Prishtina, July 19, 2016– The necessity of further improvement of the doing business and investment facilitation environment was the focus of discussions during the meeting of the National Council on Economic Development. In addition to providing a mechanism to respective ministers to report on activities related to the business environment, the meeting provided a platform for representatives of business associations to raise issues of interest to their membership.
Isa Mustafa, Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, emphasized the progress that Kosovo has marked so far in a number of areas, which were noted in the latest World Bank’s Doing Business Report and other reports published by domestic and international organizations. Mustafa pointed out that the fact that Kosovo was able to maintain an economic growth rate of roughly 4 percent and attract foreign direct investments of more than 320 million euro during a period marked by political tension shows that Kosovo is gradually earning the confidence of foreign investors that the country presents an excellent opportunity for doing business.
Hykmete Bajrami, Minister of Trade and Industry, addressed a number of achievements that the council has had so far through its working groups, while also pointing out that a number of initiatives launched in previous meetings are yet to be implemented. She expressed her disappointment with the fact that the Draft Law on Strategic Investments was not approved in the assembly, considering that such a law would be crucial in terms of providing senior government officials greater freedom for stimulating and facilitating foreign direct investments.
Arian Zeka, Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo, underlined the need for the institutions to work towards upgrading the legislative framework for facilitating domestic and foreign investments. Zeka pointed out that in order for trade deficit and the unemployment rate to decrease significantly, and with the aim of achieving higher rates of economic growth, policies should be analyzed from a long-term perspective as opposed to looking at the short-term budget implications. In this regard, he called on institutions to increase their dynamics for approving tax holidays for new investments, finalize the legislation for giving public land and property in concession to investors, and broadening the list of customs exempted goods with raw materials used in manufacturing processes. Furthermore, Zeka emphasized that rule of law and legislative predictability are elements that foreign pay a particular attention when choosing a location for their investments, thus making the need to increase the professional capacities of the courts (particularly the fiscal division) of extreme importance. He also recommended the Director of Kosovo Investment and Export Support Agency to appoint Kosovo’s commercial representatives in United States of America along with those to be appointed in European countries. And finally, he urged on the recently appointed Minister of Justice Dhurata Hoxha to prioritize strengthening of the professional capacities of the Fiscal Division of the Department of Economic Disputes in the Basic Court of Prishtina that would more efficiently address the disputes of businesses with Tax Administration and Customs.
Other issues which were discussed during the meeting by the members of the council were potential incentives schemes for foreign investors, online payment system for insurances at border crossing points, the establishment of a one-stop-shop for the mining industry, and the confidence of local businesses in the doing business environment.