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FIAA Industrial Talks IV – Meeting with the Telecommunication and Information Technology Members

October 23, 2020
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In the ambit of industrial talks with members, FIAA held another interesting meeting with representatives from the telecommunication and Information Technology industries.

The meeting was very fruitful as it brought more insights from the invited participants, sharing their experiences during the Pandemic, difficulties, challenges, as well as learned on the industry concerns and their perspectives on the current doing business in the country.

Despite the pandemic difficulties, which have affected all businesses, telecommunication and Information Technology industries have been performing good. They have found new operational ways to keep their business ongoing, serve their customers properly and most importantly to maintain their staff at work and perform efficiently even from the “new Home Offices trend”, which they have shifted to.

This Member’s Category, were also informed by the FIAA Chairman on the current initiatives of FIAA and were encouraged to share their concerns and recommendations on presenting the Official Opinion of FIAA properly.

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Skavica HPP, a 100% state-funded project, to boost renewable energy generation capacity

October 15, 2020
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During the recent visit of Keith Krach, Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, the United States and Albania signed a historic memorandum of economic cooperation between the two countries. This memorandum is considered a significant achievement in elevating the economic relations between Albania and USA. The US firm – Bechtel signed an agreement for the construction of the Skavica hydropower plant, which seems to be the largest contract ever awarded to a sole U.S. firm, is a very good start.

The PM of Albania stated that the Skavica hydropower plant, a 100% Albanian government-funded project, enters the path to finalization. The procedures for this strategic project for energy independence designed to turn Albania into a key factor in the region’s energy sector.

For more information please visit: https://www.kryeministria.al/en/newsroom/me-skavicen-100-kapital-shteteror-rrisim-kapacitetin-e-prodhimit-te-energjise-se-paster/

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FIAA Industrial Talks III – Meeting with the Oil Industry Member

October 10, 2020
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FIAA’s Chairman and Executive Director meet the new Chairman of Shell Industries in Albania

Chairman and Executive Director of FIAA have welcomed to a business network Mr. Ante Frens, successor of Mr. Rohan D’Souza, Chairman of the Shell Industries in Albania and FIAA Board Member. Shell Companies in Albania have joined FIAA from the very beginning and represent good business practices and ethics in our country. Shell Companies have served continuously in the FIAA Board and supported with their experience and know-how.  The new Chairman was introduced with other FIAA members and was briefed on the mission and work of FIAA in Albania.

 

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FIAA Industrial Talks II – Meeting with Board Members

October 10, 2020
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In the ambit of FIAA industrial talks, the Board Members have meet to share concerns and perspectives on the current doing business in the country. Representing different industries in the country, the Board have shared their experiences and perceptions coming from banking, consultancy, real estate development, oil industry, infrastructure and telecommunication.

In view of the fact that Albania is now preparing for the Electoral Run of the political Parties, the Board of FIAA considers as very important the communication with the members, the Government, Opposition and other Players in the political Arena, stressing stronger than ever, improvement of the Business climate in the country.

As such, prior to the upcoming election campaigns, FIAA will soon publish an official manifest consisting on the Top concerns from Business and address it to the parties and interested stakeholders.

Four years ago, FIAA addressed their business concerns through the White Book 2017-2021, an official Document given to the New Government of that time, which would serve as a Work Guide, by using a new format of dialogue between Albanian Authorities and the Foreign Business Community and not only. The goal here was the creation of Ad-Hoc Working Groups with Experts from both Public Administration and Business Representatives, in order to define concrete measures and implement recommendations coming from the White Book. This initiative came out during the discussions on the purpose of the White Book with the Representatives of FIAA. A good part of the FIAA White Book has been accomplished, but still remains a lot to do.

The New Edition of the White Book will be soon under preparation and will include all business concerns and their technical aspects, along with relevant recommendations coming from our members directly.

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FIAA Industrial Talks – Meeting with the Energy Sector Companies

October 6, 2020
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FIAA considers as highly important to further develop communication and discuss among each other on the issues members from respective industries are facingIn this ambit, member businesses of the energy sector, have meet with FIAA’s Chairman, Dr. Constantin Von Alvensleben sharing their concerns and perspectives on the current doing business in the country.

For every business, 2020 has been a tough year but, in particular for those businesses heavily affected by the Pandemic. With a good will and hope to getting back to normality, FIAA is undertaking a series of meetings/industrial talks with its members in order to catch up with the relevant concerns and developments, as well as to create some networking opportunities as a very useful tool for the businesses.

The present members highlighted as very important and most concerning, the need for consistent communication with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy, which has often lacked feedback and consultation as a direct interest group for draft laws or directives affecting their businesses. Other issues brought in the table were related to the tax authorities and Ministry of Finance, Local Authorities fees etc.

In the recent months, FIAA has addressed several communications and letters to the Ministry of Energy and will keep pushing to restore communication and follow any request from Members to further support them.

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EBRD LAUNCHES ASSESSMENT TOOL TO HELP MITIGATE CORONAVIRUS IMPACT

October 4, 2020
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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is conducting an assessment on business restructuring tools in all 38 economies where the EBRD is active. The assessment aims to provide detailed guidance on legislative gaps to address an expected increase in businesses needing to use formal restructuring procedures following the coronavirus pandemic. It also aims to provide an overview of the options within pre-insolvency and insolvency frameworks across these economies.

For more information read here: https://www.investment.com.al/ebrd-launches-assessment-tool-to-help-mitigate-coronavirus-impact/

 

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MARLOTEX shpk donates masks to Institutions and Citizens in Albania

October 2, 2020
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Marlotex shpk is a manufacturing company operating in Berat with more than 15 years in Albania, led by Mr. Gasmen Toska and Mrs. Teuta Qose. Under the circumstances created by Covid-19 Pandemic, this company from the beginning of the lockdown has been adapted to the new reality by shifting its production to Masks and Gloves. Due to lack of local production for basic products such as textile masks, there was a high  demand also from outside Albania, which made Marlotex shift their  production to handle the high demand to providing these products, channelizing production to 8 companies in Albania and giving work to about 200 employees who have worked in mask ‘production units.

As part of their company’s social responsibility Program, they have been also continuously offering protective masks to their staff and their respective families.

Up to now, 75,000 qualitative and reusable masks have been donated for free, and they continue donating to: the Municipality of Berat, the Police Forces in Berat, Prison, Pensioners and people in need in the city, as well as to the Municipalities of Korca, Elbasan and Tirana, and to Mother Theresa Hospital Center and Air Forces in the “Mother Theresa Airport” in Rinas.

The company aims to donate up to 100, 000 masks before the end of 2020.

The marketing strategy of Marlotex bases on diversifying products’ range. They operate in 5 different markets with 5 different goods, which are not related to each other. In principle this policy gives the company more resilience in times of crisis and more chances of resistance.

FIAA is very proud that its Member, Marlotex in Albania contributes to making a difference in these difficult times and becomes a model of generosity and acts with social responsibility.

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Official announcement by Vodafone Albania

July 16, 2020
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Official announcement by Vodafone Albania

Vodafone notes the press speculations that are circulating in the Albanian market regarding a potential exit of the company from the market.

Vodafone strongly denies these speculations.

Vodafone is the largest and most consistent foreign investor in the country. Vodafone recently acquired the largest Albanian Broadband company ABCOM, and is currently underway in executing a very significant 500 million Euro infrastructure investment plan which will materially change the quality of fixed and TV services to the benefit of all Albanians.

Vodafone emphasizes the commitment to the Albanian market as part of its core European Operations.

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Njoftim zyrtar nga Vodafone Albania

Vodafone u njoftua sot mbi disa spekulime që po qarkullojnë në tregun Shqiptar, mbi mundësinë e tërheqjes së kompanisë Vodafone nga Shqipëria.

Vodafone mohon kategorikisht këtë lajm.

Vodafone është një prej Investitorëve të huaj më të mëdhenj dhe të qëndrueshëm në vend. Se fundmi, kompania ka zgjeruar aktivitietin e saj me blerjen e operatorit fiks Abcom, dhe aktualisht po nis një plan Investimi në infrastrukturën e rrjetit me vlerë 500 milion Euro, investim ky që do ndryshojë rrënjësisht cilësinë e shërbimeve fikse dhe TV për klientët Shqiptar.

Vodafone konfirmon angazhimin e saj në tregun shqiptar si një prej tregjeve kyçe të Vodafone në Europë.

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MARLOTEX shpk donates masks to Institutions and Citizens in Albania

July 13, 2020
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Marlotex shpk is a manufacturing company operating in Berat with more than 15 years in Albania, led by Mr. Gasmen Toska and Mrs. Teuta Qose. Under the new circumstances created by Covid-19 Pandemic, this company from the beginning of the lockdown has been adapted to the new reality by shifting its production to Masks and Gloves. Due to lack of local production for basic products such as textile masks, there was a high  demand also from outside Albania, which made Marlotex shift their  production to handle the high demand to providing these products, channelizing production to 8 companies in Albania and giving work to about 200 employees who have worked in mask ‘production units.

As part of their company’s social responsibility Program, they have been also continuously offering protective masks to their staff and their respective families.

Furthermore, over 50,000 qualitative and reusable masks have been donated for free so far and they continue donating to: the Municipality of Berat, the Police Forces in Berat, Prison, Pensioners and people in need in the city, as well as to the Municipalities of Korca, Elbasan and Tirana, and to Mother Theresa Hospital Center and Air Forces in the “Mother Theresa Airport”in Rinas.

The marketing strategy of Marlotex bases on diversifying products’ range. They operate in 5 different markets with 5 different goods, which are not related to each other. In principle this policy gives the company more resilience in times of crisis and more chances of resistance.

FIAA is very proud that its Member, Marlotex in Albania contributes to making a difference in these difficult times and becomes a model of generosity and acts with social responsibility.

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Perspectives of FIAA Board Members during the Pandemic lockdown in Albania

June 3, 2020
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Current approach of Business under Covid-19, short and long-term perspective

 

Dr. Constantin von ALVENSLEBEN

President of FIAA/ CEO OF Tirana International Airport (TIA)

Starting around 12th of March, GoA stopped the regular passenger flight activity. First all flights from and to Italy were banned, then consecutively all other passenger flights except for the connection between Tirana and Istanbul. End of March, this service also stopped. Since then, TIA continues to service several cargo flights per day as well as humanitarian and repatriation flights. There are one or two repatriation flights daily, connecting TIA with European capitals. The provider is mostly Air Albania but sometimes also Albawings. A flight from an Albanian national to the EU requires confirmation from the respective Embassy of the destination country, and the destination country may require the passenger to undergo quarantine after arriving in the destination country.

While TIA had up to 64 turnarounds per day in the most busy periods, the airport is now reduced to two or three. Revenues since the second half of March are heavily impacted as a consequence, while the airport continues to bear high fixed costs. No dismissals have been made yet, but a short work scheme was introduced which guarantees to employees at least 50% of their salaries. Management has agreed to a salary reduction, and a Voluntary Donation Scheme was set up ensuring additional support to the employees with the lowest salaries.

Even in the absence of normal revenues since mid of March, TIA continues its capital expenditure program focusing on work on the airfield renewing and upgrading the taxiway infrastructure. Further investment in refurbishing the runway will depend on air traffic and revenues coming back in the second half of the year.

In the meantime, TIA is also preparing for the restart of air traffic under the still existing COVID-19 situation. Special measures will have to be adopted, such as the keeping of distance while queuing, plexiglass shields in front of counters, the taking of temperature etc. The full range of measures affecting airport and airline operators has not been finally agreed by GoA and the governments of the EU. In addition, the date of the restart of air traffic depends on political decisions of GoA and the EU countries.

TIA looks forward to see you all back at the airport as passengers as soon as possible!

 

Mr. Xingyun Sun talks over the business situation under COVID-19 pandemic

CEO of Bankers Petroleum Albania & Board Member of FIAA

 “We are hopeful that we will come stronger from this difficult period as we see that even the government is showing support for big investors, such as Bankers”!

The outbreak of Covid-19 virus which has been declared a pandemic by the `World Health Organization is an immense global crisis which has affected us all. The rapid spread of this virus has led to a deteriorating economic outlook, low oil prices and upheaval in financial markets worldwide.

The price of oil sunk to levels not seen since 2002 as demand for crude collapses amid the coronavirus pandemic. Brent crude fell up to $20 a barrel, the lowest level since November 2002. Oil prices fell by more than half during the past months as companies cut back or close production.

On the other side refineries decided to reduce production. The decision came as refineries around the world are processing less crude oil. As countries bring in tougher measures to fight the coronavirus outbreak, demand for transport has been hammered by grounded airlines and fewer cars on the roads. Therefore, the request for crude oil has declined affecting negatively Bankers, which depends on the market demand and the oil price as well.

During March, Bankers was informed by our main crude buyer of a Force Majeure event due to the enforcement by the Government of Spain of a state of Emergency throughout the country. These events put Bankers in a very difficult situation, in selling the product and more important storage it.

Bankers Petroleum Albania during all the months of April, March and ongoing is trying its best to mitigate the impact Covid-19 and maintain the production activities as at maximum as possible. We received additional storage at our export terminal in Vlore (PIA) and made use of all available inventories in the Patos-Marinza oilfield. But, even with these mitigation efforts, we were forced to first reduce production and then shut-in the oilfield.

Even in this situation we kept every employee at work and assured them that we will keep strong together even in this difficult period.

As the oil prices are improving (currently Brent price is around 31 USD/bbl), we are slowly getting the oilfield back to work. All this period, we have tried to find new buyers, which will allow us to reduce storages and restart production. We have begun to sell small quantities and we are working to add the sales and the production in the next weeks.

Our team of engineers, which I must say is very competent, is working hard to get back to work the oilfield at minimum costs. These months have been really difficult and it’s really painful to see such big and important oilfield to “get to sleep”… But, I can say that it has worked as a period of studying in deep this important asset, the way and technologies to exploit it better as in common working days it’s difficult to find time to analyze every detail.

As for the long-term perspective, I can say that if the oil prices will improve, this will allow the company to increase its production and the revenues, pay more taxes to the government of Albania.

We are hopeful that we will come stronger from this difficult period, as we see that even the government is showing support for big investors, such as Bankers, which represents over 90% of the overall oil production in Albania, paid over 54 Million USD in taxes only last year, and employees around 2000 people (530 direct/1470 indirect).

 

Mr. Elvin GURI

Investor at Telekom Albania & Board Member of FIAA

Our focus at Telekom Albania during the lock-down, has been servicing as best as we can our customers. As our stores were physically closed for a substantial amount of time, we focused on alternative channels of maintaining communication with our customers through internet, social media, telesales etc. This was a good time for us to show real commitment to our customers even in these unusual times.

While the whole industry extended more favorable terms and bigger data packages to the customers during the lockdown, we also had to take a closer look at ourselves. This crisis forced us to consider the fundamentals of both our current structure and the way we operate. Physical offices were transformed and adapted to new operating reality to meet our customers ‘demand more efficiently.

I believe that living in these challenging times, Organizations shall become more flexible in order to better face similar challenges in the future. Faster acceptance of digitalization, including virtual offices, internet and social media-based customer service etc, would differentiate the industry competitors. More investment in infrastructure network, software etc, combined with better service and better products, should serve to increase customer loyalty. Finally, size and focus shall be key to survival and success in business.

 

Mrs. Stela DHAMI, MBA, LEED® GA

Managing Partner of Colliers International

As all of FIAA’s member firms, Colliers was also impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our ways of working have primarily changed, but the level of commitment to our clients increased as to respond best to their real estate commercial and advisory needs especially during difficult times.

The main impact in the real estate sector was the closure of all retail/shopping centers, which put a lot of financial burden and pressure to owners and tenants. Most tenants tried implementing force majeure clauses in their rental agreements. Few landlords responded positively, which put most of the pressure of the crisis directly on the tenants. Those tenants that implemented new multi-channel approaches to their customers by enabling online retail sales were able to gain some business, otherwise they were directly negatively impacted.

In the office sector, companies were less fortunate in receiving rental deductions as most office buildings were open for business albeit the increased safety and hygiene measures. However, even here international and local tenants tried receiving rental deductions which were offered on an one off basis. Those landlords who offered such deductions strengthened the relationships they had with their tenants.

In the hospitality sector, I am happy to observe that the international hotel brands remain interested in expanding their presence to Albania, but remain skeptical of the delay in infrastructure investments in the country. As soon as the country can facilitate better air and road traffic links to the South of Albania the higher the chances of attracting international hotel chains to this part of the Albanian Riviera.

 

Mr. Përparim KALO

Managing Partner at KALO & ASSOCIATES & Board Member of FIAA

KALO & ASSOCIATES continued its activity based on the new regulations of doing business under the COVID 19 circumstances issued by the Government of Albania.
We organized the work from home for 90 per cent of the staff, whereas 10 per cent of the staff practiced from the offices, following the rules such as distance, hygiene, and timing.
Although, the activity was reduced and at least 5 mega projects, we were working on were suspended, we decided to keep the office intact from human resources and payment obligations.
Now, we believe that the way the work was organized during the last 2 months will very likely continue for inertia, so it is important to strengthen the IT solutions and also literacy of people in the firm.

We believe the situation will be normalized when communication between continents and especially between the EU countries and EU with Western Balkans are relaxed.

 

Mr. Rohan D’Souza

Chairman of Shell Industries Albania & Board Member of FIAA

“Shell in Albania adjusted rapidly to the lockdown, because of the spread of Coronavirus. Overnight, our entire workforce began working from home. Like other businesses at the beginning we had to work through a range of challenges (like IT infrastructure & people’s physical working conditions). But our thoughts and prayers remain with the people who are both physically and economically affected by this pandemic and we will play our part in bringing Albania back to normal.”

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