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Albanian Economy: |
Slovenia Seeking Ways of Boosting Trade with Albania
Posted on Friday, June 23 @ 08:33:29 PDT by acl
There are a lot of unused opportunities between Slovenia and Albania in terms of economic cooperation, Economic Affairs Minister Andrej Vizjak said as he addressed an Albanian-Slovenian business forum in Tirana on Tuesday, 20 June.
Indeed, Albania could present an important market for Slovenian companies, he said, adding that the "business forum is one of the pieces in the puzzle that could deepen the economic and political cooperation between the two."
At the forum, a part of his one-day visit to Albania, Vizjak pointed out the 12 June stabilisation and association agreement between Albania and the European Union.
Besides representing another step by Albania towards the EU, it is also important for economic cooperation between Slovenia and Albania, as it presents basic guidelines for such cooperation, he added.
Slovenia also supports the continuing stabilisation of economic and political situation in Albania, he explained, adding that "EU enlargement and stabilisation of the situation in Albania will be two of Slovenia's priorities of the country's stint as the EU president in 2008".
His Albanian counterpart Genc Ruli stressed that Albania wants foreign investment in all areas, which would also increase the country's competitiveness.
Ruli believes Slovenian companies would get their chance to invest during the privatisation of the telecommunication and energy sectors.
The businessmen from both countries welcomed the strengthening of cooperation between the two countries, with the Albanians saying that getting a Slovenian visa is complicated.
Vizjak also met Albanian PM Sali Berisha, who expressed his readiness to help Slovenian investors by cutting red tape and giving them as many tax breaks as possible when entering the Albanian market. "I'm sure we are welcome in Albania," Vizjak said after the meeting.
According to the Slovenian Statistical Office, the trade between the two countries amounted to EUR 20.4m, a 23% increase over 2004. Slovenia recorded a large surplus, as its exports amounted to EUR 18.4m.
Source: Slovene Press Agency STA
Cyprus and Albania sign customs agreement
The Cyprus House of Representatives has ratified a customs agreement between the governments of Cyprus and Albania.
The agreement aims at enhancing cooperation between the two countries, especially in the areas of customs infringement and crime.
Cyprus has signed similar agreements with the United States, Israel and Italy. Under consideration are agreements with the Czech Republic and Malta. (CNA)
Czech ambassador to Albania not to be prosecuted
Prague- Miroslav Sindelar, Czech ambassador to Albania, will not be prosecuted over financial machinations at the embassy, for which his former subordinate was sentenced in March, as state attorney Sarka Pokorna has found no reasons to initiate Sindelar's prosecution, she told CTK today.
While delivering the verdict to Vaclav Cihak, former head of the embassy's financial department, the judge expressed embarrassment at the chaos reigning at the embassy and proposed that Pokorna consider Sindelar's possible criminal responsibility.
Pokorna said she has checked the file but found nothing to justify prosecution of Sindelar, which she therefore would not initiate.
Cihak received a conditional sentence and was ordered to compensate for the damage worth more than 1.8 million crowns.
He pleaded innocent but admitted his moral responsibility for the embassy's financial loss in 2002. He asserted that he had not used the money for personal purposes, but the court did not trust him. It found him guilty of drawing twice money, $10,000 and $30,000, from the embassy's account in August 2002, and of pre-dating an invoice worth 500,000 crowns in order to keep the sum.
Cihak maintains that he made the machinations in order to cover up the embassy's financial deficit whose origin he could not explain. He pointed to his bad psychical state at the time, including alcoholism and a suicide attempt.
Cihak left the embassy in end-2002 within the regular rotation of staff. His machinations surfaced under his successor.
Cihak was sacked from the Foreign Ministry in February 2003 in connection with embezzlement charges.
Albania's poverty reduced, study shows
The study, conducted by the Albanian Institute of Statistics and the World Bank, showed that absolute poverty had fallen from 25 percent in 2002 to 18.5 percent in 2005.
That meant that roughly 235,000 of Albania's 800,000 impoverished had been lifted above the poverty line, which was defined in the study as having a monthly income below US$53 by 2002 prices, or US$57 by 2005 prices.
The extremely poor - defined as those with difficulty meeting basic nutritional needs -decreased from about 5 percent to 3.5 percent, the study said.
Poverty remains, however, largely in rural populations, which accounted for two-thirds of the country's poor in 2002, and three-fourths in 2005.
Worst off were people in mountain areas, the study said, but added that the gap in wealth between that group and the rest of the country had declined dramatically, the AP reports.
The study recommended that Albania stay on its reform path, which it said had brought sustained economic growth, improvement in the investment climate, better governance and social services and expanding infrastructure.
Albania Begins Power Cuts To Repair Distribution Stations
TIRANA (AP)--The Albanian power corporation said Monday it would impose daily seven-hour power cuts in Tirana to repair the distribution stations through August.
Downtown Tirana lost power at 8 a.m. local time Monday without notice, and learned it would be restored at 3 p.m. Daily electricity shutdowns have been occurring throughout the capital's suburbs and smaller towns since November.
Exempt from the power cuts were embassies, international institutions, hospitals, water supply stations and television stations, said Albanian Electro-Energy Corp. spokesman Gerta Gixhari.
The power company earlier this month had threatened to cut power to public institutions as well as bars and clubs that have failed to pay electricity bills.
The company's problems have been compounded by high world energy prices and a significant drop in water levels at northern Albanian plants that produce the bulk of its electricity.
Since 1990, the former communist Balkan country has suffered regular electricity troubles due to poor management, an outdated distribution system and lack of money because of unpaid bills. The last hydroelectric power plant was built in 1987.
In the past three years, the power company has received hundreds of millions of euros for investment, but that hasn't prevented the outages from continuing.
The government was also planning to build power plants to balance power production in the country's south.
June 19, 2006 08:27 ET (12:27 GMT)
Eximbank Finances Albanian Hydropower Project
The Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim Bank) has pledged to provide buyer's credit worth more than US$100 million for a hydropower plant in Albania.
China Exim Bank and the Albanian Ministry of Finance signed an agreement in Beijing Thursday.
"It is the largest export buyer's credit loan contract ever signed between China and Albania," a spokesman with the bank said.
The loan will be used to fund the Bushat Hydropower Station, to be built by China International Water & Electric Corp, the spokesman said.
The hydropower plant, which will incorperate two generators each with a capacity of 40,000 kilowatts, is designed to generate 360 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year after completion.
"The project will not only help the two countries increase their friendship, but will also help the Chinese side to increase exports and the Albanian side to ease the regional shortage of electricity," the spokesman said.
As China's primary export credit institution, China Exim Bank has always given a large amount of attention to supporting the export of electronics and machinery products, complete sets of equipment and high-tech products, the spokesman said.
China Exim Bank President Yang Zilin earlier said that his bank would issue 42 billion yuan (US$5.1 billion) through various kinds of loans for Chinese exporters in 2001.
By the end of 2001, Exim's outstanding loans are expected hit 73.5 billion yuan (US$8.9 billion), Yang claimed.
While continuing to support the country's export of machinery products and high-tech products, he said, the bank will also try to provide high quality and efficient financial services for Chinese companies which invest in foreign countries.
Yang said the bank will expand loan services to these companies which engage in processing trade or contract projects in foreign countries, he said.
The bank also plans to support Chinese companies to contract projects or engage in resources exploration and manufacturing business in countries for which the Chinese government provides preferential loans, he said.
Source: People's Daily
Railway in Albania: Disastrous state of Durres-Tirana Line
Even though some investments, with help of Italian government and World Bank founds, were made at the beginning of 90s, present state of Durres-Tirana railway line, which connects Albanian capital with country's main seaport, is almost disastrous. Arben Keci, managing director of technical department of Albanian Railways said that Government should invest in railways in more consequent and consist manner. "You do not abandon such type of works only because of temporary lack of resources" - he added.
Currently Albanian Railways are facing huge financial problems. Yearly income covers only 25% of expenses. There's no possibility of launching major modernization program in the near future but some investments have been already planned. Albanian Railways are to revitalize few stations on Durres-Tirana line and to buy new rolling stock. "That's step in the right direction - Arben Koci said - but we still have a very long way to go".
(Source: Le courriers de Balkans, 8 June 2006)
Albania's KESH: Public Institutions Not Paying Elec Fees
TIRANA (AP)--Albania's power company Friday complained public institutions were failing to pay for electricity, creating serious problems for the company.
The state-owned Albanian Electro-Energy Corp., or KESH, also threatened to cut power to bars and clubs hoping to screen World Cup soccer coverage, unless they settled their debts.
KESH urged bars and clubs to pay their bills "so that sport-loving Albanians remain satisfied during the World Cup soccer championship."
Albania has suffered chronic electricity problems during the post-communist period since 1990 due to chronic nonpayment, poor management, an outdated distribution system and lack of money.
KESH said public institutions owed 900 million leks, or EUR7.6 million, during the first five months this year. That amount was in addition to EUR18 million of delayed payments from earlier, the company said in a statement.
It said those with outstanding debts included the state water supply and telephone companies, local authorities and police stations, schools, universities, courts, hospitals, taxation and customs offices.
The power company has imposed daily power cuts since November, except to hospitals, water supply stations, police and emergency services and embassies, after power production dropped drastically when the country's main hydropower stations failed because of drought.
Ninety percent of the country's electricity is produced in the north from hydroelectric plants that suffer from lack of rain and work at less than half capacity due to outdated technology.
KESH said it had managed to collect debts this year from 80% of private consumers and 96.5% of small private business.
Last month, the government said it would reduce electricity prices to businesses by one-third to promote development, but that it would increase the price to individual consumers. It said some 270,000 families with a monthly income less than 15,000 leks, or EUR128, would receive subsidies.
The government was also planning to build power plants to balance power production in the country's south.
Albanian prosecutor accuses PM political attack
TIRANA, Albania-Albania's prosecutor general accused Prime Minister Sali Berisha of waging a political attack against him that he called "premeditated, illegal and unfair."
Prosecutor General Theodhori Sollaku is being investigated by a 13-member parliamentary committee assigned last month to look into allegations that he mishandled more than 80 legal cases.
Sollaku called the investigation, prompted by Berisha, politically motivated and accused Berisha of trying to take control of his office.
He accused Berisha of defamation and intimidation "in order to impose silence" and alleged that Berisha's actions and statement were a violation of his rights as well as the country's laws and constitution.
"Such an action is dangerous. It would bring the (political) party domination of a constitutionally independent institution from a grouping that owes the executive power and that would exploit it with political commanding leaders," he told the parliamentary committee.
Parliament can dismiss a prosecutor-general if he is found to have broken the law or is unable to carry out his duties due to illness. The president must ratify any decision.
"Mr. Politicians, if you do not like the prosecutor general and he seems incapable, amend the Constitution and then you are entitled to professionally evaluate his work and ask for his dismissal," Sollaku said.
Sollaku, 43, was elected by parliament in 2002. He served as Berisha's legal adviser when Berisha was president from 1992-97.
ACL - 23 June 2006
Average Score: 5|