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FEATURE STORY July 18, 2018

North Macedonia’s drive for excellence: shaping and maintaining a state of the art Public Debt Department


Macedonia -Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Freedom Bridge

Photo Credit Thinkstock -Rozah13


  • North Macedonian Government defined accession to the European Union as the highest strategic priority for the country at the beginning of the century, a priority supported by the North Macedonia Country Partnership Strategy 2015-18
  • The country has been on a path of steady transformations including reforms in public debt management resulting in a partnership with the World Bank Treasury – Government Debt and Risk Management (GDRM) Program at the end of 2016
  • With GDRM programs’ support, the small team of dedicated civil servants are shaping a robust public debt management framework in record time, on par with sound practice

North Macedonia, a country of two million people, is defined by its scenic mountains, valleys, rivers and hardworking people. Since the government designated accession to the European Union (EU) as the highest strategic priority for the country in 2005, the country has been restructuring itself steadily to adopt best economic and social practices. Ranked among the top five “reformatory states" in 2009 by the World Bank, North Macedonians have made headway in their quest to bring the country to EU standards. That includes the Macedonian public debt department (PDD), a small team of ten practitioners, who are driven to improve, adopt sound practices, and do it fast.

North Macedonian public debt department finds a trusted partner in the World Bank Treasury to support their efforts for developing their human capital.

North Macedonian PDD requested to join the Government Debt and Risk Management (GDRM) program in November 2016, a World Bank Treasury initiative sponsored by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), that provides technical assistance to middle-income countries (MICs) to improve resilience to financial shocks.

Joint program development

After an assessment, GDRM-PDD joint team agreed on the components they wanted to tackle during the next five years, to bring the Macedonian PDD on par with sound practice. “Six major reform components within a period of five years might seem ambitious, but not for the Macedonian PDD team.” said Rodrigo Cabral, Senior Financial Officer and North Macedonia Task Team Leader, World Bank Treasury. “Typically, countries tackle one component at a time, because of the limited human capacity and having to handle reforms on top of their day-to-day operational work. But with North Macedonia, it is different. There is an understanding within the technical team to improve from within.”

North Macedonia makes progress in record time.

North Macedonia-GDRM joint team started work on the Debt Management Strategy, with a training in January 2017, to build the public debt department’s technical capacity for sound cost and risk analysis.

  • By November of the same year, with further training and just-in-time support from the GDRM team, the North Macedonian PDD updated and published the strategy document.
  • They immediately started work on two other components: amending the public debt management law and improving the domestic market for government securities.
  • With GDRM Program’s support, the PDD is on target with passing the revision of the public debt management law through the parliament by end 2018, a record time for any country to revise primary legislation.
  • The IT component work will also start in 2018, while the joint teams will continue improving the Debt Management Strategy every year until it becomes on par with sound practice.

Renata Davitkova Panceva,  Head of Back Office, Ministry of Finance,  North Macedonia 

How is GDRM Program supporting North Macedonia?

North Macedonia’s drive to shape a state of the art Public Debt Department, and the constant pursuit to build human capital to make the economy more resilient to fiscal shocks will be the legacy of self-driven civil servants in this small but impactful team. And with the World Bank Treasury to support them along this journey, they are making headway in record time.


Ana Todorovska, Head of Front Office, Ministry of Finance, North Macedonia