Albania Investment Council – an effective public-private dialogue platform
Interview of Head of Secretariat, Ms Diana Leka to Bankieri Magazine.
Since its inception, AIC has addressed issues that have a direct impact on the investment climate, namely: informality, tax control, administrative disputes, investment incentives, inspections, property security, etc.
What is Albania Investment Council (AIC)?
Albania Investment Council is a public-private dialogue platform (established on a Memorandum of Cooperation between the Albanian Government and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 2014, and DCM no. 294, dated 08.04.2015), chaired by the Minister of Finance & Economy and consists of 17 members – representatives of public institutions, business associations and development partners. The main purpose of the AIC is to facilitate dialogue between stakeholders to develop a favorable, non-discriminatory and transparent climate for business and investments in Albania. As for the operational side, the AIC’s work is facilitated by its Technical Secretariat, supported by EBRD, currently funded by the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).
Following some amendments to the above DCM in 2019, Tirana Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and the Union of Chambers of Commerce & Industry of Albania became permanent members of the AIC, while four foreign chambers: Foreign Investors Association of Albania (FIAA), American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), German Chamber of Commerce (DIHA), Confindustria Albania were engaged with a 2-year mandate.
The banking sector’s voice has always been present at AIC tables, represented over the years by the Bank of Albania, as well as, at specific moments, by the Albanian Association of Banks (AAB) and BKT.
What are the most significant achievements during these years of activity?
During its five years of activity, and based on a structured work methodology, the Albania Investment Council has consolidated its position as an effective dialogue platform. Accordingly, the work begins with the economic-legal analysis of the issues under consideration, based also on our annual surveys, while the research work of the Secretariat is further focused on:
- Direct consultations with all stakeholders, focusing on identifying key issues, and prioritizing interventions to improve the investment climate in the country;
- Legal & regulatory analysis, surveys, research, organizing meetings at the technical level, setting up specific working groups on the implementation of recommendations;
- Preparing specific recommendations and measures to be implemented by institutions and associations/chambers, on possible solutions for identified problems;
- Monitor the status of implementation of AIC recommendations.
Since its inception, AIC has addressed issues that have a direct impact on the investment climate, namely: informality, tax control, administrative disputes, investment incentives, inspections, property security, etc. To date, it has offered 188 recommendations, categorized into four main pillars: (i) Strategic, (ii) Institutional, (iii) Legal, and (iv) Transparency. Currently, about 37% of recommendations have been implemented and 19% are in the process of implementation.
For example, in the fight against informality, we have made an impact on:
- improving the focus and sectoral approach of this reform, with practical legal interventions in tax procedures, such as: in agriculture, tourism, and services;
- accelerating the focus on inspection reform, mainly towards unifying administrative practices on central and local level inspections;
- advocating for simplifying business procedures, with a view to deregulation reform, by simplifying tax and customs procedures;
- advocating for faster intervention to increase the quality of the workforce up to the needs of priority sectors, where the business sees potential for new investments. This suggestion was followed by practical steps to strengthen university-government-business partnerships, as in the case of IT centers (for the creation of talent pools);
- advocating for the improvement of the electronic platform for construction permits, administered by the Territory Development Agency;
as well as practical recommendations, from the business viewpoint, regarding the unification of administrative dispute procedures in institutions with the most significant impact on businesses, such as General Tax Directorate, General Customs Directorate, Inspectorates, etc.
The involvement of the banking industry in AIC optics and findings related to this industry
The banking sector’s voice has always been present at AIC tables, represented over the years by the Bank of Albania, as well as, at specific moments, by the Albanian Association of Banks (AAB) and BKT. Specifically, AAB has been the main partner in the analysis of administrative disputes, as well as in the consultation of the bankruptcy act. I would also emphasize the cooperation in the frame of analyzes and recommendations against informality, further consolidated in the tourism and agriculture sectors. Recently, following our analysis of business – municipality cooperation (January 2020), we had very good cooperation with AAB, on issues of freezing business bank accounts by municipalities. Specifically, after the plenary meeting, the Secretariat collaborated with Ministry of Finance & Economy, AAB, Tirana Municipality, AmCham, Confindustria Albania, to debate, on a technical basis, about practical business reported issues, and to suggest pre-agreed interventions with Ministry of Finance & Economy – specifically some amendments to Instruction no.24 of the Minister of Finance & Economy.
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