North Macedonia introduces a new minimum wage and price-freezing measures, as the country continues to grapple with workforce shortages, including in the legal profession, according to Bachovski Sinkoli Attorneys Managing Partner Robert Bachovski Sinkoli.
"Recently, there has been a change in the minimum wage, effective from April 1, with the new minimum wage set at EUR 330," Bachovski Sinkoli says, noting that the minimum wage varies depending on industries. "The government has also announced a review of the minimum wage in six months, to ensure it is adequate to cover the cost of living."
"On the other hand, price caps have been introduced on essential items such as food and energy," he adds. "For example, there have been fixed prices on bread: however, this has led to protests from bread producers who claim they will not make any profits under this pricing scheme." According to Bachovski Sinkoli, as a result, there have been instances where bread was not available in shops for a few days. "Similar price caps have also been observed in the energy sector, leading to concerns about the availability of heating," he continues. "These price-freezing measures have caused disruptions in the market and have been met with mixed reactions from various stakeholders."
Another interesting topic in North Macedonia, according to Bachovski Sinkoli, is the shortage of professionals in the legal system, including lawyers, judges, and notaries. "To illustrate, in the Basic Court of Prilep there are only three judges currently working, whereas official reports indicate that there should be at least 15 judges. This shortage of judges has resulted in delays in court procedures, particularly in civil, criminal, and commercial cases." When it comes to hiring lawyers, Bachovski Sinkoli points to "the perception that younger generations are more inclined to pursue careers in fields such as engineering, where they may find better opportunities outside the country. This trend may further impact the availability and quality of legal professionals, exacerbating the existing challenges in the legal system."
According to Bachovski Sinkoli, the entire country is facing challenges related to workforce shortages. "To address the issue of workforce deficit, North Macedonia, along with Serbia and other countries in the Balkan region, initiated a new joint plan two months ago to attract investments under the Open Balkan scheme," he notes. "This could potentially result in the removal of tax between the countries to promote open movement in the Balkans. Working together could be one way to overcome our deficits."