Politics in focus, NATO membership, the uncertainty of getting a date to start negotiations with the EU, elections every year, regular, early elections, party squabbles, corruption, deep polarization in society are what we leave behind. The general picture is that politics is always ahead of the economy, which greatly complicates the already complex situation in the country, where the principle of professionalism and meritocracy seems to be neglected in institutions. President of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce of Macedonia, Danela Arsovska, points out that if this continues, daily political disagreements of stakeholders will shape our lifestyle and negatively impact everyday life rather than devote ourselves to positive growth measures, as expected is the private sector to face a difficult 2020.
“Without basic postulates for improvement of the business environment there will be no better working conditions and no life in Macedonia. First, which is related to the forthcoming elections and what is not expected in 2020, is that all stakeholders are committed to minimizing polarization in society. The economy and citizens need policy makers to lead positive campaigns, minimize daily political disagreements, find a compromise on key issues for national prosperity, and commit to accelerated economic development.
Second is the political actors’ realization of what was promised. By default everyone promises measures and better conditions, but little is done by incorporating specific steps into the programs. which also means workflow based instead of concrete steps with concrete results. To provide tangible results based on the specific economic measures we propose will signal that they will leave their past lives and work from crisis to crisis and spending instead of creating a long-term growth strategy.
The third concerns the frequent amendment of the Laws, where inappropriate legislation is adopted without consultation with stakeholders. There is no justification for adopting laws without consulting the economy, more precisely without those who need to apply the specific laws. It leads to improvisation and legal solutions that are inapplicable in practice that result in the need for new changes. Neither companies, nor institutions have sufficient capacity to consistently follow and enforce a large number of changing laws. In addition, there are unspecified laws, which open the possibility for different interpretation and devolution of responsibilities between institutions. According to the recommendations of the Council of Europe, with our participation as stakeholders in the drafting of laws itself, quality, applicable and functional regulation can be developed.
The fourth one that the Macedonian Chamber of Commerce spoke about and acted on last year is tackling competition from the gray economy. Priority in 2020 should also be to intensify the fight against the shadow economy, which is currently over 37% of the total economy. Recommendations are for institutions to adopt consistent implementation in practice of the Law on Prohibition and Prevention of Unregistered Activity. The union is actively involved with a number of mechanisms in joint action to detect and sanction unfair competition from unregistered shadow economy tax evaders. At the same time, in cooperation with institutions, we continue to advocate for an educational rather than repressive function of inspection services towards registered companies, for the dignified treatment of private sector taxpayers who regularly and conscientiously pay their taxes.
The fifth condition is to ensure market equity in conditions of free and fair competition, by establishing a clear will to secure the rule of law, which will encourage companies to take new steps to invest. Investing in times of uncertainty and unpredictability is a risk that those who work honestly, diligently and planned cannot afford it, “Arsovska said.
She added that delaying negotiations with the EU should not be a reason to stray from the path to implementing the necessary structural reforms that should be a national priority for each government and set out as our long-term strategy to demonstrate a move towards increased growth and development of the Macedonian economy now and immediately without delay.