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Wednesday, November 22, 2017, 

Switzerland to help Macedonia improve regional development

Switzerland to help Macedonia improve regional development

Skopje, 10 November 2017 (MIA) - Macedonia will introduce an electronic system to monitor how money from the budget is spent in all planning regions. It will be made possible under a memorandum of understanding on a sustainable and inclusive equitable regional development, signed Friday by the Deputy PM for economic affairs, Koco Angjusev, Minister of Local Self-Government Suhejl Fazliu, and Swiss Ambassador Sybille Suter Tejada.

The memo foresees implementation of the project estimated at 5.4 million Swiss francs, including a grant of 3.68 million set aside by Switzerland and 1.72 million provided by the Macedonian government.

The project consists of three components. The first one at 1.7 million Swiss francs is intended for software development to monitor how money in the budget is spent in every part of the country. The second, CHF-0.7 million component is designed exclusively for at risk citizens and for improving their infrastructure. The third component, estimated at CHF 3 million, will focus on infrastructural and innovative projects in all of the eight planning regions in Macedonia.

The software will be made available online for public inspection of how state money is spent, according to Angjusev.

"Our objective is to create almost identical living conditions across the country, regardless of where people live. We must spend the money in a pragmatic way in order to create better living conditions. Now, we live in two different worlds. One world includes big developed cities and the second one has rural areas that lack even the most basic infrastructure," stated the Deputy Premier adding the 2018 budget envisaged more funds, by 26%, for regional equitable development - which is an increase 'like never before in any budget'.

The Swiss grant, Angjusev said, can contribute to developing rural areas. "At the same time, this support binds us to spend the money transparently."

At the moment, in order to see how money is spent in the region, it is necessary to check all the ministries where they have invested or constructed. The software, already in the works, will show results immediately.

According to Minister Fazliu, huge development differences and inadequate response to the ever-growing expansion of the capital Skopje at the expense the provinces of the country, becoming desolate at an increasing rate, have caused many residents to face a lack of basic living conditions.

"Evidently, the policy on equal regional development, implemented in the past 10 years, has failed to produce the expected result. Even the most developed region, the Skopje Planning Region, can detect huge differences between the center and its outskirts," he noted.

Switzerland has been supporting equitable regional development in Macedonia since 2012. In the past five years, it has been managed to reduce regional disparity, stated the Swiss Ambassador, Sybille Suter Tejada. ba/17:02

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