17th November 2022, Skopje – Investing in human capital in a country is an investment in long-term and sustainable development and a benefit for the whole society. Therefore, investing in people is one of the top priorities of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, with the World Bank being a key partner in attaining them. Manner, in which stronger and more resilient human capital will be created by working together on projects in the three key HC sectors – education, health and social protection, were today’s topics of discussion at the meeting held in the Ministry of Finance, between Minister of Finance, Fatmir Besimi, Minister of Education Jeton Shaqiri, Minister of Health, Bekim Sali, Minister of Social Policy, Jovana Trenchevska, World Bank Human Development Director for Europe and Central Asia Region, Fadia Saadah, and World Bank Country Manager for North Macedonia, Massimiliano Paolucci.

“Under 2022-2024 Government’s Work Program, social inclusion and human capital development are classified as one of the five key priorities of the country. As part of its firm commitment to the human capital agenda, the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia, with technical assistance from the World Bank works on Human Capital Strategy, by which North Macedonia stands out as the first country in the region that, through a strategic document, paves the way to strengthening the human capital”, as pointed out at the meeting.

The Draft Strategy is approved by the Government, being aimed at providing citizens with better living conditions, encouraging faster, more inclusive and sustainable economic growth, and reducing the level of poverty through investments in three key sectors: education, health and social protection.

“Human capital is the most significant factor, playing crucial role in promoting growth and development of a country. Therefore, one of the priorities as regards our policies is scaled up investments in the human capital, i.e. the three sectors: education, health and social protection. Thus, budget funds allocated for these sectors has been increasing from year to year, i.e. from Denar 180.1 billion in 2019 to Denar 220.8 billion in 2022, which are to increase to Denar 235 billion the next year, Minister Besimi pointed out.

He went on that that such investments do not generate effects instantly and in the short run, but that they are rather investments, which are to be beneficial for the future generations and the future country’s growth and development. He thereby also pointed out that despite the present conditions and the fight against the consequences of the energy and the price crisis, the Government remains committed to implementing the reforms in these areas. “These reforms, as he stressed, are a significant aspect in accelerating the growth and exploiting the overall growth potential.

World Bank, as Saadah said, sees numerous advantages to investment in human capital “First, it directly contributes to the well-being of the people in North Macedonia. Second, it builds from a foundation of equality of opportunity. Third, it also helps us to create a more equal distribution of the benefits of development, and finally, it enables the linkages between the various types of investments, taking advantage of the complementarities between human and physical capital, World Bank Human Development Director for Europe and Central Asia Region pointed out

She added that these advantages, as great as they are, do not materialize automatically. “This is where commitment becomes vigorously important, and I am glad to say that the Government of North Macedonia is giving high priority to the human capital agenda”, she said during the meeting.

It was also emphasized that the human capital quality in the country in the 2010-2020 period, improved and that the human capital index picked up from 0.54 to 0.56, however, the implementation of the respective reforms must be further resumed. Thereby, the respective Ministers, Trenchevska, Sali and Shaqiri presented the reforms they are working on, being geared towards enhancing the human capital in the upcoming period.

As for the implementation of this reform, our country is provided with significant support by the World Bank by implementing many projects, thereby also indicating the support for further cooperation in realizing the program goals in these three sectors, all to the end of underpinning the human capital development.

Ambitious social protection reform is carried out via Social Services Improvement Project. Primary Education Improvement Project focuses on improving the quality of learning by improving the learning environment, as well as the health sector via the Emergency COVID-19 Response Project, which helped strengthening the health system in coping with the health crisis. There are new ongoing projects in the field of health, focused on primary care, followed by project on secondary education quality, as well as additional financing for the Social Services Improvement Project.

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