23rd November 2023, Skopje – Government of the Republic of North Macedonia commenced the activities for preparing the reform agenda on the Growth Plan for the Western Balkans. First bilateral meeting took place in Brussels yesterday, whereby the delegation headed by Minister of Finance, Fatmi Besimi presented the reform activities.

“Plan incorporates four key areas: integration of the EU Single Market, regional cooperation, fundamental reforms related to observance of basis rights and rule of law and manner of financing. Reform agenda also incorporates investment activities, which are expected to be supported under both this Plan and the existing EU instruments. Moreover, additional projects have been defined in our reform agenda”, Minister Besimi said for MIA.

As he pointed out, these additional priorities pertain to good governance, public administration reforms and public finance support, followed by business climate reforms and informal economy management, human capital development and matching our educational system, trainings and skills with the labor market needs, energy and green transition, as well as process digitalization.

“First priority covers good governance, public administration reforms and public finance support. Primary objective is creating institutions, which function efficiently in favor of the citizens and the business sectors, increasing professionalism, responsibility, transparency and efficiency of public services and the public sector, regardless of whether it is a matter of the public administration or the policymakers”, Besimi pointed out.

Second area covering reforms as regards business climate and informal economy pertains to reforms in support of boosted competitiveness of domestic economy, access to funds for small- and medium-sized enterprise, incorporation of our companies in the global supply chains, access to the European market, as well as informal economy reduction.

Minister clarified that as regards informal economy reduction and boosted competitiveness, agriculture is also covered, given its possibilities and potential to grow, all to the end of reducing the informal economy, as well as more efficiently using the agricultural land and the funds provided as support for the farmers.

Third priority area covers human capital development, as well as matching our education, trainings and skills with the labor market needs.

Energy and green transition are the next priority area, pertaining to reduced usage of fossil fuels, i.e. moving on to renewable energy sources, followed by increased energy efficiency and diversification of the energy supply sources, all to the end of strengthening the energy independence and safety, as well as increasing domestic capacities and reducing the dependence on only one source of energy.

In addition, a special horizontal area covered under the agenda is the digitization process, or digitalization of the overall system.

Our country and other Western Balkan countries should submit the reform concepts to the European Commission by 6th December, which should be assessed and accepted thereby. Afterwards, the concepts will be submitted to the Council of the European Union, which will be discussed at the EU – Western Balkans Summit. Overall reform agenda should be completed by the beginning of the second quarter of 2024, to be followed by the actual reform implementation as per the set dynamics and the payment of funds in support of their implementation.

Under the Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, financial assistance is made available to the countries in the region, worth EUR 6 billion, EUR 2 billion out of which as grant and EUR 4 billion as loans. EUR 3 billion out of the total amount is intended for budget support pertaining to the reforms and the other EUR 3 billion is geared towards supporting the investment projects. Amount ranging between EUR 800 and EUR 800 will be made available to Republic of North Macedonia. Payment will be made twice a year, which will be conditioned by the reform agenda implementation.

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