German Ambassador's Appeal to Albanian politicians, Schütz : Adjust the Transparency in Procurements

German Ambassador in Tirana Susanne Schütz
German Ambassador in Tirana, Susanne Schütz

 Albania has a number of sectors that may seem attractive to invest in the eyes of many investors, including the German ones, but in fact many improvement is needed by the authorities.

The German Ambassador to Albania, Susanne Schütz, in an interview to Monitor magazine, said that the investors are confident of the Vetting process, but must be taken measures in parallel with public procurement. According to her, there is a need for more transparency regarding public procurement procedures or even in the vague ownership reports in potential investment objects.

Can we have a comment on the moment in which Albania is in the economic aspect, the ambitions towards the European Union, progress and challenges?

The membership in the European Union means that each of the candidate countries takes over all the normative and legal inventory of the union - the so-called acquis communautaire. This includes the legal standards, as well as the important chapters for the economy, such as public procurement, competition law or consumer protection. Albania has in the meantime taken steps forward in these sectors - this thanks also to the German and European support. However, Albania has still great tasks to fulfil. The position of the European Union Commission on the Law on National Theater, for example, illustrates the standards that should be applied today in the public procurement sector in Albania.

Which are some of the sectors that have the most potential in your view and can attract foreign investors? What impressions do you get from German investors to Albania about the business climate in the country, what aspects needs improvement?

Albania has a great potential for development in many areas - this includes tourism, green energy, but also agriculture and the service sector. But in all these sectors it is equally important to create the right general conditions for potential investors - whether they be domestic or foreign. Part of these conditions are, above all, legal certainty, transparency and a functional, efficient and non-corrupt administration. In my communication with German investors, the Vetting process in justice, which has already started successfully, has found their appreciation.

It strengthens trust in the rule of law, contributing thus significantly to Albania's attractiveness as a place of investment. In the view of the German business community, these reforms must necessarily continue to be implemented. Because we still have ventures from Germany, potential investors for Albania, who complain about shortcomings in information policy and transparency regarding public procurement procedures or even vague ownership reports on potential investment objects. On the other hand, the deficiencies in the morality of payment of obligations in the case of public contracts do not positively affect Albania's image as a place of investment.

Albania has shifted its focus from mass tourism to the elite one, so trying to attract the rich by applying a package of hotels to this category. Do you think we are ready for this touristic profile and is this a sustainable tourism?

In the tourism sector, Albania has certainly a great potential. But it is also clear that it is in a global market with strong competition. Albania's attractiveness as a tourist destination can be enhanced if the infrastructure is fully upgraded - and here we can mention roads and highways, waste management, illegal construction, sewerage - and quality of services. Germany supports Albania in this context with numerous projects - such as developing concepts for sustainable tourism in mountainous areas.

Germany has helped the government with water sector reform. How do you see the progress so far and what should be done to make it successful?

The reform in the water sector with its three pillars - Improving the institutional and regulatory framework / increasing investment in infrastructure / expanding expertise and managerial capacities - aims at modernising the Albanian water management sector and harmonising it with EU standards . Through the fight against informality in early 2018, the government managed to achieve impressive successes, as is the increase in the number of officially registered connections with the water network, the payment of overdue bills and the increase of revenues of water enterprises.

But a deep structural reform like this requires a lot of patience. In my assessment of a sustainable success, it would be particularly important to clarify the roles and competences of the responsible institutions, as well as the sufficient qualification of their employees for the tasks they have to fulfill. In addition, the investments must be carried out according to objective criteria in accordance with the master plan and be linked with reform stages; so we should take care of having tariffs that cover costs and are affordable by all Albanians.

A few days ago, a new agreement was signed for the financing of farmers in rural areas. How successful has this instrument been so far and what impact is expected to have in these areas according to you?

The Rural Credit Guarantee Fund (RCGF) was created in 2015 with the aim of facilitating access to financial resources for Albanian farmers and rural entrepreneurs in rural areas. Untillnow this fund has made available more than 1200 loans, with a total value of 5.4 million euros, with 10% of the beneficiaries being women. Given this success, the Federal Government has decided to increase RCGF's capital with a 5m-euro grant. An innovative aspect of the RCGF is the establishment of a Green Window for guaranteeing investment loans in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energies. It is expected that by 2021, the Fund will have covered more than 1,700 (total) guarantees in a total value of more than 16.5 million euros.
German Ambassador's Appeal to Albanian politicians, Schütz : Adjust the Transparency in Procurements German Ambassador's Appeal to Albanian politicians, Schütz : Adjust the Transparency in Procurements Sunday, October 07, 2018 Rating: 5
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