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PRESS RELEASE November 29, 2018

“Seizing a Brighter Future for All”: World Bank Systematic Country Diagnostic for FYR Macedonia

SKOPJE, November 29, 2018 – The Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) of Macedonia has considerable potential to accelerate economic growth, reduce poverty, and promote improvements in the living standards of its citizens, especially for those at the bottom of the income distribution, states a new World Bank report released today. To achieve this, the report says, the country needs to exploit its competitive advantages, including a strategic location and openness to trade and investment, while addressing a range of pressing challenges and carefully managing risks.

Seizing a Brighter Future for All is a Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD), an analytical work that reviews FYR Macedonia’s progress over the 27 years since its independence, assessing both barriers and opportunities for inclusive and sustainable growth, and identifying policy priorities to support the country’s development.

“Increasing the productivity of the economy, enhancing job opportunities for all, and achieving fiscal, social, and environmental sustainability would allow FYR Macedonia to maximize the benefits from EU integration and close the income gap with Europe, with more and better-paid jobs for its citizens”, says Linda Van Gelder, World Bank Regional Director for the Western Balkans.

The SCD identifies three complementary pathways for FYR Macedonia to leverage new opportunities to help the country overcome challenges.

The first pathway is to foster a more dynamic and competitive private sector. This pathway digs into the specific challenges and opportunities that relate to creating a globally-integrated private sector that creates more and more-productive jobs. The second pathway is to invest in people to build a competitive and adaptive labor force, and to close opportunity gaps. This pathway looks at the challenges and opportunities to promote social inclusion by improving education and health outcomes and shielding the poor and vulnerable from shocks. And the third pathway is to achieve economic, social, and environmental sustainability through effective governance, fiscal prudence, and enhanced environmental management for resilience to natural hazards and climate change.

The SCD also identifies policy priorities to help FYR Macedonia achieve faster, more inclusive, and sustainable growth. The Diagnostic identifies 10 priority areas for reform, as well as specific actions to take in each of these priority areas. These actions are intended to have a positive impact on at least one of the pathways identified and often impact several. Topping this list, based on expected impact, is the need for reforms that can strengthen the rule of law, endow all people with relevant skills, and improve the ability of local firms to compete globally.

“The success of FYR Macedonia’s reforms to address all the priority areas identified will depend on its ability to act boldly and hold to a steady reform course. A shared political vision and public awareness will ensure that day-to-day politics does not dilute reform momentum,” says Marco Hernandez, co-author of the SCD. “It is ambitious but realistic to think that in the coming decades, through these reforms, the country can build a robust middle-class society having equalized opportunities for all citizens, regardless of their location, gender, ethnicity, age, or other personal characteristic,” adds Cesar Cancho, also co-author of the SCD.

During the preparation of the report, the SCD team consulted various stakeholders, including government officials, academia, civil society groups, private sector representatives, and development partners in various regions of FYR Macedonia to guide identification of binding constraints and successful experiences of growth and inclusion in the country. Part of the consultation process included an open call for papers, inviting young Macedonian researches to submit their ideas in a range of development areas.

The Systematic Country Diagnostic will underpin the new Country Partnership Framework (CPF), which will guide the World Bank Group support for the country over the next 4 years.

For more information on the World Bank’s work in the country, please visit:

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Kym Smithies
Anita Bozinovska