Albania to translate impressive gains into sustained growth

TIRANA, Nov. 21 – The Finance Ministry made public a recent publication from the International Monetary Fund reporting on Albania. The IMF Survey of Nov. 20 prepared by N Geoffrey Oestreicher of the IMF European Department dedicated a page to

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Durres Port launches Tender to Build Ferry Passenger Terminal

DURRES, Nov.20 – A new international tender for the construction of a ferry passenger terminal at its major Adriatic port of Durres, was launched on Monday. The estimated value of the project is 40 million euro ($51.3 million), according to

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Meeting of agriculture experts in Lezha

LEZHA, Nov. 17 – The 82th national meeting of the Albanian agriculture experts was held Friday in the north-western town of Lezha. Minister Jemin Gjana said that this year agriculture has had a 2-17 percent growth. The minister said however

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Gazprom to expand in Albania and Israel

Moscow, Nov. 21 – Gazprom is considering the possibility of expanding in the natural gas markets of Albania and Israel. Sergei Yemelyanov, deputy CEO of Gazexport, which is Gazprom’s fully owned subsidiary, gave the news at the fourth International Forum

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ProCredit bank opens new branch in Kucova

KUCOVA, Nov. 17 – The ProCredit bank opened Friday a new branch in the central town of Kucova to offer all its services to the local customers there. That takes the number of its branches to 22 countrywise. The new

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Study shows Korca field needs $6 mln investment for irrigation

TIRANA, Nov. 21 – A meeting of the Agriculture Ministry and the World Bank focused on the irrigation situation of the Korca field. A study showed that an urgent investment was needed to keep the field at shape. Such investment

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Vodafone registers significant gains in market share

TIRANA, Nov.17 – Vodafone Albania has 77,000 new users in the first half of 2006. The news was given by its owner company, the important British telecommunications Vodafone last week. The numbers translate into a significant 21.7 percent increase compared

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Albanian BKT Bank reports rise in profits

TIRANA, Nov.13 – Albania’s privately-held National Commercial Bank (BKT), the second largest in terms of assets, TOTAL ASSETS of $774.319 million, reported an $8.1 million (6.3 million euro) net profit through September, up 26.6 percent from the year-ago period, bank

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EU accords Pre-Accession Aid for Southeastern European Aspiring Countries

BRUSSELS, Nov.10 – As of 1 January 2007 there will be a new financial tool for all pre-accession activities funded by the European Commission, namely the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA). The news was posted on the EU executive website.

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ABA improves services to selected customers

Tirana, Nov. 13 – American Bank of Albania (ABA) has introduced a new innovative product to enhance the online activity of its customers. ABA provides an online service for its existing clients called ABA flex. ABAflex online banking includes options

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 21 - The Finance Ministry made public a recent publication from the International Monetary Fund reporting on Albania. The IMF Survey of Nov. 20 prepared by N Geoffrey Oestreicher of the IMF European Department dedicated a page to the tiny Balkan country. 
Albania has made impressive progress over the past 15 years. When the country began its transition to a market economy, it had the lowest level of per capita income, trade openness, and market development in Europe. It is still among Europe's poorest countries. But, notwithstanding some setbacks since 1991, the rapid growth engendered by a concerted series of structural reforms and by a strong commitment to macroeconomic stability has more than doubled Albania's per capita income and steadily reduced the income gap with its neighbors.
A wide range of macroeconomic indicators signal progress. Public debt as a percent of GDP is declining, inflationary expectations are firmly grounded at low levels, financial intermediation is rising, confidence is steadily increasing, and in the virtual absence of capital controls, the freely floating exchange rate continues a trend appreciation. With its development strategy designed to contain the size of government and seek private sector-led solutions for all but essential core government functions, Albania's fiscal management has found an effective anchor, and the privatization process for the remaining large government assets is reaching its final phase. The government's strong policies are chiefly responsible for this success, but the IMF has also played an integral role. The Fund has lent support through most of the transition processئirst through its low-income country Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) and, more recently, in view of the rapid rise of incomes, through a blend of PRGF and Extended Fund Facility financing. Equally important, technical assistanceذarticularly in the monetary and fiscal areasبas been generous, in part reflecting the unusually high degree of implementation.

On to the next step
One measure of Albania's success to date is that the authoritiesנsupported by IMF staff and the Executive Boardخow envisage graduating from program status in early 2009 with the expiration of its current financing arrangement with the IMF. The challenge ahead will be not simply to maintain high growth but also to ensure its quality and sustainability over the longer term. With early efficiency gains from transition largely exhausted, more permanent sources of growth will be needed to ensure success and further reduce the income gap with its neighbors. Expanding the export base and improving both infrastructure and regulatory frameworks are key, and here the issue of institutional quality becomes paramount. By most available measures of corruption, law and order, and bureaucratic quality, Albania lags behind the middle-income, high-growth countries it aspires to emulate. A reflection of these issues is that both foreign investment and exports remain very low as a percentage of GDP. Albania's success after 2009 will depend to a significant degree on its ability to sustain implementation of strong policies, improve its investment climate, and reduce its still considerable vulnerabilities. Those areas that fall within the Fund's core competencies therefore constitute important pillars of the current program. For example, comprehensive reformsطith key actions supported by the conditions that the IMF attaches to its lendingءre currently being implemented to strengthen banking supervision, tax administration, and debt management. With strong technical assistance support from the IMF, significant advances have been achieved, and the country's fiscal and other institutions are expected to be markedly stronger by 2009. A substantial reform agenda will remain after graduation in 2009. Donors with appropriate expertise are expected to help Albania tackle medium-term priorities, such as infrastructure development, anticorruption measures, legal and regulatory reforms, and formalizing ownership relationships. Efforts in these areas will support and be supported by the recent approval of the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union and prospective membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
                    [post_title] =>  Albania to translate impressive gains into sustained growth 
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                    [post_content] => DURRES, Nov.20 - A new international tender for the construction of a ferry passenger terminal at its major Adriatic port of Durres, was launched on Monday. The estimated value of the project is 40 million euro ($51.3 million), according to the Ministry of Transportation. "Investments in the port's terminal will begin in early 2007," according to the declaration. The statement said that the project includes: the construction of a passenger ferry terminal, reconstruction of associated infrastructure, provision of safety elements for ferry boats, as well as reconstruction of two quays at the port and building an access road to the ferry terminal. The financing will be under the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) who declared in October its intention to provide some 14-18 million euro for construction of the port's ferry passenger terminal. The same bank has financed previous projects related to the same port. In mid-2006 Albania completed up a 10.1 million euro project financed by to increase the capacity of the port. The renovation allows the processing of up to 75,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) containers. 
 The ministry has published the following data about the new terminal. It will have a steel-and-glass main building of 5,400 m2, the necessary space for the passenger flow. A parking space of  63,500 m2    will be allocated to port vehicles. Parking space for passenger vehicles will be  2,100 m2 . there will be a foot bridge connecting the port to the train station, with the estimated lengths of 226 m, making access to transportation easier. Check points for incoming and outgoing passengers that are estimated to reach a number of 2000 in peak hour. The necessary space and equipment will be allocated to customs services. The Terminal will be complete with all the contemporary facilities such as: bar, restaurant, waiting room, internet access points, etc.
The Durres port handles 80 percent of Albania's port trade. The port's latest data showed that its cargo traffic in the first ten months of 2006 rose by 11 percent compared to last year. In the same period passenger numbers fell slightly (less than 1 percent).
Given the strategic position of the Durres port, which lies at the western end of pan-European transportation Eighth Corridor, Albania seeks to overhaul the port's infrastructure, rebuild its quays and bring the facility into line with European Union standards. The corridor links the Adriatic and Ionian coasts to the Black Sea coast, through Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria.
                    [post_title] =>  Durres Port launches Tender to Build Ferry Passenger Terminal  
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                    [post_content] => LEZHA, Nov. 17 - The 82th national meeting of the Albanian agriculture experts was held Friday in the north-western town of Lezha. Minister Jemin Gjana said that this year agriculture has had a 2-17 percent growth. The minister said however that the orientation of the products to the import has created a great shortcoming in the daily development. As an example he said that some 500 hectares of agriculture land was needed to plant them with potatoes but they could not be found. He criticized that the politics was not giving guideline to the farmers. The minister said that crating the appropriate and required standards needed a lot of work. In March 2006, eight fish units were closed for not fulfilling the standards. Three of them made the necessary investment and resumed production in three months. The minister said the government had created a $5 million fund to support agriculture. That would be used only for vineyards and fruit trees though the request could be for $25 million, he said.
                    [post_title] =>  Meeting of agriculture experts in Lezha 
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                    [post_content] => Moscow, Nov. 21 - Gazprom is considering the possibility of expanding in the natural gas markets of Albania and Israel. Sergei Yemelyanov, deputy CEO of Gazexport, which is Gazprom's fully owned subsidiary, gave the news at the fourth International Forum "Russian Gas 2006". Albania is of particular interest to Gazprom not only in the marketing sphere, but also as a transit country for gas deliveries to Italy, according to him. Yemelyanov also reminded that Gazprom's subsidiary Gazprom Marketing and Trading Ltd. has opened a marketing company in Paris, and the first contracts on gas deliveries to end users have been signed.
                    [post_title] =>  Gazprom to expand in Albania and Israel  
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                    [post_content] => KUCOVA, Nov. 17 - The ProCredit bank opened Friday a new branch in the central town of Kucova to offer all its services to the local customers there. That takes the number of its branches to 22 countrywise. The new branch aims at covering the whole district of Kucova with some 48,000 inhabitants. Bank officials said that one third of the credit protfolio in the neighboring Berat district belonged to the Kucova residents and that pushed them to open the new branch. Kucova residents have taken loans of more than 700,000 euro from the bank. ProCredit Bank is present in 19 countries from Latin America to Europe. It has offices in Kosova, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Rumania, Bosnia, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Serbi and it supports small and medium sized businesses.
                    [post_title] =>  ProCredit bank opens new branch in Kucova 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 21 - A meeting of the Agriculture Ministry and the World Bank focused on the irrigation situation of the Korca field. A study showed that an urgent investment was needed to keep the field at shape. Such investment is normal in the field every 20-25 years. The last one was made in 1981 and now the field has fallen up to four meters because of floods. 
                    [post_title] =>  Study shows Korca field needs $6 mln investment for irrigation 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov.17 - Vodafone Albania has 77,000 new users in the first half of 2006. The news was given by its owner company, the important British telecommunications Vodafone last week.  The numbers translate into a significant 21.7 percent increase compared to last year. Vodafone published a new financial report highlighting its key performance indicator. For the first six months of the current year Albania had 868,000 subscribers at the end of September this year, according to the report issued by Vodafone. A majority of its customers, ranging at 96.9 percent, are taking advantage of prepaid services. Recently the company has launched better prices for its prepaid contractual arrangements and new services targeted at small businesses, including Internet services. Vodafone Albania's customer base increased by 9.7 percent for the second quarter of its 2006 fiscal year, which ends on March 31, 2007.Average monthly revenue per user, on the quarter ending September, increased as well reaching 2,311 leks ($23.8/18.6 euro), compared to 2,122 leks in the previous quarter and to 2,534 leks in the same period last year. Mobile users are definitely talking more give the voice minutes in the quarter through September which totaled 166 million. Previous figures were 148 million minutes in the quarter through June and 144 million minutes in the corresponding period last year.
Vodafone Albania started operating in 2001, as the second mobile operator in Albania. The first mobile services provider on the Albanian market was AMC. Vodafone Albania is owned by Vodafone-Panafon, a consortium of Vodafone International Holding and Greek telecommunication company Panafon. It had an estimated 49.1% share in the domestic mobile market at the end of September, when there were around 1.769 million wireless users in Albania out of 3.13million total inhabitants.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov.13 - Albania's privately-held National Commercial Bank (BKT), the second largest in terms of assets, TOTAL ASSETS of $774.319 million, reported an $8.1 million (6.3 million euro) net profit through September, up 26.6 percent from the year-ago period, bank data showed. BKT, which now is one of the wholly foreign-owned banks in Albania, was established in July 1997 with capital of 2.7 million leks ($26,000/22,000 euro) held by the state-run Albanian Commercial Bank (BTSH) and the Commercial Bank of Albania (BKSH). Now it has a share capital of $33 million and a total shareholders' equity of $41.4 million. It ran a network of 25 outlets countrywide at the end of September. The bank started banking operations in 1998 and two years later its owners sold 60% to Turkey's Kent Bank and 20% each to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank's private investment arm, the International Finance Corporation. Kent Bank's stake in BKT, which passed to the Turkish state-owned Savings Deposit Insurance Fund in 2001, was sold to Turkish consortium Calik-Seker last year.

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                    [post_content] => BRUSSELS, Nov.10 - As of 1 January 2007 there will be a new financial tool for all pre-accession activities funded by the European Commission, namely the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA). The news was posted on the EU executive website. It also included the schedule of all aid that will be provided between 2007 and 2009 to all European Union aspiring-Western Balkan countries. The amount of aid reaches 1.95 billion euro ($2.5 billion) in EU pre-accession aid, according to the statement of the European Commission. IPA will entirely replace previous assistance instruments such as CARDS program (EU's Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilization). This instrument is designed to provide for targeted and effective assistance for each country according to its needs and evolution.   IPA has five components: transition assistance and institution building; cross-border cooperation; regional development; human resources development; and rural development.
As far as their progress towards integration, Croatia has received the most positive signals and hopes to join the union in 2009. Albania signed SAA with the EU in June. Macedonia, also officially obtained a candidate country status last December but has not yet launched accession negotiations. Bosnia and Herzegovina joins Serbia in ranking the lowest in the list. Bosnia launched talks on signing a SAA in January. As for Serbia, the Commission suspended the negotiations in May because of the failure of the country to co-operate fully with the United Nations war crimes tribunal in Hague. Kosova's future status - whether as an independent state or an autonomous province within Serbia - will be resolved after January 2007. Until then Kosova's integration process is on hold. The countries of the Western Balkans will soon be surrounded by the EU when Black Sea neighbors Bulgaria and Romania will join the European Union on January 1, 2007.
                    [post_title] =>  EU accords Pre-Accession Aid for Southeastern European Aspiring Countries 
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                    [post_content] => Tirana, Nov. 13 - American Bank of Albania (ABA) has introduced a new innovative product to enhance the online activity of its customers. ABA provides an online service for its existing clients called ABA flex. ABAflex online banking includes options to check up and verify banking information related to bank account(s), and also effect many banking transactions directly from the Internet, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Starting this month, ABAflex individual users can take advantage of the new products called ABAdirect. It provides the advantages of an e-Deposit directly from the Internet. Thus every customer with the new ABAdirect account can manage and invest their savings more efficiently. ABAdirect is a special Time Deposit account with preferential rates, which are higher than those of regular Time Deposits. ABAdirect makes it possible for one customer to open several accounts with different maturity periods such as 1, 3 or 6 months and 1 year deposits. 
The minimum amount is 100,000 Lek or 1,000 EUR / USD per individual deposit. ABA flex customers have received several offers that make online banking more appealing. At the start of September, ABA introduced a new offer for all its ABAflex customers who would decide to use ABAflex to realize their outgoing transfers. The offer, which is valid from September 1 to December 31, provides for a 10-euro discount on any transfer, of any amount, to any other account outside of ABA. 
This offer resulted in a 30 percent increase in customers' online transactions for last two months. Expectations include a rise at the same levels in the short term. The beneficiaries of the new product will be the current, ABAflex users. A total figure of both corporate and individual users amounts at 1200. Customers continue to choose ABAflex because it allows them to carry out majority of their banking transactions directly from the Internet.
                    [post_title] =>  ABA improves services to selected customers 
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            [ID] => 100887
            [post_author] => 68
            [post_date] => 2006-11-24 01:00:00
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            [post_content] => TIRANA, Nov. 21 - The Finance Ministry made public a recent publication from the International Monetary Fund reporting on Albania. The IMF Survey of Nov. 20 prepared by N Geoffrey Oestreicher of the IMF European Department dedicated a page to the tiny Balkan country. 
Albania has made impressive progress over the past 15 years. When the country began its transition to a market economy, it had the lowest level of per capita income, trade openness, and market development in Europe. It is still among Europe's poorest countries. But, notwithstanding some setbacks since 1991, the rapid growth engendered by a concerted series of structural reforms and by a strong commitment to macroeconomic stability has more than doubled Albania's per capita income and steadily reduced the income gap with its neighbors.
A wide range of macroeconomic indicators signal progress. Public debt as a percent of GDP is declining, inflationary expectations are firmly grounded at low levels, financial intermediation is rising, confidence is steadily increasing, and in the virtual absence of capital controls, the freely floating exchange rate continues a trend appreciation. With its development strategy designed to contain the size of government and seek private sector-led solutions for all but essential core government functions, Albania's fiscal management has found an effective anchor, and the privatization process for the remaining large government assets is reaching its final phase. The government's strong policies are chiefly responsible for this success, but the IMF has also played an integral role. The Fund has lent support through most of the transition processئirst through its low-income country Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) and, more recently, in view of the rapid rise of incomes, through a blend of PRGF and Extended Fund Facility financing. Equally important, technical assistanceذarticularly in the monetary and fiscal areasبas been generous, in part reflecting the unusually high degree of implementation.

On to the next step
One measure of Albania's success to date is that the authoritiesנsupported by IMF staff and the Executive Boardخow envisage graduating from program status in early 2009 with the expiration of its current financing arrangement with the IMF. The challenge ahead will be not simply to maintain high growth but also to ensure its quality and sustainability over the longer term. With early efficiency gains from transition largely exhausted, more permanent sources of growth will be needed to ensure success and further reduce the income gap with its neighbors. Expanding the export base and improving both infrastructure and regulatory frameworks are key, and here the issue of institutional quality becomes paramount. By most available measures of corruption, law and order, and bureaucratic quality, Albania lags behind the middle-income, high-growth countries it aspires to emulate. A reflection of these issues is that both foreign investment and exports remain very low as a percentage of GDP. Albania's success after 2009 will depend to a significant degree on its ability to sustain implementation of strong policies, improve its investment climate, and reduce its still considerable vulnerabilities. Those areas that fall within the Fund's core competencies therefore constitute important pillars of the current program. For example, comprehensive reformsطith key actions supported by the conditions that the IMF attaches to its lendingءre currently being implemented to strengthen banking supervision, tax administration, and debt management. With strong technical assistance support from the IMF, significant advances have been achieved, and the country's fiscal and other institutions are expected to be markedly stronger by 2009. A substantial reform agenda will remain after graduation in 2009. Donors with appropriate expertise are expected to help Albania tackle medium-term priorities, such as infrastructure development, anticorruption measures, legal and regulatory reforms, and formalizing ownership relationships. Efforts in these areas will support and be supported by the recent approval of the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union and prospective membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
            [post_title] =>  Albania to translate impressive gains into sustained growth 
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