30th April 2020, Skopje – World Bank support for the Republic of North Macedonia for dealing with the consequences from Covid-19 crisis, will amount to around EUR 140 million. Part of the funds will be intended for new project – Fast-Track Project aimed at fighting against Covid-19 amounting to about EUR 90 million, while the remaining EUR 50 million will be intended for the measure – financial support of Denar 14,500 per employee for employers and persons performing independent activity. This was discussed within the virtual IMF and WB Spring Meetings at the meeting with the Vice President for the Europe and Central Asia region of the World Bank Cyril Muller with Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Radmila Sekerinska, Vice Prime Minister for Economy Mila Carovska, Governor of the National Bank Anita Angelovska – Bezoska and the Minister of Finance Nina Angelovska.
The meeting was also attended by the successor of Miller, Anna Bjerde, who will take office as of 1st May, after his term of office ends.
The effects of the global Covid-19 crisis on the Macedonian economy were presented in details, and the economic measures for dealing with the shock of the pandemic were also considered during the discussions. The World Bank positively assesses the measures taken by the Government and the National Bank within their competencies, which are considered to be timely and targeted.
Focus was also put on the financial system stability, whereby it was again emphasized that this should remain a priority further on. In this light, the activities and the measures of the National Bank related to the stability of the banking system, which is crucial for maintaining and strengthening the overall financial stability, were discussed separately. The measures taken so far are considered as an additional guarantee that the stability will be preserved, and what is especially important is that the system has the capacity to deal with the shock, which is a result of the prudent regulations, being to a great extent harmonized with the European regulations.
The appropriate response of policymakers to the challenges caused by Covid-19 crisis is a significant signal for the support the World Bank provides to North Macedonia. EUR 50 million provided by World Bank, will be used for supporting the measure, by which financial support of Denar 14,500 per employee will be provided for payment of wages in April and May. Applying for this measure commences as of the beginning of May. Apart from the financial support, the World Bank also provided best advice for the measure, while the recommendations based on technical analyses, experience from previous crises of this magnitude, but also incorporating the feedback received in consultations with the private sector, including in North Macedonia, were incorporated into the general framework adopted by the Government.
Fast-Track Project against the consequences from Covid-19 crisis, amounting to EUR 90 million comprises two components. The first component for urgent response refers to strengthening health capacities by providing increased testing capacity, technical expertise, laboratory equipment, protective equipment, medical supplies and equipment, renovation of health facilities, development of systems to ensure timely detection of cases and monitoring of contacts of suspects, in accordance with the guidelines of the World Health Organization, as well as by financing the health insurance contribution for vulnerable users. The second component for households’ support refers to providing support for transfers for vulnerable households affected by the effects of Covid -19 and pecuniary allowance for those who have lost their jobs as a result of the crisis.
During the meeting, the projections from the latest Regional Economic Report of the World Bank were reviewed, according to which the economies of the Western Balkans are expected to experience slow down ranging between -3% and -5.6%. According to the World Bank, the economy of North Macedonia will record the smallest slowdown ranging between -1.4% and -3.2%.