VIDEO INTERVIEW | Despotovski: We must put positive pressure on the companies in the zones to raise wages
For a society to have development and growth, it is necessary to develop health, education and social policy, and the development of industry is a basic and necessary condition. Macedonia is a medium developed country and with the policy of the development of technological industrial development zones (TIZ) it has a chance to improve the quality of life of its citizens, to change the structure of employees in the public and private sectors, to gain knowledge and technology and to reduce the pace of people leaving the country.
- Macedonia is in the group of medium developed countries and our goal is to make the growth that is happening further more intense, on the one hand we also see the development in the growth of areas such as education, culture and social policy in one word, civilizational yes we are progressing, on the other hand. Our goal or our aspiration is what the EU-wide average is to reach. In one period, there was no development in the country or it almost stagnated in such a way that others progressed, and we automatically went backwards. Today we can see that we are walking well and correctly. In my approach, what is a weakness can be turned into an advantage. Namely, I am often asked what Macedonia can offer as a small country? The answer is: Being small on the other hand makes us more flexible. One situation is current these days and it ended positively for us where we were in competition with Serbia and Croatia, we got the big Taiwanese company Jageo as a partner. It is a giant company in electronics. The process lasted for a year during a period when we must constantly highlight our advantages over other countries. In the end, in the perception of our future partner, we have managed to present our weaknesses as good, and the good ones to be emphasized significantly. For example, it is a fact that our membership in NATO is a great advantage over Serbia, as well as our security and stability in the region. This was pointed out by the director of the Directorate for Technological Industrial Development Zones - TIRZ, Jovan Despotovski, in the program "Morning Press" on Slobodna TV.
It is evident that Macedonia's membership in NATO in the long term influences and contributes to the improvement of the country's development, first of all in the economy, and then in other areas. Foreign companies are aware that the security and stability of the country is a prerequisite for investing their own capital, and NATO membership for the country is an advantage compared to another country that is not a member of the Alliance. After the change in the state's status in this area, the politicians also changed their rhetoric when they advocate the arrival of foreign capital. Namely, in the previous period politicians often said that Macedonia has a cheap and educated labor force and that should be our greatest advantage.
- They have never heard such a statement from me. I want to say that I am a responsible person towards those who appointed me and those for whom I work. 15 years ago when the unemployment rate was around 25%, there might have been some economic justification to invite companies that are labor intensive, meaning they generate little added value, but still pay a salary. However, that time is long gone, and we are now talking about an unemployment rate that is in the single digits. Companies have a real need for labor and the question is really what is the unemployment rate now. We must put positive pressure on companies, such as zone users, to raise wages. At the beginning of my mandate, I stated that salaries are low and that this situation must change. Last year, 3,5 billion denars were recorded in the budget from the zones, and the state paid about 800 million denars. What we give as support to the companies in the zones returns significantly to the budget. The growth trend in the zones continues and we expect 500 new jobs. We concluded contracts for the employment of 5000 people in the next 5 years. The number of employees is characteristic and what this means is that half of Macedonian exports are generated by these 17 thousand employees in the zones. What is available in the zones as technology generates a significant volume of activities - pointed out Jovan Despotovski, director of TIRZ.
Watch the entire conversation with TIRZ director Jovan Despotovski in the video: