The Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts (MANU) organized a roundtable entitled “Prospects of Development of the Republic of Macedonia in the Post-Crisis Period” in Ohrid on Tuesday, at which stress was laid on the need of developing a strategy that would offer a vision of how Macedonia should look like in 10, 15 or 20 years and that would be drafted in cooperation with all scientific institutions in the country. This, however, the academicians added, is hard to achieve considering that only 0.2 percent of GDP is spent on science.
The academies of Bulgaria and Montenegro have already drafted visions of their countries entitled “Bulgaria 2030” and “Montenegro in the Era of Competitiveness” respectively. Macedonia, too, should develop a strategy for its overall development that would encompass all areas. The last time MANU developed an economic strategy was in 2000, Vlado Kambovski, President of the Macedonian Academy, said.
In Kambovski’s view, the numerous terms that are constantly used to describe various states in the country should be closely defined.
“Such a term, for instance, is transition. It came from the western circles denoting the transition of the Eastern European societies to political pluralism and market economy. However, this process cannot be regarded as over unless state institutions have also transited and unless pending national and ethnic issues have been closed,” Kambovski said.
According to academician Blaze Ristovski, all countries have projections about their development and visions about how they would look like in the future. Macedonia, in his view, appears scared that the raising of these issues would impose various memorandums.
“However, we cannot even think of development unless there is a separate sector of science. At present, we have a ministry in which science is placed last while the annual funds allocated to science are below 0.2 percent of GDP. This is hardly enough to cover regular costs let alone undertake certain more profound research. It is for this reason that Macedonian science does not go anywhere beyond Macedonia’s borders. Our problem is that the world knows very little about us although we think it knows us well,” he said.
Academician Taki Fiti said that in the beginning Macedonia faced numerous hardships that were not of economic nature yet had a tremendous effect on its economic growth, such as the two embargos, the refugee crisis of 1999 and the armed conflict of 2001. Nevertheless, he said, the country scored a major success in its stabilization; it managed to contain the hyperinflation; and until recently it had a relatively small public debt.
“This stability, however, did not build up a potential for economic growth and creation of new jobs and this has remained the country’s biggest problem,” he stressed.
In his view, the private sector rather than the state should be the biggest investor and the biggest employer.
“It is good that the number of small and medium firms is rising yet they need support. The Macedonian Bank for Development Promotion is a good base for this because it provides 12-13 million euros a year for these firms. If its capital however is increased by the amount of money currently spent on farming subsidies, many more possibilities will be created. Moreover, since its credits are channeled through commercial banks, all political influence in the approval of the loans will be eliminated,” Fiti said.