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FIAA presents the outcomes of the Business Environment Survey in Albania 2018-2019

June 8, 2019
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Unfavorable Business Climate, Monopoly and Corruption continue to remain the most concerning issues. 

During a mid-year event in June, FIAA presented the outcomes of its Business Environment Survey 2019. The Survey was conducted among the Membership of FIAA which are the most important foreign businesses in the country, operating in various industries such as, energy, oil, mining, banking, telecommunications, manufacturing, etc, that represent the biggest part of the FDI-s in Albania.

Business estimation on the business climate during the first six months of the year was stated as unfavorable. When asked to rate the climate from 0 to 100, where zero is unfavorable and 100 very favorable, the outcome from businesses was 39. Expectations seems to be a little more positive for the second half of the year with the index rising to 45, but still falling below 50.

The Survey outcome collects as the most concerning, obstacles like monopoly & unfair competition, corruption, Government bureaucracy and informal economy. However, positive feedback was also stated by respondents in the relations with improvements in the banking system policies, access to finance, labor rules, intellectual property rights, and energy supply. Also, the relations with the customs and the central government were rated with positive notes.

During the Results presentation, The Minister of Finance and Economy, Mrs. Anila Denaj, present in the Event, said that the government is open to ongoing dialogue with entrepreneurs. She added that bureaucracies have fallen sharply, as confirmed in the World Bank’s Doing Business report.

Minister Denaj said it is true that 2-3 foreign companies have left Albania, but according to the 5-month data from the National Business Center, 89 new businesses with foreign shareholders have been opened.

Further, the Minister presented the Fiscal project, which the Ministry of Finance has launched this year, with the goal that in the year 2020, all payments can be performed electronically. This will contribute to a very sensitive reduction of informality. She announced to the businesses the results of the reforms undertaken by the government, such as those dealing with deregulation reform, with licenses, that today are given online 99%. During her word Minister Denaj invited the members of FIAA to visit the Vocational Schools and Labor Offices in every location they operate, in order to better mediate the needs of parties, job seekers and employers.

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FIAA Representatives met with an UNDP Mission

May 27, 2019
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FIAA representatives were invited for a business breakfast with UNDP Albania, an activity set up with the most important actors of the private sector in Albania. The UNDP was represented by the Country Resident Head and the representatives from Regional Centre in Istanbul who introduced their recent programs and focus on the private sector engagement and development of partnerships. On the other side, FIAA representatives introduced their initiatives on support of the Economy and Communities they work with. They also emphasized the importance that business has given to Social Responsibility during the recent years and the vision they have to further play a role on the development of the social and economic growth of the country.

During the Meeting were introduced and discussed the Sustainable Development Goals achievement which for, UNDP sees the private sector playing a vital role as an engine of economic growth and creation of jobs.

In this ambit, FIAA was invited to cooperate with UNDP on different projects where, private sector as an important partner for UNDP could play a critical role towards sustainable development and alleviating poverty in its all forms and accelerating structural transformations.

FIAA Representatives expressed their appreciation on this invitation and showed the openness to cooperate with UNDP on these important programs for Albania.

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Investment Council discusses on the Investments and Legal Security on Property

May 20, 2019
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During its May Meeting, Albania Investment Council (IC) discussed on “ Investments and Legal Security on Property”, a meeting chaired by the Minister of Finance and Economy, Mrs. Anila Denaj but with presence of the Key Relevant Stakeholder, Mr. Artan Lame as Head of the Newly created State Agency of Cadastre. In support of this meeting, the Investment Council hold a series of Consultation Meetings with Business Organizations, with FIAA as was one of the Contributors with presented Concerns and Recommendations on the property issues.

In this meeting, FIAA was represented by its official appointed Member in the Council, FIAA’s Chairman Mr. Tom Larsen.

 

For more information please visit: https://www.investment.com.al/investment-council-meeting-on-investments-and-legal-security-on-property/

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Investment Council discusses Property Issues with FIAA Members

April 17, 2019
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The Property Issues were at the focus of a discussion Meeting during a round table with several Members of FIAA and Investment Council Secretariat. The discussions intended to address property-related issues from the investors’ point of view and the respective legal certainty that the investors should have in Albania. Most of the identified concerns were related to:

  • High Opportunity of Social Conflicts and Overlapping of Ownership Titles;
  • Failure to develop a structured agricultural market and the lack of an insurance scheme;
  • No access to Financing (Grants / Credits) by the owners;
  • Very Low Property tax related to income;
  • Reduced opportunity for land consolidation and agro-business development;
  • High unemployment at the regional and national level due to lack of investment;
  • Very low level of Foreign Direct Investments in the property/land sector.

Among the main recommendations given for bringing up a safe system, for Owners, Investors, Local Government Units, Central Government and the State Cadastral Agency were:

  1. Update and Improvement process of the properties based on a prioritization of zones,   areas for Tourism, Energy sector, Agriculture/rural investments.
  2. Registration of all Rural Ownership Acts, legalization of the factual situation (without involving the Owners , but with the institutional coordination itself)
  3. Registering of all public properties, based on the relevant Decision of Council Ministers, on behalf of Municipalities and LGUs.
  4. Providing accurate data of the properties,  part of investments  as per  Sectorial Strategy of Tourism, Energy and Agriculture,  before entering in Procurement procedures.

Other discussions will follow in the upcoming months with involvement of different stakeholders for a better approach with relevant Institutions.

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ROUNDTABLE ON VAT REIMBURSEMENT STRATEGY AND INFORMALITY IN 2019

April 11, 2019
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Ministry of Finance and Economy in cooperation with the Secretariat of Albania Investment Council held an open discussion with businesses from the sectors of agri-processing,  active inward processing regime (fason regimeand export with regard to the 2019 VAT Reimbursement Strategy and the Fight against Informality. The meeting was chaired by the Minister of Finance Mrs. Denaj and attended by the General Tax Director, Mr Enton Duro.

Key messages delivered by Minister Denaj, were focused in 3 main pillars:

  • MFE has developed a plan for the payments of VAT reimbursement on a quarterly basis for the above categories as per First-In, First-Out (FIFO) principle;
  • Informality is a factor which has conditioned time after time the state budget and therefore it is requested a bigger awareness of the business community not only to address this issue but also to initiate the dialogue as relates to suitable economic models which guarantee economic growth and non-repetition of such cycles;
  • MFE together with GTD will focus its efforts on the awareness of the business as relates to informality in the country, and together they have planned the reforming of the tax administration and in particular tax investigation.

For more information please visit: www.investment.com.al

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FIAA is part of the Multi Stakeholders Group at EITI Secretariat Albania

March 26, 2019
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The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative – EITI, is an international initiative with main object to develop and implement a mechanism for declaring revenues earned from the use of Natural Resources through Extractive Industries, publishing of these data in an understandable format by everyone and their oversight by providing to the general public information on public revenue and expenditure, thus, contributing to a public debate and the establishment of mechanisms for the good governance of these revenues to the benefit of communities. The EITI process can be further tailored and adapted according to the current context of each implementing country, in order to meet the information needs of stakeholders, as well as the needs to tackle the sector with important reforms, based on this data. As it is set out in the EITI Standards Requirements, the EITI Standard Implementation requires effective oversight of the EITI process by all stakeholders. This is accomplished through the establishment and functioning of a Multi Stakeholders Group, which includes government representatives, companies operating in this sector, and full, independent, active and effective participation of civil society, who are committed to work together in order to develop and promote the transparency and good governance of this sector.

The EITI Multi Stakeholders Group (MSG) was established by the Prime Minister’s Order no.71, dated 21.07.2011, to follow-up Albania’s membership procedures as an implementing country of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and the ongoing fulfillment of the obligations deriving from this initiative.

The Multi Stakeholders Group for EITI Albania is the decision-making body, in charge of supervising the implementation of EITI in Albania. This group is headed by the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Energy and Industry and consists of government representatives, companies operating in extractive industries and civil society. The Multi Stakeholders Group approves the work plan for the secretariat, submits the annual EITI report, ensures that EITI contributes to public debate and supports the work of the Albanian Secretariat EITI.

For more information: http://www.albeiti.org/legjislacioni/

The Multi Stakeholders Group EITI (MSG) operates based on its Internal Regulation “REGULATION ON ORGANIZATION AND FUNCTIONING OF THE MULTI STAKEHOLDERS GROUP (MSG) IN FRAME OF THE MEMBERSHIP IN THE EITI-INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION”

– Approved with the Minister’s Order, no.454 Prot, dated 30.12.2016 “Order for the adoption of the Regulation of the Multi Stakeholder Group (MSG) in frame of the membership in the EITI International Organization”

For more information: http://www.albeiti.org/grupi-i-punes/rregullorja/

 Members of the Multi Stakeholders Group The Multi Stakeholder Group, chaired by the Deputy Minister of Energy and Industry consists of 16 representatives, 6 representatives from the government, 5 representatives from civil society and 5 representatives from the companies operating in the extractive industry. Representatives from other institutions may also participate in the multi stakeholder group meetings upon the invitation of the chairman.

Method for selection of Representatives of Extractive Industries to the EITI MSG and current representatives  Representatives of Extractive Industry Operators, Members of MSG EITI Albania shall be selected, mandated and replaced in accordance with the procedures described in Articles 10 and 11 of the Internal Regulation. In order to maintain diversified opinion and broad representation, each interest group has the right to designate its representatives in MSG for EITI in Albania. The nomination process is independent within each subgroup.

Participation in the MSG for Civil Society representatives and business representatives, in order to enable broad-based representation, is made upon open public invitation by the Chairman of this Working Group and is administered independently and transparently by each group. Each group must make transparent the procedure for selecting MSG members and must provide documents to the Chairman of the MSG, for the process and selection procedure, as well as validity of each member’s mandate;

– The EITI Secretariat Albania will provide technical support throughout the selection process, if this is required by each of the groups, in order to fulfill the transparency of each process.

For more information: http://www.albeiti.org/grupi-i-punes/rregullorja/

On 16.11.2016, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between FIAA and National Secretariat of EITI Albania, by No. 118 Prot, which stipulates that FIAA will be the only formal Institution that Represents Businesses in Extracting Industries and that it will undertake the selection process of MSG members from business representatives, ensuring a transparent and independent representation. Despite the limited number of seats for FIAA in the MSG, the selecting process among the members of FIAA within this industry is made based on the following criteria:

  • One Representative per Industry
  • ProActive Representatives in various discussions and initiatives
  • Professionally committed Representatives in discussions

For more information: http://www.albeiti.org/procesi-i-rekrutimit-te-industrise/

In frame of the Corrective Actions left by the First Validation Process, where it was required the representation as a Member in the MSG for ALBPETROL sh.a., and pursuant the resignation given for work purposes by the Statkraft representative, on 11.01.2019, the Chairman of MSG Mr. Enis Aliko by letter no.17 Prot, dated 22.01.2019, requested the replacement of the Statkraft Member with the representative of Albpetrol sh.a..

For more information: http://www.albeiti.org/procesi-i-rekrutimit-te-industrise/

Over the years, FIAA’s Representatives in the MSG have been the largest investors in the country, such as:

  1. Bankers Petroleum;
  2. Devoll Hydropower Sh.a./STATKRAFT;
  3. Beralb Sh.a.
  4. Albchrome;
  5. Stream Oil;

Currently, the representatives of Extractive Industry Operators in the MSG are as follows:

  1. Mr. Përparim Alikaj, Tirex (FIAA)
  2. Mr. Dritan Dervishaj, Antea Cement (FIAA)
  3. Mr. Rohan D`Souza, Shell Upstream (FIAA)
  4. Mr. Pandeli Bombaj, Selenica Bitumi (FIAA)
  5. Mr. Safet Ebeja, Albpetrol Sh.a.

For more information: http://www.albeiti.org/grupi-i-punes/

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FIAA Mining and Oil and Gas members meet with EITI International Validation Team

March 21, 2019
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The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative – EITI, is an international initiative with main object to develop and implement a mechanism for declaring revenues earned from the use of Natural Resources through Extractive Industries, publishing of these data in an readable format by everyone and their oversight by providing to the general public information on public revenue and expenditure, thus, contributing to a public debate and the establishment of mechanisms for the good governance of these revenues to the benefit of communities.  This is accomplished through the establishment and functioning of a Multi Stakeholders Group (MSG), which includes government representatives, companies operating in this sector, and full, independent, active and effective participation of civil society, who are committed to work together in order to develop and promote the transparency and good governance of this sector. The MSG for EITI Albania is the decision-making body in charge of supervising the implementation of EITI in Albania. This group is headed by the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Energy and Industry and consists of government representatives, companies operating in extractive industries and civil society. The Multi Stakeholders Group approves the work plan for the secretariat, submits the annual EITI report, ensures that EITI contributes to public debate and supports the work of the Albanian Secretariat EITI. On 16.11.2016, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between FIAA and National Secretariat of EITI Albania, by No. 118 Prot, which stipulates that FIAA will be the only formal Institution which represents Businesses in Extracting Industries and that it will undertake the selection process of MSG members from business community, ensuring a transparent and independent representation.

In this ambit, the second mission of the Validation Team from the International EITI Secretariat in Oslo, visited Albania in March 19th and met with FIAA representatives in the Multi-stakeholder Group of EITI Albania. The Validation Team aimed at verifying and evaluating the steps followed by EITI Albania in the function of the Corrective Actions left out of the First Validation conducted during 2017 and the EITI Board Decision of 13.02.2018 “On Validation of Albania”.

During the meeting with FIAA, it was highlighted the current situation of the extractive Industries in Albania and the performance of the MSG and EITI Secretariat in the Country. The FIAA Representatives addressed the main challenges in this industry and envisaged the ongoing work and efforts for assuring a more transparent and accountable industry in Albania. The team also met with the institutions and involved stakeholders in the implementation of the EITI Initiative in Albania.

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FIAA Annual Meeting 2019

March 21, 2019
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Foreign Investor Association in Albania hold the Annual Assembly Meeting during the evening of March 20th at Mak Albania Hotel. During the Meeting, the Chairman of FIAA Mr. Larsen addressed some words by highlighting the main achievements and challenges FIAA had during the 2018. He also congratulated the Board Members of FIAA for supporting the FIAA mission and their commitment in particular the Members whose mandate came to the end. The Meeting continued with a Presentation of the activities and actions of FIAA during the year along with the respective financing reports. The second part of the  Assembly works was the introduction of the Candidates running for Board Member and their election. The candidates were representing main foreign companies in the country like SHELL, Bankers Petroleum, Colliers International and Kalo & Associates.

The renewed Board Structure consists as follows:

Mr. Tom Kristian LARSEN, President of FIAA and Country Head Albania of Stakraft/Devoll HPP (elected in 2018)

Mr. Patrick PASCAL, Board Member of FIAA and General Manager of Selenice Bitumi sh.a (elected in 2018)

Mr. Mario BRACCI, Board Member of FIAA and CEO of ANTEA Cement (elected in 2018)

Mrs. Stela DHAMI, Board Member of FIAA and Managing Partner of Colliers International (newly elected)

Mr. Rohan D’SOUZA, Board Member of FIAA and Chairman of SHELL Industries Albania (newly elected)

Mr. Xingyun SUN, Board Member of FIAA and President and CEO of Bankers Petroleum Albania (newly elected)

Mr. Perparim KALO, Board Member of FIAA and Managing Partner of Kalo & Associates (newly elected)

FIAA is the most reputable institution representing the foreign business community in Albania, with 19 years of experience, it continues to be an important partner in the development and economic integration of the country. The Association has consolidated a sustainable co-operation with local and international authorities in the country, positioning itself part of the various consulting structures focusing on the business climate in the country and absorbing new investments.

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FIAA Board of Directors meets with the Minister of State for the Protection of Entrepreneurship in the premises of FIAA

March 6, 2019
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On March 5th the Board of Directors of FIAA had their regular Meeting during which they meet with the New Minister of State for Protection of Entrepreneurship in Albania, Mr. Eduard Shalsi.

The Board welcomed Mr. Shalsi in the premises of FIAA and addressed to him different obstacles that the Foreign Investors are facing in Albania. They highlighted the value of the White Book Document FIAA has prepared, which, can be a good starting point for the Minister to follow his agenda as an Advocate of the Business and Business Climate. For the FIAA Board, creation of Technical Working groups for each industry would be an efficient tool to better work on the addressed business concerns. The Minister assured the Board for his commitment on following up the proposed concerns by screening them one by one and identifying the most urgent ones. He also highlighted his attention on promoting and facilitating inter-institutional cooperation among Ministries, which according to the Investors is very low.

For Minister Shalsi, the foreign investments are considered to be necessary for sustainable economic development and growth of the Country and for him, meeting with the FIAA Board serves to better understand the institutional and legal obstacles that foreign companies are facing while acknowledging the positive steps taken so far.

Minister Shalsi considers the Foreign Investors as partners, who in the same time serve as ambassadors for the presentation of the extraordinary opportunities that Albania offers.

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Achievements and Challenges of Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative in Albania

February 15, 2019
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Prof.Dr. Perparim Alikaj

Member of MSG, ALBEITI

Chairman of the Mining, Oil and Gas Committee of the Foreign Investors Association of Albania (FIAA)

 

Transparency is the showcase by which a society allows appreciation of one of the fundamental human rights and freedoms, as it is the right to be informed. As such, it has been constantly in the focus of public opinion request to become familiar with the creation and distribution of material goods at national level.

The extraction industry of a country’s natural resources (oil & gas, minerals, water, etc.) while this country is blessed (or cursed?) by nature with these assets, is constantly in the focus of public attention and pressure, regarding the income and the manner of their allocation. In many underdeveloped countries, such natural resources are a curse to them, because they are the cause of internal or international wars, associated with unimaginable crimes and massacres of the innocent population, as well as the distribution of these assets under the law of force and fraud.

The “Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative” (briefly EITI in English) was first proposed in September 2002 by Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom at that time, during the World Sustainable Development Summit in Johannesburg, after years of academic debates, as well as lobbying of civil society and business companies on the management of state revenues from extractive industries. The official establishment of the EITI took place on June 17th, 2003 in London, through 140 delegates, representatives of governments, business associations and civil society, who agreed to establish a high level of transparency, based on some basic principles, transparency on payments and revenues in the sectors of extractive industries.

EITI is organized as a non-profit platform under the Norwegian state law. It has three institutional components: the Members’ Meeting, the EITI Board and the EITI International Secretariat with headquarters in Oslo, Norway. The EITI Leadership Group conducts EITI Global Conferences, which are held every two to three years.

Each country with extractive industry sectors can join EITI by applying certain set of transparency standards. Currently, there are 52 global-scale countries implementing these standards, including member states of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) such as Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as countries from Africa, East Asia, Europe and Latin America. Each of these countries is required to publish an annual EITI report to provide information on: Contracts and Licenses, Production, Revenue, Distribution of Income and Social and Economic Expenditures.

Each EITI member country is subject to a quality assurance mechanism called “Validation” (assessment), at least once every three years. Validation serves to assess the level of performance of the EITI Standards and to promote relevant dialogue and knowledge at the country level. It also maintains the integrity of EITI by keeping all EITI implementing countries at the same global standard.

The Albanian government supported the EITI initiative and was seriously engaged in its implementation in March 2009 and in May of that same year, Albania became an EITI candidate country (ALBEITI). With the decision of the Council of Ministers in July 2010, the Secretariat of ALBEITI was established, while with a decree of the Prime Minister in July 2011 was established the Inter-Institutional Group (MSG) with participation from civil society, operating companies of extractive industries in Albania and representatives by the Government. The Chairman of this Group is the Deputy Minister of the Ministry covering the extractive industry.

The EITI’s International Board declared Albania as a country compatible with EITI Standards in May 2013. This means that, the country has an effective process for annual declarations and reconciliation of all incomes from members of the EITI extractive industries. This process offers citizens the opportunity to see incomes from oil and gas companies, mining and hydropower sectors.

Through the serious engagement and dedication of the Secretariat and members of MSG, Albania has published to date, in time and quality, the annual reports on the fulfillment of the EITI Standards, as of the first report in April 2011 for the financial year 2009, to the latest report published in February 2018 for the financial year 2016. The recent reports prepared by “Deloitte Audit Albania” have also made the first steps on the voluntary inclusion of the Declarations on “Beneficial Owners” and “Commodity Trading “.

In August 2011, Albania successfully passed its first International Validation Report, subject to the status of EITI member country, while in September 2017 was completed the second Validation Report, completed by the company “Adam Smith”, Independent International Validators, which stated that Albania has made significant progress in implementing the EITI Standards. The report states that in 55% of chapters, Albania has a very satisfying performance (including Government engagement, Business Engagement, Legal Framework, Contribution to Economy, Public Debate, etc.); in about 45% of the chapters there are significant progress (MSG management, Civil Society Engagement) and only 5% are evaluated as without progress.

Albania is a country with the tradition of exploring and exploiting useful minerals such as oil & gas, chrome, copper, iron-nickel, coal, bauxite, bituminous gravel, quartzite, titanomagnetite, phosphorite, marine and river placers, gypsum, decorative stones, industrial materials, etc.

The hydrocarbon, mineral and hydropower industries have been consistently contributing to the national income and development of the country. With national policies, the Albanian Government has aimed at developing these industries through investments from the private sector, mainly foreign, but also domestic, for their own high economic risk they carry and the considerable amount of financial resources they need. To this end, the Government and Parliament of Albania have drafted and approved the relevant legislation of these industrial sectors and have upgraded it in accordance with the requirements of the time. The government is also aware of the importance of the fair management, transparency and accountability of these sectors and fully supports the recommendations of EITI reports, as an effective way for sustainable economic development.

However, I think that ALB-EITI can raise its recommendations to the Albanian Government at a higher level, for a number of problems that have been encountered in different directions of the emerging activity in Albania. Below are listed some of these problems/issues that require fast solutions:

1.      The issue of distribution of Mineral Rent revenues to the communes and municipalities, in the territory where the activities of extractive industries are being developed. This is a problem that has not yet found its final solution, since in practice there are various difficulties in the distribution and control of these incomes. Not only CSOs, but also ALBEITI’s MSG Businesses have repeatedly raised this problem, but no definitive and definite solution has been found yet. The delay in finding this final solution is not a major concern only to the public of the extractive activity areas, but also to the investors operating in these areas. By not seeing the benefits of the mining rent of the extractive industries, this public in general will not be in favor of extractive activities in its area. Consequently, the climate of conflicts between investors and residents of the extractive activity areas will be increasingly aggravated and will also create difficulties for foreign direct investment in Albania. Without the final solution to the issue of mining rent, the extractive companies will always be left with a lesser argument in the ongoing debate between them and the local population or environmentalists.

2.      The issue/problem of seriously consideration of the opinion of interest groups (business and civil society) by the Government, in particular by the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MFE), to make necessary changes to the Legislation and the decisions that regulate the activity of extractive industries. As a first example, we can take the proposals by ALBEITI on Amendments to Mining Law no. 10304, date 15.072010 and accompanying DCMs. There have been several discussions at the MSG meetings on these changes, but they are not yet finalized by MFE. The changes are related to mandatory per square kilometer costs and a high bank guarantee of investment (75% of the investment) during the prospecting and exploration period.

It is accepted that the necessary amendments to these issues will make Albania more attractive and competitive in approaching foreign investors in the Mining industry, but they have not yet been done. The fact that the Mining industry does not only include the process of minerals exploitation, but also their prospecting and exploration, without which the exploitation itself has numbered years, must be well understood. The present concept that Albania has studied and discovered all useful minerals, is as naive and harmful to the Mining industry. As a second example, we can take frequent and economically unadulterated changes to Mining Rent, as it was now the case for chromium and bituminous gravel. Even on this issue, the MFE should better understand the business arguments before making the relevant decisions, which may have undesirable consequences.

3.      Broad public awareness on the concepts and implementation of EITI Standards in Albania is a very important challenge for ALBEITI. Besides the work accomplished by the Secretariat and MSG members of ALBEITI for this purpose, it would be of interest to formalize the inclusion of these standards on higher education in some faculties, such as the Faculty of Geology and Mining of the Polytechnic University of Tirana, Faculty of Law and Economics of the University of Tirana, and in analogous faculties of private universities.

For this purpose, following a very positive process initiated by the National Secretariat EITI, a materialized coordination between ALBEITI and these Universities would be needed to definitively institutionalize this demand and to realize it in interest of knowledge, information and academic debate.

Tirana, 04/02/2019

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