Internal political war poses danger to enterprises and jobs in Kosovo

Prishtina, June 28, 2020 – Preventive measures against the spread of COVID19 pandemic have severely limited economic activity. This brings consequences of high costs for the recovery of an economy with a structure as unstable as that of Kosovo’s, due to the long-term threat for enterprises, jobs, and budgetary stability. Under such circumstances, rapid and consensual national action is imperative, thus the American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo urges all institutions of Kosovo, both from the executive and the legislative, as well as political parties, to avoid internal political hostility and pursue a dynamic agenda of action that would enable rapid state intervention for enterprises and employees at risk.

AmCham strongly believes that considering the current challenges the private sector in particular and the country’s economy in general is facing, it is beyond necessary for the disagreements on topics of political nature to not dominate the ones related to private sector support and economic recovery after COVID19.

Failure to fully implement Fiscal Emergency Package measures and the delay in approving a recovery program both due to Kosovo Assembly’s delayed approval of budget review and international loan agreements that are crucial to the implementation of state intervention measures, pose a serious threat on tens of thousands of jobs. These delays are the aftermath of the failure of internal institutional and political coordination and agreement, but also of the insincere and deficient public-private dialogue during the past four months. This will inevitably make Kosovo lose its track in economic recovery, thus making it impossible to provide a more promising perspective for its citizens.

While all statements of AmCham and other organizations representing private sector interests in the country have spoken of the dramatic restrictions on economic activity, confirmed by data from authorities such as Tax Administration and Customs, the same concerns do not seem to have alarmed state decision-makers and political parties. The latter have unfortunately given priority to political issues by choosing to emphasize their disagreements.

AmCham reminds Kosovo’s political leaders that economic development requires a unified national approach among all political and non-political stakeholders, which would culminate in a national economic development strategy and guarantee consistency in economic governance for the upcoming years. The deeply divisive political discourse of recent months unfortunately does not contribute to the abovementioned goals.

In case of further delay of support for the private sector, the following months will reveal the real consequences of COVID19 in the country’s economy, which will result in massive collapse of enterprises, increase in unemployment and poverty, reduction of budget revenues and therefore the state’s ability to provide public services and capital investments.

During the second half of 2020, the Government of Kosovo must engage with unparalleled seriousness in fulfilling the legislative agenda for this year, while the deputies of the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo are expected to focus the parliamentary debate on economic aspects instead of close political disagreements and debates on unnecessary topics which hinder reform and progress, rapid economic growth, and increase of social welfare.

Finally, the American Chamber of Commerce emphasizes the need to increase the dynamism of the National Council for Economic Development, where the private sector must be given space to play a leading role in the development of the recovery program,  the reformation of doing business environment as well as the strengthening of the private sector in Kosovo.