Prishtina, 27 July 2020 – The American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo organized a virtual forum in which economic recovery prospects, the steps forward for ensuring a future for businesses in different industries as well as the avoiding of a deeper economic crisis that would cause the bankruptcy of several businesses, especially SMEs were discussed. Funding for this virtual forum was provided by the EBRD and the European Union’s Enterprise Development Investment Facility.
Michael Gold, Managing Director at Crimson Capital stressed that most of the programs set by the Government and the support from international donors are quite positive for the country’s economy, nevertheless, the more their implementation is delayed the more damage accrues. According to Gold, in order to address the problems businesses are facing with liquidity, it would be good to encourage the use of non-traditional financial instruments such as factoring and leasing among others. He mentioned that businesses are usually not even aware of such instruments, while the legal framework for their use exists in the country. According to Gold, in order to ensure economic recovery, the Government of Kosovo must give importance to proper health management of the pandemic, and take measures for development of the most affected sectors. He was quite optimistic about the country’s economic recovery if all stakeholders were to work hard and overcome pandemic problems, while saying that sectors such as ICT, finance and agriculture will have opportunities to strengthen further.
Leonora Kusari, Principal Manager at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Advice for Small Businesses, expressed concern about the inaction of institutions and the delay in implementation of the necessary measures to support the private sector, emphasizing that small and medium enterprises are particularly at risk for survival during this time. According to Kusari, the Government must respond with specific support programs targeting specific sectors, while emphasizing that the service sector which includes many small businesses, is among the most affected. She stated that there is a need to blend different financial instruments and create incentives which encourage investments, including grants, while adding that not only business processes but also those of the Government must be digitalized urgently. Kusari pointed out that the EBRD has many instruments that they are trying to put into use, but they are not meeting market demand for these instruments, in which case she reiterated the need to educate businesses regarding the various financial instruments that exist in the country. She stated that Kosovar businesses have always been survivors, and have never relied on government assistance, but now is the time for the latter to offer support, while expressing that she strongly believes in the country’s economic recovery.
Besa Ilazi, Project Management Specialist at the USAID Office for Economic Growth, stressed that even before the pandemic broke out in Kosovo, one of the biggest problems reported by citizens was unemployment, and the current situation has only worsened this phenomenon. Ilazi stressed that from USAID’s point of view, many companies must be provided with assistance in order to avoid bankruptcy. Ilazi also stressed the importance of public debt in this critical situation, especially considering that the country has no monetary policy, where she said that the Government should focus on the best ways to achieve economic recovery. According to her, any kind of development for economic recovery without proper management of the health crisis will be meaningless therefore both must occur simultaneously. Finally, Ilazi said that adapting to this new environment is inevitable, thus she is very positive regarding the country’s economic recovery.