One step further to increasing investments
Speech of Prime Minister Edi Rama at the ceremony for the launch of the Investment Council:
The launch of this Investment Council is another important moment. An effort started 18 months ago to address as well as possible, as fast as possible and as deep as possible the complex problems of doing business in Albania.
We have a very positive experience, the experience of the National Economic Council where, together with the business community, we created the conditions for interaction with financial institutions, with representatives of various chambers of commerce and business, in order to address in the most proper way the problems of our economy.
I believe that we can say confidently that we have done a lot in these 18 months to transform the space of doing business from a space suffocated by arbitrariness and unpredictability in a space of action and interaction, which we intend to expand continuously through a series of new measures in view of deregulation.
On the other hand, today we are witnessing the fact that if 18 months ago we received a heavy legacy in the relations between the government and the enterprise, where the most significant aspect was the burden of 720 million dollars of debts that the government had towards entrepreneurship, more than 5% our National Production, today we are at a time when we can say that not only 300 million have been returned to entrepreneurship while the remaining part is in the process of being returned, the system on which these relations are based has changed radically.
Suffice it to mention that if until 18 months ago VAT reimbursement was often an impossible and corrupted process, today we have a completely transparent and automatic VAT refund, which has facilitated enormously every enterprise activity.
On the other hand, we have done more than that and beyond that, to create a new relationship of trust in the interaction with enterprise, by cancelling every electoral fine prior to June 2013, just as we had promised. In addition, we created conditions for the path of law and reason to prevail always in the entire process of interaction between the enterprise and the Directorate General of Taxation, contrary to what it used to be in the past when neither the law nor reason, but the immediate needs of power established the law on entrepreneurship.
The Investment Council is a new creature, not to add another mechanism in this process of interaction, but to create a mechanism which, thanks to the support and EBRD expertise, will give us the opportunity to directly address the problems of entrepreneurship and seek solutions together to continue facilitating the investment process in our country.
In the following weeks, the Albanian Parliament will consider and adopt a new law on investments, which is practically an entirely new basis that significantly expands the space and freedom of the investment process, but on the other increases significantly the predictability in the investment process and goes a step further in the state support to investors. We are discussing intensively to thoroughly analyze every element of this new law, and we are convinced that through this new law we will have a new chapter for investment and investors in Albania.
Cooperation with EBRD in this direction gives us more confidence that this project, as our friend stated earlier, is a pilot project for EBRD that will give us anticipated results in investments, and we have asked that Albania takes the first step.
We are aware that 2015 is a crucial year for our economy, it is a particularly important year for our economic plan, and it will play an important role in the years to come because the achievement of growth target will bring two things: on the one hand our economy will have a stable growth, and on the other hand it will have a new foundation for sustainable growth in the coming years.
We are encouraged by the fact that this process of sustainable growth is coming as a result of the transformation of our economic model. From an exhausted economic model that was based for a long time primarily on remittances, remittances of immigrants and on the construction boom, it was transformed in a model focused on new sources of growth, mainly production oriented.
It is a great pleasure to inform you today that we are having very fruitful discussions with EBRD experts, and soon we will make public a new initiative to expand sensitively the range of financing in agriculture. In addition we will create the conditions for giving the government the role of mediator and catalyst of these investments, and making the banking system much more accessible to farmers, as well as to having the government, in cooperation with EBRD, as guarantor of these investments by assuming the risk. This will be a historically significant moment for the supportive role of government to agriculture, and for the new financing force that the sector will take thanks to direct lending to farmers, but as I said, by using the government as guarantor of investment risk in agriculture.
Finally, let me highlight a particular aspect of the investment process, which is the fight against corruption in the relations between the state and investors. This is a key element and it is obviously the fundamental challenge of this government, for which the Investment Council will surely give a special contribution.
I thank wholeheartedly EBRD, its President, our friend who is here today to launch this important project between the government and EBRD. I thank the attendees, and I wish that our relation with second-level banks will strengthen during this process of communication and interaction, and I hope that experience will teach us that banks as well have heart and are not totally deprived of this organ which is very important for having a society and an institution function. We had the chance to actually see that banks have a heart, when it came to support the affected by floods in Albania’s southern area several months ago, but we do not just look at the heart that appears in the form of an opportunity to wash away “sins”, but we would like the heart to appear in the form of an opportunity to become part of a process where economy is enhanced through its stakeholders. And in this case, in order to become important actors of our economy, the only thing Albanian farmers need at the moment – although they have many ideas, talents and a lot of willpower, is a little more credit, and this is not a small thing.