Proskorykova, World bank: Macedonia need to do more, but has a bright future
I think that Macedonian future is bright and connected with EU and our strategical goal is to support, Macedonian integration in European union
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Ladies and gentlemen’s good afternoon we are here at the World Bank offices in Skopje and we are going to have an interview with Ms.Tatiana Proskorykova Country manager for Skopje.
Inbox7: First question that l would like to ask you is about the current economic situation in Macedonia, in the World Bank terms how poor is in fact our country?
Ms. Proskorykova: Well in the World Bank terms Macedonia is not at all a poor country, we consider it a middle income country and higher middle income country. So globally speaking Macedonia is doing quite well, in the region of South East Europe Macedonia has about &4800 per capita in national income and that puts Macedonia just behinds Serbia and Montenegro but ahead of countries like Albania, Kosovo and BiH, so its in the middle of the park, in the sub region, but of course Macedonia wants to join the EU and compare to the EU Macedonia still has ways to go and has been converging in terms of incomes in 2002 the national income of Macedonia per capital was 25% of the average EU income and by 2009 it has reached 36%. But as you see it, it still has time to develop.
Inbox7: The public expenditures that our government makes, how satisfied are you with the implementation of the advisable programs that you as a World Bank offer to our government?
Ms.Proskorykova: Our programs in Macedonia has been implemented really well, we have just concluded a country partnership strategy which finished this summer and we have issued a new evaluation report of that strategy its in our web site is both in English and Macedonian and I invite you to read it. But the conclusion of our report is that the strategy has been successful and all of the intervention that we have financed are reaching their objectives or have reached their objectives and in that sense we are very satisfied with our relationship and we have now developed a new strategy which has recently been discussed without board earlier this month and we plan to continue our cooperation with the government of Macedonia.
Inbox7: Our government has stated that they are seeing a rising in the economy for this upcoming year and l would like your view in how true is this in fact and according to your observation how does Macedonia stands in the economy development considering all the debts that actually our government owns?
WB: We agree with the government that the economy is growing, we think that by the end of the year the growth will be about 3.3% and in 2015 we estimate the growths to be 3.50% and of course there are risks to this outlook and in particular growth in the euro zone dose not pick up it may effect growth in Macedonia, however so far due to large programs of public investments and also to success of the foreign direct investments in Macedonia the growth has been a fairly robust therefore we think that the country will grow in the immediate term.
Inbox7: In the country partnership strategy report for 2011-2014 the economic development has been seen as a key achievement for our country. Do you think that implementation of the projects that our governments are constantly announcing and promoting will secure a stable social living for the citizens of Macedonia?
WB: As l mentioned we joist closed that strategy that you are just referring to and that strategy was fairly successful and it did result in support for the growth of Macedonian economy, but getting to your question and l think you are asking whether the welfare of the people will improve thanks to that we see this questions in two parts. First of all we think that the welfare of the people to improve the country needs to grow and in that sense we are supportive of the governments programs of growth through competitiveness and in fact this is the first pillar of our new strategy it’s called “Growth through competitiveness” and we are focusing in areas such as supportive for business development, stable microeconomic environment and infrastructure ti support economic growth and competiveness but we also believe that growth in itself its not going to be solved automatically because more efforts need to be made in order to make growth more inclusive and for this we believe that the most important thing to do is to create more and better jobs for the people in Macedonia because this is the mechanism from which people can benefit from economic growth and this is the second pillar of our strategy its skills and inclusion and we think that we need to focus on better skills so that the educational system should be produced skills which are demanded in the labor so that people can get better jobs and that the quality of public services should improve and we are focus on valuable groups through the conditional cash projects which we have with the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy but also through municipality infrastructure projects we are focus on the basic infrastructure throughout the country.
Inbox7: You just mentioned some of the projects that you are already working at in cooperation with the government, however l would like to ask you if the World Bank has any concrete projects to implement in the rural areas of Macedonia and do you foresee a closer cooperation with our government in this section?
WB: In fact we do. The project that l just mentioned the municipal infrastructure project it’s a 75 million loan from the world bank which has been in implementation for a while and we are in the process of approving the additional financing from the European commission which will open a separate window under this operation which will e focused exclusively in the rural areas and it will provide thanks to IPA financing it will provide grant funding to rural municipalities but also to rural parts of mixed municipalities to address the key infrastructure needs and one of the things that I would like to highlight is that the project not only finance infrastructure itself but it will also help municipalities to think about what are their priorities and to pick better investments
Inbox7: The World Bank has reported that the youth unemployment in Macedonia is around 50% which is a very high number for a small country like us. I would like to know if there are any planed concrete projects for the youth unemployment by the World Bank in Macedonia?
WB: Indeed l thin that this is a very big challenge but not just for Macedonia but every country in the region is struggling for the youth unemployment. We are focusing in two specific interventions in this area but before l mentioned them let me tell you that because we support growth and competitiveness and inclusion and now our overreaching goals of the strategy is to provide more and better jobs to all people in Macedonia and its obviously include youth and in some sense everything that we do should benefit the youth. However we have to specific intervention and one is the skill and innovation project which has just started implantation and as I Mentioned this project will try and link the education system the university, the vocational schools, to the private business and to the potential employers so that the youth people are trained for the skills that labor market demands and therefore they have better chances of getting a job. As part of our transitional cash transfer with the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy we are supporting a pilot of intervention for youth jobs for the youth and these are focus specifically on people who are very vulnerable to help receipts of social assistance who are very vulnerable people in Macedonia to transition the labor market.
Inbox7: You already mentioned in your answer what kind of future is waiting Macedonia however for our last question l would like to us for a more concrete answer what kind of future is await for us?
World Bank: I think that the future of Macedonia is bright and l think that it is linked to the membership in the EU and in fact the cross cutting theme of our strategy is support for EU integration for Macedonia. More broadly l think that the future of Macedonia is a sustain growth and inclusions growth should be based on greater emphasis on the private sector development. Until now the engine of growth of Macedonia has been public investment, and it has served the country well and it has helped the country over the crises of recent years quite well. But in the future the sustainable growth will have to focus on creating better conditions for private business and for local businesses to take advantage of the foreign direct investment that has already come to Macedonia and by integration to global production change.
Thank you very much for your time.
We just followed an interview with country manager for Skopje Ms. Tatian Proskurikova from the World Bank offices. Thank you for being with us.