First wind farm in Albania to be financed by Italian company

TIRANA, Jan.3 – Italian company Italgest, plans to invest 180 million euro ($238.1 million) in a wind farm for Albania. The company website announced that the wind farm is designed to be in Durres, on the Adriatic Sea. It will

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The main economic events in 2006

TIRANA, Jan. 4 – These are some of the events that characterized Albania’s economic life during 2006.. January: World Bank sets $196 million for Albania in the next four years. February: Rehabilitated bridge to Mother Teresa International Airport made by

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Energy cuts resume: Less energy imports available from Greece

TIRANA, Jan.4 – After the short break accorded to Albanians for the holidays of the New Year, power shortages have started once again to paralyze activity throughout the country. Despite some new rainfall the hydropower generating facility in the Fierza

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Central Bank of Albania sets goals for 2007

TIRANA, Dec. 29 – The Monitoring Council of the central Bank of Albania discussed the most recent monetary developments in the country taking the proper steps to continue supporting the economic growth and preserving inflationist rates. Annual inflation in November

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Migration, Trade and Investment: a positive sum game among neighbors

Addressing a conference on Greek-Albanian relationships, organized last month in Albania, Antigone Lyberaki, Professor of Economics at the Panteion University in Athens, brought not only a thorough economic perspective but a new and refreshing voice. Her speech brings a completely

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ITU reports internet usage still low in Albania

TIRANA, Jan 8. – International Telecommunication Union, a company that monitors the spread and usage of Internet throughout the world published data according to which Albania still needs to undertake major encouragement projects for the spread of Internet. Only 2.4

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KESH manages to pass the challenge of New Years

TIRANA, Jan. 1 – The Albanian Electro-Energy Corporation,9 KESH, had a very difficult job to keep up with the high demand for electricity over New Year days. It managed to secure a normal supply, according to Albanian quotas, only based

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Less custom fees this year due to EU lower tariffs

TIRANA, Jan. 3 – Albanian business will have less taxes starting from Jan. 1 because of the temporary agreement with the European Union. It is expected that custom tariffs will be gradually reduced until they become zero by 2011. The

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Tobacco taxes change, price rise expected in July of 2007

TIRANA, Dec. 29 – Under the recommendations of IMF and the UN for increasing the price of cigarettes, the Albanian Finance Ministry has raised a team of experts who recently approved a new higher tax for cigarettes that reaches the

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Detention Centre in Vlora to get new equipment from EU

TIRANA, Jan.4 – The Tenders Electronic Daily, which is the supplement database to the EU’s Official Journal, reported on its website last week that the European Union would call a tender for new supplies to be given to the Vlora

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan.3 - Italian company Italgest, plans to invest 180 million euro ($238.1 million) in a wind farm for Albania. The company website announced that the wind farm is designed to be in Durres, on the Adriatic Sea. It will have 75 turbines with a total generating capacity of more than 150 megawatts. The project is expected to be approved by Albanian authorities this June while production is due to begin in 2009. The company expects 25 million euro in sales for the first year of operations. The wind farm will be the first of its kind in Albania. The country is suffering power cuts despite continuous promises form the government that a crisis would be avoided. Power cuts have been up to six hours a day in the capital Tirana and up to 13 hours in provincial cities. Consumers in rural areas have suffered the worst, with shortages up to 20.5 hours. The country's power utility KESH has outdated energy utilities, unable to produce enough electricity to meet domestic demand. It has tried to meet the shortages with imports and renewable energy is expected to reduce its dependence on these. Unfavorable weather conditions are worsening the situation with the Fierza Lake near its dead point.
Italgest is active in energy, real estate, information and communications technology (ICT) and the services sector. It has 7.8 percent of shares in Italian renewable energy company Actelios. Currently it is building two wind farms and an 11 megawatt solar centre in the southern region of Puglia.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 4 - These are some of the events that characterized Albania's economic life during 2006..

January: World Bank sets $196 million for Albania in the next four years.
February: Rehabilitated bridge to Mother Teresa International Airport made by the Hochtief group, or Tirana Airport Partners Corporation that is managing the airport. Government creates the Albanian Agency for Business Promotion. Central Bank of Albania (BoA) presents the monetary plan for 2006 BoA creates the office of information of crediting. Albania-Croatia business forum held in Tirana.
March: Microsoft launches the Albanian version. National conference on the strategy for hydro-carbures held in Tirana to present the plan until 2015. Conference on strengthening cooperation in Southeastern Europe held in Tirana Government liberalizes issuing licenses for fuels. Conference on Albanian immigrants' remittances held in Puglia, Italy. Albania-Macedonia business forum held in Tirana. American Chamber of Commerce and Greek Chamber of Commerce hold in Tirana conference on business legal aspects in Southeastern Europe
April Albania signs with Greece a deal on the cooperation in posts and electronic communication. Italy gives Albania a 15.3 million Euro loan for Vlora port rehabilitation. ASG Powers introduces project to build a power station and re-gasification center in Seman, Fier. Canadian company Saxson to invest $230 million for Patos-Marinze oil field rehabilitation
May: Crans Montana Forum held in Tirana. Albania signs the agreement on the railway cooperation at the meeting of the Southeast European Cooperation Program held in Salonika, Greece. Government passes the national plan of transport. Albania and Israel sign an agreement on air cooperation. An inter-border memorandum with Montenegro signed in Shkodra for the cooperation in the Shkodra Lake.
Deloitte Czech Republic company selected in an international tender to audit the privatization of Albtelecom to the Turkish Calik company. Albania signs the protocol of cooperation in energy exchange with Macedonia. SanPaolo Imi group in Italy buys public shares of the Albanian-Italian Bank. Government reduces electricity price by 33 percent for business, according to Prime Minister Sali Berisha.
June: KESH creates a task force to study its restructuring. Conference on competition and public assistance held in Tirana. Albania-Slovenia economic forum held in Tirana. Albania-Malaysia economic forum held in Tirana.
July: Italy gives 21.7 million Euro loan for the rehabilitation of the Shkodra-Hani I Hotit road segment. No more customs tariffs with Kosova
August: U.S. company Bechtel won the international tender for the rehabilitation of the Rreshen-Kalimash road segment, the most difficult part of the Durres-Kukes-Morine road link. National Agency of Natural Resources created.
September: British Medoil plc sign agreement on hydro-carbures. Central European Initiative (CEI) conference on energy held in Tirana. Lower cost tariffs for mobile phone calls. Berisha presents Albania, 1 Euro project idea. The Economist Intelligence Unit holds conference in Tirana
October: Government signs the deal with Bechtel company for the work on Rreshen-Kalimash road segment. Albania and Kosova sign agreements of cooperation in energy.
November: Albania signs the CEFTA membership in Brussels, Belgium. CEI economic Forum held in Tirana
December: European Investment Bank gives an 18 million Euro loan for the rehabilitation of the Durres port, building a new terminal for ferries' passengers.
Free Trade Agreement with Turkey signed. BoA passes report on monetary goals for 2007.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan.4 - After the short break accorded to Albanians for the holidays of the New Year, power shortages have started once again to paralyze activity throughout the country. Despite some new rainfall the hydropower generating facility in the Fierza Lake is still under no optimal conditions of operation. A new problem is also appearing for the import alternative. Albania's secure imports stretch up until the end of the first week of the year. The agreement signed between KESH and the Greek energy corporation for the transmission of energy in the southern lines ends on January 7. KES Executive head, Andi Beli has expressed strong interest in reissuing the agreement. A new agreement requires a joint effort form the ministries of economics and energy for the two neighboring countries. A new agreement can be only for one month given the Greek legal framework. KESH hopes to get a new deal under the new framework of regional cooperation in the filed of energy, one of the priority cooperation arenas. After the closing of Kozloduy, upon Bulgaria's accession into the EU, Greece is the only alternative for switching the import pattern from East to West. According to Beli, the historical structure of energy imports impedes the change and makes it more difficult for the corporation to handle the current on-going crisis with difficult power shortages plaguing the country. Transmission lines passing through Greece have a capacity of 400 kV. Beli signed an agreement last month with Greece to import 60000 MW/h for the first three months of 2007. 6 million kW/h more daily are expected to improve the situation, adding to the total figure of 20 million kW/h, including local production. The later is only 14 million kW/h, far from meeting local demand. The deal focuses on energy provision in the night hours and also includes Albania's obligation to return the amount in the summer months when demand is lower. Better news follow form the Northern lines of Prizren in Kosova and Podgorica in Montenegro. Beli reported that these lines will securely transmit energy imported form Austria and Italy.
                    [post_title] =>  Energy cuts resume: Less energy imports available from Greece 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Dec. 29 - The Monitoring Council of the central Bank of Albania discussed the most recent monetary developments in the country taking the proper steps to continue supporting the economic growth and preserving inflationist rates.
Annual inflation in November remained at 2.9 percent or lower than the three percent margin set from the Bank. It was influenced from the higher consumer prices ahead of the New Year festivities. The annual rate was 0.9 percent and that of the 11 months this year 2.4 percent. Inflation was also negatively affected by the increased electricity price which had affected it by 7 percent in November. The report of the bank said that the macro-economic general context was stable. Prices were also influenced from higher [prices in neighboring Italy and Greece, from where the Albanian wholesale businessmen get most of their products. The bank did not forget to remind the over-price of the lek compared to hard currencies.
Bank credits in the previous year had increased by 57.2 percent in October and its ratio to the GDP increased by 0.8 percent points that month reaching the figure of 19.5 percent. The budget sufficit in October fell by 3.6 billion leks and the government request for money increased by 6.4 billion leks. That helped to keep inflation low.
The bank also approved the monetary report for 2007 which is the basis of its work during the year. During 2007 the bank will aim at improving its tools of analysis and envisage of the economic and monetary policies and also transmit its decisions to the banking system and the financial markets in the country. The bank repeated that preserving the macro-economic stability is a precondition to secure a stable and long-term economic growth. That means equilibrium of the different sectors of economy, increase of employment, keeping inflation rate low or under control. The Bank report also insisted that its work would concentrate on preserving the prices' stability. It would preserve the short-term interest rates.
The bank set keeping annual inflation at three percent (plus or minus 1 percentage point) was the main goal of the year 2007. That means that rate will follow the rate of the last six years. The bank would also aim at keeping the increase of the monetary offer M3 at 11.9 per cent in 2007. The main financial institution also set the goal of the domestic budget deficit at 25 billion leks. It also said it had no intention of intervening into the domestic hard currency market, tough it has normally been different all these years. It has time and again intervened in small amounts to keep exchange rates under control.
A main topic of interest for the bank in 2007 would be its transparency to the public. It said and listed the documents it would make public in 2007.
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                    [post_content] => Addressing a conference on Greek-Albanian relationships, organized last month in Albania, Antigone Lyberaki, Professor of Economics at the Panteion University in Athens, brought not only a thorough economic perspective but a new and refreshing voice. Her speech brings a completely scientific and rational approach to the economic aspect of the immigration issue. Thanking the author for her courtesy, Tirana Times brings the full text in this issue:

"In talking about relations between neighboring states, I will start with an anecdote: In the late 1980s, at a time when economic good news was very scarce in Greece and news bulletins were full of problems, a radio commentator, after listing the Greek economic problems of that day, went on to say: "And now for some good news: Inflation in Turkey has risen". At that time there was an unspoken assumption that relations between neighbors were what we economists call "A Zero Sum Game". What one side gains, the other side loses. And, what one side loses, the other side gains.
Now, thankfully, very few people subscribe to this view of international relations. Interdependence means that relations are positive sum game, where it is in the interests of both sides that the other side should do well.
But how positive is it? In Spain, some 8% of the population (3.7 million people) are immigrants. A report written by the Prime Minister's main economic adviser (Miguel Sebastian) says 30% of Spanish growth in the past 10 years and 50% in the last five has been thanks to immigrants. The report says "immigrants have contributed to the creation of 50% of new jobs and have contributed net 23 billion euros to the Treasury every year. 
Yet, and this is the paradox, the thing most often mentioned in the press is how Spain tries to limit immigration with naval patrols in the Atlantic and repatriation deals with African countries.
But why mention Spain? My research has shown that an equally positive effect has been in operation in Greece. Some IMF calculations concur with this. The example of Spain, and the analysis of Dr. Sebastian, only serves to show in a neutral manner that the Greek and Albanian case is no exception.
However, the contrast with Spain serves to illustrate another vital point. Spanish immigration is composed of people from a large number of countries -from North Africa, from South Saharan Africa, from Latin America, some from Eastern Europe. No one country dominates and hence what happens in the countries of origin is of limited impact to the Spanish economy.
Take Greece and Albania. The overwhelming majority of immigrants in Greece are Albanians. Similarly, immigrants to Greece form a substantial proportion of Albanian emigration. These labor flows are complemented with trade in both directions and lately, by substantial outflows of capital from Greece to Albania. Greece and Albania, therefore, have a potentially very dense network of interactions which span the totality of economic relations. That is an important element of the difference with Spain.
The potential of the positive sum game between Greece and Albania is much larger than that between Spain and source countries. In a paper with L. Lambrianidis and other colleagues, we have shown that immigrants are well above the poverty line and their contribution to poverty and inequality is insignificant. They display considerable occupational and social mobility. Their housing conditions improve with time as their income. After an initial period of difficulties, an increasing number of immigrants start up their own business. About trade flows, the research points out that Greece's trade relations with the Balkans increased very rapidly after 1990, most notably Greek exports. This alleviated part of the pressure of diminishing exports towards Greece's main trading partner, the EU. As far as Direct Foreign Investment is concerned the expansion of Greek enterprises abroad is very much a recent phenomenon (last 15 years). Although the available data do not give a very accurate picture, our estimate by the end of the 1990s was that more than 80% of Greek Direct Foreign Investment projects in the area were concentrated in three countries (Bulgaria, Albania and Romania), all of which are also source countries of emigration to Greece.
Our main argument was that these three trends are not only linked but also that they are mutually reinforcing. Flows of investment, commodities and people create important mutual externalities, both at the micro -i.e. the firm- level, and at the macro level due to multiplier effects and increasing synchronization. Re-establishment of historical trading and economic patterns is part of a process of re-integration of the Balkan region. After more than half a century of enforced separation, the Balkan are gradually becoming a unitary economic space. Trade, investment and people movement all contribute to this process.
One can talk about these things, the potential and real achievements of economic cooperation, for a very long time. However, the point I want to make in this audience is different and is related to the Spanish paradox with which I began my talk.
As in the case of Spain, and perhaps more so in the case of Greece because of the density of economic ties, what we are essentially seeing is the possibility of further economic benefits being limited by fears of social or cultural reaction. Better understanding and greater confluence of values can be translated into hard economic gains. This observation is borne out by research done by Migration Policy Institute in Washington. In comparing the economic effects of migration in various host countries, they found that societies exhibiting greater appreciation of immigrants' contribution, ended up with greater economic gains and less problems. Whereas, societies locked-in xenophobic attitudes and perceptions, ended up with fewer economic benefits from migration and bigger problems."  

Antigone Lyberaki, Professor of Economics, Panteion University, Athens. Speech delivered in the first panel of the conference "Greek-Albanian relationships", organized in Tirana by the Institute for Peace and Communication on November 18, 2006. 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan 8. - International Telecommunication Union, a company that monitors the spread and usage of Internet throughout the world published data according to which Albania still needs to undertake major encouragement projects for the spread of Internet. Only 2.4 percent of the population is familiar with internet and uses it regularly according to the table that summarizes the yearly progress of Albanian concerning the global medium of information exchange. For the majority of household consumers, Internet is being provided by the only fixed telecommunication company, Albtelecom. Albtelecom receives the access from the Italian Telecom through the connection 6x2 Mb/s using optic fibers installed along the bottom of Adriatic Sea for telecommunication purposes.
Actually they have been working to realize a second connection with internet to extend the bandwidth and to establish an independent network. The increase of the number of the users has been encouraged from Internet Caf곮 There are more than 30 of them in Tirana and plenty in other cities as well. Daily users count for a total of 2800 hours on average. ITU statistics show that the usage of Internet has bee increasing at different pace during the last years. The latest initiatives regarding Internet use encouragement have come from both political specters in Albania which have realized the importance of information in the global era. Tirana Mayor, Edi Rama, has promoted a free wireless area surrounding the Cultural Center Arbnori (the Pyramid). This is the first in its kind. Free wireless zones are common abroad, in airports, stations and university campuses. The second initiative, called "Albania in the Internet Age", was launched by the Prime Minister Sali Berisha. The initiative aims at providing Internet service to the majority of Albanian schools and households in order to assist the qualitative education of the young generation.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 1 - The Albanian Electro-Energy Corporation,9 KESH, had a very difficult job to keep up with the high demand for electricity over New Year days. It managed to secure a normal supply, according to Albanian quotas, only based on the production of some 10.5 million kWh from the local hydropower plants and the Fieri thermo plant. Some 22-25 million kWh were used during the Dec. 31-Jan.1 night and the KESH technicians had hard times trying to repair cable cuts. The KESH also secured enough from the import, though it had to deal with another demand for higher payment from the Greek counterparts which served to transfer power from Italy. Nevertheless it expects that the demand will surpass 20 million kWh per day in January which will impose daily cuts throughout the country.
                    [post_title] =>  KESH manages to pass the challenge of New Years 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan. 3 - Albanian business will have less taxes starting from Jan. 1 because of the temporary agreement with the European Union. It is expected that custom tariffs will be gradually reduced until they become zero by 2011. The government has pledged however it will still increase revenues from taxes that will reach the level of 23.5 percent of the GDP.
                    [post_title] =>  Less custom fees this year due to EU lower tariffs 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Dec. 29 - Under the recommendations of IMF and the UN for increasing the price of cigarettes, the Albanian Finance Ministry has raised a team of experts who recently approved a new higher tax for cigarettes that reaches the amount of 50 leks per pack. The old tax was 40 leks per pack. This change will be immediately reflected in the price of cigarettes which is expected to rise by 10 leks per pack in July of 2007. The tax has been increasing since 2005 and is expected to reach its maximum in 2009 by 75 leks per pack. Albanians are among the highest consumers of cigarettes with a special percentage of young and teenager users. The special tax applied on the so-called "damaging goods" applies to tobacco, alcohol, coffee and other goods whose consumption exceeds by far the rate of production. The demand for these goods is inelastic as they have few substitutes in the market. Tobacco is taxed separately under Albanian legislation which includes it under another list, that of health risky goods. 
                    [post_title] =>  Tobacco taxes change, price rise expected in July of 2007 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan.4 - The Tenders Electronic Daily, which is the supplement database to the EU's Official Journal, reported on its website last week that the European Union would call a tender for new supplies to be given to the Vlora detention center. The tender will be organized on March 6 and potential candidates should file their applications by 4 pm one day earlier, on March 5. The tender aims at hiring a supplier of equipment for the pre-trial detention facility. This facility in the southern coast city of Vlora is intended to provide accommodation for all pre-trial detention inmates. It will have medical facilities, a visitors' area, offices for the administration, and other necessary spaces. The capacity of the Vlora pre-trial detention centre, with an area of 6,700 square meters, is 115 detainees. The estimated cost of the construction of the pre-trial detention centre at Vlore is 1.5 million euro. The project will be financed by the EU's CARDS program for the country for 2003. It is scheduled to be completed in September 2007. The cost for the supply services are covered by EU's Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation (CARDS) program for Albania for 2004 under a project for renovation and construction of pre-trial detention centers worth 870,000 euro ($1.1 million). Both these projects are part of Albania's strategy  to improve the capacity of its penitentiary system and the living conditions of inmates.
                    [post_title] =>  Detention Centre in Vlora to get new equipment from EU 
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            [post_content] => TIRANA, Jan.3 - Italian company Italgest, plans to invest 180 million euro ($238.1 million) in a wind farm for Albania. The company website announced that the wind farm is designed to be in Durres, on the Adriatic Sea. It will have 75 turbines with a total generating capacity of more than 150 megawatts. The project is expected to be approved by Albanian authorities this June while production is due to begin in 2009. The company expects 25 million euro in sales for the first year of operations. The wind farm will be the first of its kind in Albania. The country is suffering power cuts despite continuous promises form the government that a crisis would be avoided. Power cuts have been up to six hours a day in the capital Tirana and up to 13 hours in provincial cities. Consumers in rural areas have suffered the worst, with shortages up to 20.5 hours. The country's power utility KESH has outdated energy utilities, unable to produce enough electricity to meet domestic demand. It has tried to meet the shortages with imports and renewable energy is expected to reduce its dependence on these. Unfavorable weather conditions are worsening the situation with the Fierza Lake near its dead point.
Italgest is active in energy, real estate, information and communications technology (ICT) and the services sector. It has 7.8 percent of shares in Italian renewable energy company Actelios. Currently it is building two wind farms and an 11 megawatt solar centre in the southern region of Puglia.
            [post_title] =>  First wind farm in Albania to be financed by Italian company 
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