On Draft Unified Investment Law, consultation with business stakeholders
Tirana, 25 June 2019 / Albania Investment Council in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MFE) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) organized two consultation round tables on the Draft Unified Investment Law, published by the Albanian Government for comments on the Register for Public Notification and Consultation (7 May 2019). With the participation of around 40 representatives from the business community (local and foreign companies and associations/chambers), legal firms as well as trade attachés from foreign embassies in the country, the discussion was held in general terms on the principles of this draft law but also at the technical level. To enable an efficient and inclusive discussion, prior to the organization of these round tables, the Secretariat of the Investment Council made efforts to engage key stakeholders by starting with the collection of prior detailed written comments and afterwards submitting them for review to MFE and IFC.
At the opening of the discussions, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy, Ms Belinda Ikonomi underscored the commitment of the Albanian government to improve the investment climate in the country and how the improvement of the legal framework plays an important role in this regard. Ms Ikonomi explained the necessity and the objectives of this draft law as an instrument which would aim the equal treatment of domestic and foreign investors. She underlined the importance of consulting this draft law with stakeholders and thanked the participants for the submission of comments which are all valuable for the further improvement of the current draft law.
IFC Senior Specialist for the Private Sector, Mr Eugeniu Osmochescu, presented the work carried out by IFC in collaboration with the working group of MFE in the framework of the project “Investment Climate and Agribusiness Competitiveness”, funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). Mr Osmochescu mentioned, in particular, the component which covers investment climate, part of which is the preparation of this draft law. He highlighted the importance of wide consultations as well the necessity to conclude this process at the earliest.
In the following, IFC experts, Mr Mark Reichel and Ms Blertë Kraja delivered a general presentation of the legal provisions of the draft law as well as a brief presentation of the main comments collected from the line ministries and business community, providing also respective clarifications within the context of the draft law. The submitted comments were mainly related to the substance, concepts and formalities. IFC expressed the engagement to properly review each comment, but due to time restrictions, the discussion was to be concentrated on the main pillars.
In general terms, according to IFC experts, the main objectives of the draft law are to i) establish a comprehensive legal regime for domestic, foreign, general and strategic investments; ii) encourage domestic and foreign investments in Albania with a single law, iii) fair and equal treatment and protection of domestic and foreign investment, iv) provide investors with transparent and easy access to the market, v) provide for a prompt and fair settlement of any potential dispute arising during the developing of the investment; vi) full compliance with the international investment agreements and international obligations of Albania and with the EU acquis, etc.
During the discussion, suggestions were made regarding the necessity to prepare a comprehensive law with a full package of by-laws; clear drafting of legal provisions, particularly those related to incentives, strategic sectors, minimum treatment standards and investor grievance mechanism. Most of the participants were in favour of a better clarification of procedures by the law itself in order to leave less room for their definition through respective by-laws.
In conclusion, Ms Ikonomi thanked the participants for their valuable contribution and the Secretariat for its good work as relates to the inclusion of business stakeholders, and she informed that the working group has taken note of all raised comments by the business—some already reflected in the improved version—while in the framework of transparency a detailed matrix is being finalised. The draft law will be revised upon review of all the comments and an improved draft will be submitted to the Council of Ministers, aiming its approval within July 2019.