency inflow in the first half of this year increased by 18.5%. Due to higher demand, tourism-related jobs increased by over a third in the first quarter this year compared to the same period in 2010. A number of measures have already been undertaken such as reducing the VAT from 18% to 5% for the hotel/restaurant services. We will continue subsidising the "organised foreign tourist turnover", increasing a number of charter flights from the Netherlands, Finland and Israel and include promotion flights from the Czech Republic and Russia. A new "Tourism Satellite Account", in partnership with the World Tourism Organisation, will be introduced to determine the exact number of tourists, foreign currency inflow, and to have a better grasp on consumers' needs. We also plan to implement the revised National Strategy for Tourism Development -- improving the quantity and quality of facilities and their ranking, and prepare a study on developing mountain tourism. The government will continue the concept of "joint branding" of Macedonia as a tourist destination and promotion of clips of certain themes or sectors in the world media.

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