6th September 2021, Skopje – Policymakers, representatives of international institutions, civil society, academics, experts, business community, as well as all stakeholders, who could contribute to improving the policy dialogue on economic and financial topics with a national and regional outreach, have been gathered at one place – the First Annual Conference of the Ministry of Finance, taking place on 6th and 7th September in Skopje.
This Conference, which aims to grow into a forum for exchanging ideas, was opened by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Minister of Finance, Fatmir Besimi.
“This Economic Forum is the first Annual Conference of the Ministry of Finance, wherein the issues related to economic recovery and growth beyond COVID, will be addressed. This debate should grow into an arena for debate on economic reforms. This is a new initiative by the Ministry of Finance aiming to facilitate public policy debates on relevant topics for the Republic of North Macedonia and Southeastern Europe – Minister Besimi said at the opening of the Conference.
According to the Minister, what makes this Conference unique and specific is that it is organized and takes place in times of pandemic, amid the largest health and economic crisis of the century, wherein the humanity faced severe losses, with many lives being lost, due to which many our close friends, relatives and colleagues are not among us today, while others were left jobless, with the vulnerable categories being pushed further into poverty, and many businesses being closed.
“We are gathered here today to announce that we are not going to be defeated by COVID. We are part of a global alliance to combat the Coronavirus, thus, today we will talk not only about the recovery itself but also about accelerated growth, as well as sustainable and green development,” Minister of Finance said.
He reiterated that last year, we faced the biggest GDP decline in the last three decades.
“We evidenced a 4.5% decline of GDP in 2020, which would have been 8.7% according to our estimations, if not for the measures being taken. The fiscal stimulus of around 11% of GDP provided for supporting the economy and the health sector, keeping the jobs and protecting the businesses. The measures taken were focused on the vulnerable categories, keeping the jobs and helping businesses survive the crisis. Actions were taken both on the demand and the supply side of the economy. In 2021, two additional packages were adopted with targeted measures, including strong development component, geared towards making investments and increasing the number of employed people all to the end of turning the recovery into a growth” – Minister Besimi said.
He stressed that our response, via policy actions aimed at protecting lives and saving the economy, resulted in a fiscal pressure and debt incurrence, however, we are determined to stay focused on fiscal consolidation and reducing the budget deficit and public debt to 3%, i.e. 60% of GDP as per the fiscal rules.
“We learn from the past, take actions in the present and prepare for the future. We have projected a growth of 4.1% for this year and an average annual growth of 5.4% in the next five years. In order to make sure that this will not remain just a wish, we have prepared Growth Acceleration Financing Plan, geared towards economic recovery beyond COVID, as well as accelerated and sustainable growth, while maintaining fiscal stability by mobilizing capital from the private sector in addition to the funds allocated from the Budget”, Besimi stressed.
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev underlined that the national economy was stable with prospects for growth, adding that after a year, according to today’s official statistical data, we can officially say that the economy exists the recession and begins recovering, as confirmed by our analyses that the economy is stable with prospects for growth.
“According to the statistical data, during the second quarter of the year, positive GDP growth of 13.2% was recorded. In the course of the first half of the year, it will account for 5.6%. This year’s growth has been projected at 4.1%, with export expected to register 10.6% growth and gross investments to pick up by 8%” – Prime Minister Zaev said.
He stressed that we remain committed to increasing the living standard and improving the living conditions in North Macedonia.
“The pandemic has taught us that it is inevitable to unite societies, governments and companies, to adapt to the new reality and design policies focused on building equality, inclusiveness and sustainability of the economies”. He went on by saying that what follows is improved investment and business climate, resilience to shocks, focus on green investments and digitalization, strengthening of the health and education system as a cornerstone for the human capital, strengthening of the national institutional capacities and maintaining fiscal consolidation at the same time.
He announced that the Government economic team is putting continuous and maximum efforts to preparing plans for the future medium-term growth of the country. “In this regard, the 2021-2027 Intervention Plan on Investments covers all investments planned to be launched in the country, also including private investments by domestic and foreign investors. It is a strategic document with precisely defined elements, such as investment value, key investment areas, investment approach, etc. In parallel to the 2021-2027 Intervention Plan on Investments, Growth Acceleration Financing Plan has been prepared, – Prime Minister said.
The essence of the Plan is to finance the recovery of the economy from COVID-19, as well as to support accelerated and sustainable growth, while maintaining fiscal stability via capital mobilizatiion from the private sector in addition to the funds allocated from the Budget and the borrowings. This Plan provides a full picture of the approach in creating legal opportunities for implementing all above-mentioned.
As he emphasized, what the plan defines is precisely set government structure of units and segregation of competences, which will lead to successful implementation. “We are planning to establish Delivery Unit, Monitoring Unit and PIM for the first time, which will provide for timely and complete insight into the priorities, the pace of implementation, the weakness, the obstacles and the most urgent duties. I sincerely believe that this is the way by which we will manage to overcome the institutional weaknesses and strengthen our capacities”, Prime Minister Zaev pointed out.
Conference participants, during the six panel discussions to be held on 6th and 7th September, have a unique opportunity to discuss the creation of macroeconomic policies, public finances, structural reforms, mobilization of private capital, and improvement of the regional cooperation.
The idea for organizing this international conference stems from the commitment of the Ministry of Finance as an institution geared towards promoting and implementing inclusive dialogue with the social stakeholders. The Conference is to lay the foundations and to become one with a tradition and strong influence in the region and Europe.