Friday, September 22, 2006

Gruevski: It's high time Macedonia to become economic tiger

It's high time Macedonia to become a new economic tiger in the footsteps of Ireland and Slovakia, and the country is committed to doing so through assistance of all sectors in our society, said Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

PM Gruevski staged a working breakfast Thursday with representatives of business community in Macedonia. In his address to members of the Association of Chambers of Commerce, Gruevski reiterated government' determination to press ahead with comprehensive reform agenda, which would significantly improve the situation in private sector.

PM Gruevski presented nine priorities set out in the economic programme of the new government. These priorities won support by the members of the Association of Chambers of Commerce.

In the first place, PM Gruevski emphasized the importance of political stability in the country, as a main prerequisite for establishing economic stability.

Next on the list of government's priorities is tax reform. Gruevski unveiled tax cuts which will ease pressure on taxpayers, and facilitation in tax paying procedures. The government plans to introduce a flat rate income tax and tax cuts in early 2007, which will pave the way to introduction of 10% single tax, the lowest in Europe.

Improvement of infrastructure is 3rd priority of the new government. Gruevski attached high significance to Corridors 8 and 10 and the possibility to grant concession. Renovation and reform of railways and airports is necessary, including timely liberalization of telecommunications.

Human resources development is also high on the agenda of the new government. He underscored the need for alterations in education sector, adding that the government will boost investments in research activities and innovations.

Government's fifth priority is to assist effective and transparent workflow of private sector, Gruevski said, adding that corruption is main hurdle that needs to be tackled. The government, through assistance from USAID, is drafting a strategy to probe the work of courts, customs administration, political party funding etc.

The right to immovable assets is also high on the economic agenda, in particular the real estate registration and confidence building in Cadastral Office.

Labor market is among government's priorities, Gruevski said, adding that the government plans salary tax cuts. He also held out a promise of more flexible implementation of job contracts and higher flexibility in the course of job creation and layoffs.

Government prioritizes better functioning of courts, including new legislation which will shortcut the time required to start a business and acquire permission. He hinted at the possibility to launch the so-called regulatory guillotine - a new tool to assist countries in rapid regulatory simplification - which proved quite fruitful in some neighboring countries.

Improvement of financial sector is the 9th priority of the new government. Gruevski unveiled consolidation of banking system and entry of top foreign banks.

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