Prishtina, March 14, 2020 – The American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo and the Kosovo Chamber of Commerce express their gratitude for the swift action of the Government of Kosovo in taking precautionary measures regarding the global COVID-19 pandemic virus.
However, both chambers of commerce are concerned about the impact these measures may have on the country’s economy in general, and on the private sector in particular, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, both because of the constraints but also due to the uncertainties that exist among the public, which among other things cause panic and uncontrolled actions.
In this regard, the American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo and the Kosovo Chamber of Commerce require from the Government of the country to come up with detailed clarifications regarding the decisions, but also additional measures to protect the companies operating in Kosovo. These measures may include a Government led campaign to raise awareness and to avoid panic and uncontrolled public action.
The government should explain to the general public the decision taken on 13.03.2020 concerning private sector work, as a number of enterprises, especially manufacturing companies, are reporting employees refusing to go to work, citing the Government’s decision. In addition, the Government should exclude from the prohibition of entry all foreign citizens who are drivers of transporting goods vehicles, since the ban on entry of such tools can cause difficulties in the supply chains of goods, including raw materials, and thus hinder the operation of manufacturing industry. Furthermore, the Government should also discuss with the representatives of the private sector a set of measures that may be taken to subsidize enterprises which, in case of prolongation of this situation, may face difficulties in their operations due to labor restriction, and economic activity decline.
These measures may include extending the deadline for filing and payment of tax liabilities, thereby abolishing interest calculations, imposing penalties and blocking accounts. In addition, the Central Bank of the Republic of Kosovo should decide to suspend the obligations for loan payment for businesses and citizens, as well as their reprogramming, in addition to providing the necessary protection for banking and non-bank financial institutions. Further, the deadline for financial reporting for businesses and non-governmental organizations should be extended, while salaries for employees (at the minimum wage level) should also be subsidized. In the event of limited and deficient capacity for monetary subsidies, financial resources should be provided by international financial organizations that provide financial assistance to all countries affected by COVID-19 to cope with the consequences.
In order to guarantee sufficient supplies of essential items, the Government should decide on the activation of state reserves by assessing the demands of citizens, abolish the excise duty on fuels in order to guarantee sufficient reserves at the state level, and subsidize the manufacturing activities of essential items, such as food and pharmaceuticals products.
In any situation, the American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo and the Kosovo Chamber of Commerce call on the Government of the country to lead a process of close dialogue with the chambers of commerce, civil society, and individual experts in order to make inclusive decisions.