Macedonian govt calls prior foreign investment push 'a show'

SKOPJE, Macedonia — Macedonia's left-wing government accused the country's previous administration Wednesday of secretly squandering more than 150 million euros ($178 million) on attracting foreign investors to special economic zones.

The ambitious program launched by the then-conservative government in 2007 led to the World Bank ranking Macedonia 10th in the world for ease of doing business. It also helped cut unemployment from 37 percent in 2005 to less than 23 percent.

Together with tax and customs exemptions offered to investors, the cost to Macedonian taxpayers has reached 225 million euros ($268 million) since 2007, government spokesman Mile Boshnjakovski said.

It was "an economic show policy, not a growth policy," Boshnjakovski said, adding that the current government — in office since May — would fully respect existing deals with investors.

Boshnjakovski told journalists that former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's administration approved all investment deals "in a closed circle, negotiated by ministers, advisers and mediators, without criteria and all data were classified."

The VMRO-DPMNE party that governed Macedonia for a decade rejected the current government's criticism. It said only 50 million euros in state subsidies was provided to all foreign companies in Macedonia over the past 10 years, half of which was to spur investments in the special zones.

Macedonia currently has eight functioning economic zones.

The government plans to publish a new strategy for investment on Thursday that will focus on creating equal opportunities for domestic and foreign investors, Boshnjakovski told the Associated Press.

Direct foreign investments in Macedonia in 2015 and 2016 reached nearly 200 million euros ($238 million.)

Must Read

A look at China's foreign policy challenges

Aug 10, 2016

China's simmering feud with South Korea over deployment of an American missile defense system is the latest in a string of foreign policy challenges piling up on President Xi Jinping's desk as he prepares to host next month's annual summit of G20 nations

Beyond 'Obamacare': State initiatives refocus health debate

Aug 9, 2016

Political activists are looking to state ballot questions to move beyond "Obamacare" and refocus the nation's long-running debate over government's role in health care

UN bungles response to Africa's yellow fever outbreak

Aug 5, 2016

An AP investigation finds that 1 million doses of yellow fever vaccines vanished in Angola as the World Health Organization's response lagged for months

People also read these

10 Things to Know for Thursday

Aug 11, 2016

Among 10 Things to Know: Criticism may be slowing Trump train; 'Grim Sleeper' sent to death row; versatile ESPN sportscaster dies at 61

Beyond 'Obamacare': State initiatives refocus health debate

Aug 9, 2016

Political activists are looking to state ballot questions to move beyond "Obamacare" and refocus the nation's long-running debate over government's role in health care

Zambia voting for president amid unprecedented violence

Aug 10, 2016

Zambia, former 'model for Africa,' votes for president amid striking political violence

Weather, 20 December
Houston Weather
+7

High: +11° Low: -2°

Humidity: 83%

Wind: NNE - 7 KPH

Canberra Weather
+27

High: +27° Low: +17°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: W - 20 KPH

Roissy-en-France Weather
+6

High: +6° Low: -5°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: ENE - 7 KPH

Florence Weather
+9

High: +9° Low: +6°

Humidity: 97%

Wind: ENE - 17 KPH

Parga Weather
+7

High: +16° Low: +4°

Humidity: 100%

Wind: SE - 25 KPH