Faced with corruption and unpredictable tax system, top business associations demand comprehensive reforms

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times April 12, 2023 00:50

Faced with corruption and unpredictable tax system, top business associations demand comprehensive reforms

Story Highlights

  • Five chambers of commerce urged the Albanian parliament, government, and other public agencies to engage in comprehensive economic and investment reforms to make the country competitive in the region and beyond.

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TIRANA, April 12, 2023 - Doing business in Albania is hard as the economic “environment is inefficient and requires significant improvement,” five chambers of commerce in Albania, including those representing American, German, French and Italian investors said in a joint statement issued on Tuesday.  

To attract more foreign investment, they called for a development strategy to encourage investment in Albania that will stimulate employment, combat corruption, increase transparency in public procurement and engage with interest groups. 

Their requests include anti-corruption measures to comply with OECD standards and promote transparency; a public procurement system based on Open Contracting Data Standards with no special exceptions and with increased access to procurement inquiries and data; a  public consultation with enforcement mechanisms that ensure transparency and buy-in from citizens and interest groups.

The chambers also note that Albania's tax system should be modernized to reflect international accounting standards, reduce unpredictability, and discourage the informal economy. Finally, they want the government to establish a National Economic Council to promote economic development and cooperation between the public and private sectors.

The statement emphasized that these measures would increase the confidence of the business community, especially foreign investors. 

- Statement is “alarm bell,” experts say -

Independent experts like Ornela Liperi, the director of the economic magazine Monitor, see this joint statement as an alarm bell over the real problems of the economy. She noted that the fact that so many chambers of commerce have come together to issue the statement is an indication that the situation is very concerning.

However, Ms. Liperi highlights a deep contrast between how foreign investors view the economy, as an unstable economy, and how the government views it, based on some economic growth figures from "unsustainable growth" in construction.

Ms. Liperi suggests that as long as the country fails to reform the structural economy, and corruption is not punished, the situation will remain the same. 

Meanwhile, the head of the Center for Economic Research, Zef Preçi, says that the business climate has deteriorated significantly over the last decade, especially concerning corruption, institutions, laws, market regulation and competition.

Corruption remains the biggest challenge for entrepreneurs, and it prevents the country from attracting foreign investors,  Mr. Preçi says.

- Key stakeholders involved  -

The joint statement represents the voices of significant stakeholders in the Albanian business community, and their concerns reflect the reality of the business climate because their members provide detailed input.

Albania has the potential to become an attractive destination for foreign investors, with its strategic location, a skilled workforce and natural resources.  However, the country's bureaucracy and corruption hinder its growth and development, making it unattractive to foreign investors. As a result, Albania lags behind its neighbors in terms of economic growth, and the government's attempts to boost the economy have not been effective in creating stable growth, according to economic reports over the year. 

The Albanian government must take the concerns of the chambers of commerce seriously and work toward implementing the recommended reforms, experts say.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times April 12, 2023 00:50