Skopje, 13th February 2015 (MIA) – Unemployment in the Republic of Macedonia experiences a positive trend and it is declining. Unemployment rate will drop to 22% by 2018. Not only the measures the Macedonian Government has been undertaking since 2006, but also the recent measures referring to freelancers and employment of volunteers, will contribute thereto.

This was announced by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Zoran Stavreski, in an interview given for Sitel Television.

– We commenced 2006 with 38% unemployment. As a Government, we have managed to reduce the unemployment from 38% to 28% by undertaking number of measures – direct and indirect, by extending support to the business sector in the form of cheap loans, by realizing numerous infrastructure projects in the construction sector and the industry providing for job creation, by conducting other policies, as well as the free economic zones. Percentages as such might mean nothing to somebody, however, we are talking about hundreds of thousands of jobs, hundreds of thousands of citizens have found job, hundreds of thousands of citizens receive salary, hundreds of thousands of families exist with that salary, they can educate their children and send them to school, at university, resolve their housing issue, Minister Stavreski said.

According to him, it is a matter of citizens’ fate and the Government has succeeded in helping lot of people find job in this process. This is the basis how to continue fighting unemployment in future. – Thus, by attracting new investments, providing for better conditions for the companies and the recent measures for the freelancers or the persons engaged as volunteers, we will additionally provide for attaining the goal, that being reducing unemployment to around 22% by the end of our term of office in 2018, Minister of Finance pointed out.

As for the solution regarding the transformation of the employment of the so-far volunteers and those being engaged on the basis of a contractual agreement, the Minister underlined that is was a result of the meetings with the citizens, as well as that the solution was fair for all these persons.

– It is not right for a person to be engaged for seven, eight, nine years on the basis of a volunteer agreement or contractual agreement. We have inherited this problem, it is a problem which exists for probably more than 10 years in some institutions, however, we have believed that the conditions needed to be created, to find financial possibilities to realize it, hence we have found a model to sustain the employments, because it will cause fiscal implications. Therefore, 35% of these persons will be immediately employed, 35% will be employed by the end of 2015 with fiscal implications starting 2016 and the rest of them will be employed by September 2016. However, they all feel uncertainty now, Minister Stavreski said, adding that all those who were volunteers for at least three months by 30th November 2014 inclusive, fall within the group whose employment issue would be resolved.

As he said, this is good for the institutions as well, since many of these persons were of essential importance for the performance of the activities and the functions of some institutions. – There are nurses and nursing staff, who are volunteers, performing surgery. There are child carers in kindergartens looking after the children with full responsibility arising from the job itself, but were engaged on the basis of contractual agreement or as volunteers. This is not right. We, as a Government, have found financial strength in these difficult times, when it is not that simple to ensure full-time employment for these people, for those volunteering so far to receive higher salary, and all of them to have health and pension insurance and safety arising from full-time employment, Stavreski said.

According to him, the Government is confident that this solution, as well as the solution for the freelancers, are the right ones, both aiming at the threshold for the freelancers, following the accession of Republic of Macedonia into the EU, to be at the level of the minimum salary.

– Having regard of the circumstances that the general income level in the Republic of Macedonia is still lower compared to the other countries, and on the basis of the discussions with number of affected citizens, we, as a Government, are obliged to accept substantiated arguments and to revise the solutions. We are doing that by having this solution, which has significantly improved the requirements for both categories, Stavreski pointed out.

He explained that the first category includes persons who are employed and who, taking into account the higher ceiling of Denar 21,300, will not pay the contributions at all for an income up to this ceiling, while if the persons generate income higher than Denar 21,300, let’s say, Denar 25,000, contributions will be paid on the difference thereto.

The second group, as he said, includes persons who are unemployed, but generate income and the ceiling in this case is the minimum salary, because more people will thus be provided social, health and pension insurance.

Persons already employed are provided a higher ceiling, because they already pay health and pension insurance on the basic salary.

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