The newly appointed head of the TIRZ zones for manufacturing companies Jovan Despotovski condemned the major foreign investors in Macedonia for the level of salaries they are paying. Despotovski, who was blamed for awarding contracts that involved absurd levels of conflict of interest while he was the SDSM appointed head of the Innovation Fund, now manages a dozen industrial parks where mostly foreign manufacturing companies can apply to receive pre-prepared construction sites and generous subsidies if they hire a significant number of workers.

I am absolutely unsatisfied not only with the level of the salaries, but with the fact that the average salary in the zones is below the average salary in the economy at large. Honestly it was a surprise for me, that technologically advanced companies are paying salaries below other companies, Despotovski (pictured seating on Zaev’s right) said during a Government press conference.

He added that the Government will not subsidize salaries in the zones but will look for programs to improve employee skills. He also warned the companies, which are some the largest employers in Macedonia, that TIRZ wil push for stricter deadlines for them to implement their terms of the agreement.

The companies, which include bus assembly, car parts manufacturing and a number of electronic parts companies were painstakingly drawn to Macedonia using incentives, tax breaks and a network of business promotors and have to a large extent changed the structure of Macedonian exports. The SDSM party condemned the program from the start, and changed much of the incentives structure after grabbing power in 2017, and as a result has had barely a trickle of investors coming to the zones ever since.