North Macedonia’s PM takes over finance ministry in government reshuffle

By bne IntelliNews June 23, 2019

North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev announced on June 23 that he will take over the position of finance minister as part of the government reshuffle, a proposal that surprised many in the country.

Zaev pledged earlier he will make changes in the government, in the ruling party's bodies and state-owned companies following the unsatisfactory results of the recent presidential election. Voters used the election to express their unhappiness, even though the governing coalition's candidate Stevo Pendarovski eventually emerged as the winner in the second round.

The government reconstruction takes places several days after the European Council posponed the decision to set a date for North Macedonia, and also Albania, to launch EU accession negotiations until October.

The country, previously known as Macedonia, was renamed North Macedonia earlier this year under the name deal with Greece which solved the long-standing dispute between the two countries. North Macedonia also concluded a Friendship Treaty with Bulgaria, an agreement praised by the EU.

Dragan Tevdovski, who previously served as finance minister, will probably remain in the cabinet as Zaev’s advisor.

“As we resolved all major political issues, it remains for us to improve the economic standard, and I believe that in the coming months we will make serious achievements in managing the country’s financial resources,” Zaev, who is also a businessman, said, when asked about his decision to take over the finance ministry.

Zaev also said that the budget revision will be adopted at the beginning of the autumn.

Other changes seem to be more cosmetic as the changes did not affect the key ministries and new names are not known in the public.

Trajan Dimkovski was nominated as new agriculture minister to replace Ljupco Nikolovski, who was previously appointed secretary general of the governing SDSM party, Zaev said.

The new minister of culture will be Hysni Ismaili as a successor of Asaf Ademi, while Goran Milevski will replace Suhejl Fazliu as the new minister for local self-government.

Sadula Duraku, who previously served as minister of environment and spatial planning, will be the new minister for political systems. Naser Nuredini will take over the ministry of environment and spatial planning.

The biggest opposition party, VMRO-DPMNE, said it was disappointed about the new names, particularly about Zaev's decision to become the new finance minister.

“This creates opportunity for all money to go to Zaev and his family,” VMRO-DPMNE spokesperson Naum Stoilkovski said.

Replacement of directors in public companies will be announced by the end of June.

The 120-seat parliament will hold a session on the government reshuffle on June 26. A simple majority is needed for the new ministers to be voted in.

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