Gruevski: State exam us a Yes to knowledge, No to purchased diplomas

The state exam aims to enhance the quality of higher education and put an end to the phenomenon of purchased diplomas, said Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski late on Saturday.

"We are committed to a measure that will put an end to the obtaining of diplomas without the possession of elementary knowledge, since this harms those who truly learn and demonstrate knowledge in acquiring the diploma, but then face the former when competing for a job. It is not good for a society to produce generations with zero knowledge and the Government must not look away. Knowledge is the thing that generates progress, not the diploma", said PM Gruevski in an interview with Sitel TV station.

The exam will be taken in two parts, one after the second year of studies and the second following the senior year.

"The grades will not be altered, the student and professor will not suffer repercussions. The state wants to ensure that students that complete the faculties truly possess knowledge for a minimum pass grade. The labor market will measure their true grade. We are doing this because we have faced problems over the past 15-20 years, since pass grades have been given at certain universities without showing knowledge. This is a public secret and we cannot tolerate it", stressed Gruevski.

According to him, the first state exam would be held in mid-2017 for the students who enroll studies in September 2015. If students do not pass the exam in the first attempt, they can take it until they do.

Foreign investments open 11,000 jobs, additional 13,000 to follow

I am satisfied from the foreign investments, because they have opened 11,000 jobs thus far. Numerous companies have decided to invest their capital in Macedonia in recent months, with additional 13,000 jobs in the plans, said PM Gruevski.

"I am more than satisfied from the interest and decisions by a number of foreign investors. Seventeen companies decided to build plants in Macedonia in the first half of 2013, eight in the second semester of the year. Besides the 13,000 direct jobs, there will be additional indirect employments, depending on the field of operations", he added.

According to him, the ultimate goal is lowering of the unemployment rate.

"We have cut the unemployment rate from 38 to 28 percent, and we are planning to reach 22 percent by the end of this mandate", stressed Gruevski.

Gas to cut costs of households and business

We are working on the gas distribution process, which is to reduce costs for the industry and households, but also take into account the environmental aspect, said PM Gruevski.

"An e-auction over Skopje's gas distribution is to be held in December or January, including two bidding companies. The higher bidder will get the 20-year concession", said Gruevski.

The selected company will have to invest EUR 100 million for distribution of gas to households and the industry. The gas distribution in Eastern and Western Macedonia will follow.

"Regarding the primary gas distribution, meaning networking of cities through a pipeline, we are finalizing talks with the EBRD, but we also hold discussions with other potential investors and mull the option of a public call for public-private partnership", added Gruevski.

Pertaining to Macedonia's existing contract for gas distribution, he said not even half of it is used.

"These quantities amount to 800 million m3, which might not even be enough, taking into account the increasing number of plants. We are planning to link with the Greek gas pipeline coming from the Athens port. We are also weighing the possibility of networking with the interconnective gas pipeline in Bulgaria. It is good if Macedonia has more than two sources of supply", underlined PM Gruevski.