Salaries in Eastern Macedonia are 9,000 denars lower than in Skopje
A worker in Eastern Macedonia has 40 percent lower salary than one in Western Macedonia, and 60 percent lower compared to a worker in Skopje. This is one of the worst disparities in salaries in Europe
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The average salary in Eastern Macedonia in 2013 was 16.175 MKD which is 6.000 MKD less than in Western Macedonia and even 9.000 MKD less than Skopje region, showed the analysis by Inbox 7. Such disparities in paying average salaries create huge differences in the standard of citizens and accelerate migration processes in the country.
These huge differences in pay can best be seen through the life story of Sasko Stamenkov from Stip, who goes to work in Skopje every Monday morning and returns on Friday.
“I used to work in a textile industry in Stip and had 12.000 MKD salary. Two years ago I moved to Skopje, I work as a house painter and earn twice as much”, says Stamenkov.
He adds that it is better to pay rent in Skopje and travel than work in Stip and earn 200 Euros.
Vesna D. from Kumanovo has similar math. She used to work as a hairdresser at home, but because of the lack of money and unemployment she gave up and now she works in Skopje and travels daily.
“A bridal hairstyle in Skopje costs up to 3.000 MKD, while in Kumanovo 1.500 MKD. In Kumanovo people have no money, so that is why there is no work, and the cost of services is much lower”, says our interlocutor.
The main reason for this situation by Gligor Ivanovski, economic analyst from Stip is underdevelopment.
“The western part of Macedonia, Skopje, has higher cash flows and salaries are higher. There are many state and financial institutions whose employees have higher incomes than the state average. In Eastern Macedonia textile and agriculture dominate, which are sectors with very low salaries”, says Ivanovski.
He adds that other regions have a leading capacity which means a lot for the economy – such as TPP Bitola and Silmak from Tetovo.
Infrastructure is the main problem
Eastern Macedonia has almost no road and rail infrastructure. There is only one railway track from Veles to Kocani, of 70 kilometers, and it is in very poor condition. There are only a dozen kilometers pipeline in Strumica and a route of the pipeline of which Kumanovo uses little, and that is it.
In the economy the ratio is known that every denar invested in infrastructure returns three times more, says Ivanovski adding that businesses require cheap energy and rapid flow of people and goods.
This need for infrastructure development has long been located by the Centers for development of the three regions in Eastern Macedonia.
Mladen Protic, head of the Centre for Development of Northeast Planning Region (Kumanovo) says that it is necessary to develop infrastructure.
“In rural areas in our country there is almost no water and sewer infrastructure. When we have a good infrastructure, the region will be recognized as a good place to invest and create new jobs, and this will put pressure to raise salaries and the standard of the citizens”, said Protic.
Similar are the requirements and vision for development of the Southeast (Strumica) region. There, according to , head of the Centre for Development of Southeast Region, the difference between municipalities with developed infrastructure and those which do not have one is huge.
“Infrastructure is the foundation and platform for development of all other economic factors in a region. The best example of development in my region is Gevgelija. It has a highway, a railway which connects the town with Skopje and Thessaloniki Port. This municipality has the lowest unemployment and the highest salaries”, says Gjurkova.
She adds that every investor first sees the location connection with transport corridors through roads, railways, airports and ports.
Tax exemptions for faster development of the regions
An additional measure that can encourage economic development in depressed areas is tax exemption for disadvantaged areas, which would direct both foreign and domestic investors to invest in those regions.
According to Goran Stojanovski, Master of Economics from Kocani, this measure will contribute more companies to invest in Eastern Macedonia.
“If you have specific exemptions in the payment of taxes in depressed areas, companies will shift some of the businesses in these areas, even fictitiously to get salaries. Municipality and other institutions will benefit from it”, says Stojanovski.
Gligor Ivanovski has a similar opinion.
“Such a measure would mean encouragement for development of underdeveloped regions, so relocation of certain institutions from Skopje to Eastern Macedonia should be considered, if we want more balanced development”, said Ivanovski.
He adds that because of the attractiveness, now some of the companies operating in Eastern Macedonia have headquarters in Skopje and it should be vice versa.
Region: Macedonia with the largest disparity in salaries
Macedonia has the largest disparities in salaries relative to other countries in the region. When you divide the average salary in the region with the highest salary and with the lowest salary, you get a percentage disparity.