Skopje, 2nd January 2013 (MIA) – In the past years, unemployment rate was continuously dropping which, according to Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Zoran Stavreski, is due to many measures and reforms being implemented by the Government, and most importantly, as he underlined in an interview for Ekonomski.mk portal, unemployment rate declined in conditions of economic crisis, when unemployment increased in all European countries.

In the interview, he pointed out that unemployment rate was 30.6% in the third quarter in 2012, being the lowest rate in the last eight years and being lower compared to the period before the crisis.

Among the measures and reforms implemented by the Government, aimed at improving the conditions on the labour market, he pointed out the measures for support to liquidity of companies through low and flat taxes, new model on profit tax, which provided for companies to pay 0% profit tax should they not pay dividends, and the reduced social contributions from 32% to 26.5%. In addition, support by the Government to stimulate entrepreneurship and private initiative (above all, extension of credits for starting up own business, formalizing the businesses, as well as reduction of grey economy), active employment measures and policies aimed at persons actively seeking job, policy for attracting foreign direct investments creating jobs, etc., are also significant. All these activities have contributed to mitigating the consequences of the crisis and reducing unemployment rate.

– To be able to properly dimension job creation measures and policies, and thus to properly aim them, it is necessary to have a clear picture on the number of unemployed persons actively seeking job. Thus, by amending the legal regulations, it is possible to separate the right to mandatory health insurance and the requirement to register as unemployed person for acquiring such right. This has contributed to significant reduction of the number of unemployed, Minister Stavreski said.

As regards adoption of 2013 Budget, he said that there were two major threats should it not be adopted and should its financing not be provided for through favourable credits from the World Bank, which would have caused other consequences.

– The first and the most important one is that regular payment of pensions, social welfare, subsidies to farmers, payment of liabilities towards companies, realization of capital investments – construction of roads, schools, hospitals, would have been put into question. In addition, pensions, social welfare and subsidies would not have been increased. Business sector and citizens would have been in a state of nervous tension, which would have affected the general economic activity and budget revenues. Banks would have stopped to finance the state, who would finance a state, if it had not adopted the budget, which would have been one more blow to the liquidity of both the budget and the business sector, Stavreski pointed out.

He went on that the second consequence is that the image of the Republic of Macedonia would have been undermined. When you know that a country cannot adopt its Budget, than you pose the question whether it is capable to reach any political decision at all. This is a bad signal for both foreign investors and credit agencies, as well as for the international financial institutions and the European Commission. Even if we had provided funds from certain bank or under Eurobond, in such circumstances, all of them would have required enormously high interest. According to our estimates, this would have cost Republic of Macedonia more than EUR 84 million, money being wasted, Minister said, adding that all in all, the consequences arising from these two threats are multidimensional: financial, social and political ones and that by adopting the Budget, crisis in the economy was prevented, as well as in the country as a whole.

As for the interview, he rejected the accusations from the opposition that the country is pushed into Greek scenario. The following several facts show who is right: Central government debt accounted for 30.6% of GDP at the end of October 2012. Let me reiterate, the government debt of the Republic of Macedonia amounted to 38.2% of GDP at the end of 2005. The debt of Greece amounts to 175% of GDP. Where is the similarity? Let me remind you that this same SDSM indebted the Republic of Macedonia with EUR 1,545 million during its two terms of offices. In the period 2007-2012, the Government repaid EUR 367.5 million as credits taken during the ruling of SDSM, and in the period 2013-2020, we will repay another EUR 459.1 million, credits also taken during the ruling of SDSM. SDSM during their terms of office, took 7 loans for budget support, the same as the loans granted to our country from the World Bank, and for which they write disgraceful letters, humiliating themselves before the international financial institutions, Minister of Finance pointed out.

Best response to the numerous unfounded critiques from the opposition for the high level of indebtedness of the country, as the Minister said, came from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, positively assessing the stable fiscal policy and the low level of indebtedness of the Republic of Macedonia.

He added that in addition to this, the renowned international credit rating agencies Fitch and Standard and Poor’s did not reduce the credit rating of the Republic of Macedonia, stressing the moderate indebtedness, stable financial sector and the flow of FDI as potential for economic growth in the next medium-term period. In addition, they stated that the Republic of Macedonia is far below the level of indebtedness compared to the countries, which have the same credit rating BB.

In line with the last data published by Eurostat, as the Minister stated in the interview, Republic of Macedonia remains to be the fourth least indebted country in Europe.

Given all these facts, how can anyone see any similarity with Greece, as Stavreski said, it is obvious that SDSM are the only ones that see similarity with Greece, and therefore, they are in isolation as regards this issue.

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