For a euro, Albania makes state property available to business

15/04/2014

The new measure is intended to attract investment and reduce unemployment.

By Erl Murati for Southeast European Times in Tirana -- 15/04/14

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Prime Minister Edi Rama presents investment opportunities in Albania to a group of Italian businessmen. [Office of the Prime Minister of Albania]

The Albanian government will rent state-owned property at a symbolic price of 1 euro in an effort to encourage foreign and domestic enterprises to invest in Albania and reduce unemployment.

"We have decided to provide lands against the annual 1 euro fee for each and every investment in production," Prime Minister Edi Rama said at a meeting with businessmen from Albania and Kosovo.

The measure, popularly termed "Albania 1 euro," also includes for rent military bases and warehouses under life-long contracts.

Reducing unemployment was Rama's main campaign promise during the elections seven months ago. Approximately 1 million of Albania's 2.8 million people are unemployed.

Various entities have already expressed interest in renting state-owned property, said Vojsava Bozgo, a specialist on state property at the Albania economic development ministry.

"We are now working to highlight the possible state-owned parcels to lease to those companies that desire them in order to lead their [business] activities via this rent-based approach," Bozgo told SETimes.

Entrepreneurs said the initiative may particularly be profitable for industrial entities that will invest more than 10 million euros, such as clothing producers and for social enterprises in the fields of culture, tourism and sports.

This initiative provides Albania the opportunity to become one of the most preferred manufacturing destinations, said Donika Mici, owner of Mici's Shoes, a growing brand of shoes and accessories that operates with 1,400 employees in three factories.

"But far more important is the security and longevity of these contracts, which provide us the possibility to invest and expand our activity. It means greater employment opportunities for the population," Mici told SETimes.

Mici said the measure is also an opportunity for Albanian producers to expand in European markets in a manner similar to China and India in years past.

"The bells toll for those businessmen who have ears to listen and can [reap the] benefits," Mici said.

Trade with EU states makes up 65 percent of Albania's overall trade volume, and Italy is the country's primary trading partner.

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Albania 1 euro is a positive initiative, but to make it successful, the government must support it with other measures, said Adrian Civici, president of the European University of Tirana and member of the Bank of Albania's supervisory council.

"Investors need to see rule of law implemented, informality that reaches 40 percent reduced as well as fiscal stability and lower taxes than in the other regional countries," Civici told SETimes.

"By itself, Albania 1 euro will not reach the expected results," Civici said.

What can the Albanian government do to make the Albania 1 euro measure a success? Share your opinion in the comments space.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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