8th December 2021, Skopje – The symbolic painting of a gray installation placed on “Macedonia” square in Skopje today, marked the launch of the “Add Color to the Grey Economy” Campaign, which aims to raise awareness about the consequences of unregistered economic activities on the quality of life of every citizen, as well as bring about their reduction. Campaign is implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance. Minister of Finance, Fatmir Besimi pointed out that last year, Ministry together with its administrative authorities are actively working on the Action Plan on Eradication of Informal Economy in order to raise awareness about the consequences of the grey economy and the need for its reduction.
“Shift from the informal to the formal sector would reduce unfair competition, create conditions for equal competition among businesses, strengthen tax morale and lead to an increase in Gross Domestic Product. This speaks in favour of the importance of taking urgent measures and actions to combat the informal economy. Therefore, the Action Plan on Eradication of Grey Economy covers several priorities: improving the process of measuring, monitoring and detecting the grey economy, stimulating activities for formalization of the grey economy, raising the awareness about the grey economy and strengthening the tax morale, enhancing the inspection services, improving the legislation, as well as implementing measures as regards the Customs Administration, which will also include e-commerce products,” Minister Besimi said.
Grey economy in North Macedonia accounts for approximately one third of GDP, meaning funds less than one third geared towards the public assets financed from the State Budget, being used by every citizen. In other words, if everyone pays taxes and asks for fiscal receipts and invoices, state budget funds higher by one third will be available for the public health sector- more ambulances, more hospital beds, and higher wages for health workers. More funds could be allocated to the education sector – increased number of kindergartens and schools, higher wages for education workers, new equipment in schools. More funds for road infrastructure and environment protection. Color will be added thereto in case of reducing the grey economy.
“Citizens need to be actively involved in fostering the accountability of the Government and the private sector, primarily by using their power as consumers to support the responsible businesses. When citizens make payments without asking for a fiscal receipt, they actually support the grey economy, thus becoming part of the problem. The simplest but most important first step that citizens can take is to change the manner, in which they behave throughout their daily economic interactions. UNDP will continue to work with its partners so as to achieve a deeper understanding of the informal economy, including its mapping, measurement and monitoring, all to the end of implementing adequate policies and solutions to curb the informal economy,” Sanja Bojanic, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative said.
Campaign will also play an educational role, by which citizens could get informed about what the grey economy presents, how they can recognize it and what are the consequences of its support. The crucial message thereof is that every citizen can, to a certain extent, contribute to reducing the informal economy by supporting legal businesses, without avoiding paying taxes on the respective products and services, which give an unfair competitive advantage over the registered businesses. Fiscal receipt as a guarantee for paying the respective tax, is one of the most reliable tools therefor.