On 14th of April, the Investment Council organized an extraordinary Zoom teleconferencing meeting to discuss on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on business in Albania, focusing on the financial and economic measures taken by the government to cope with the consequences of the pandemic, main business concerns, including as well potential measures to be taken in the near future.
FIAA was represented by its chairman Mr. Constantin von Alvensleben, who, together with the other business organizations participants, have urged to the government to take meaningful support measures. The requests mainly extended to: unemployment, fiscal relieves at central and local government level (e.g. timely VAT reimbursement and alleviation of penalties by the tax administration), liquidity and subventions for the re-boost of specific sectors such as the agro-industry. For certain industries, measures need to be taken for the companies to avoid employee lay-offs, including options for reshaping penalty requirements which should be mitigated during this period.
Below, there is a set of recommendations that FIAA has addressed to the Government of Albania:
FIAA thinks that a gradual startup of the economy is the best possible “medicine” for all businesses affected by the lock-down, and the restart of the economy will help all sectors, as it will give oxygen to all our lungs, and bring the revenues back which we are lacking at this very moment. The restart of the economy needs to take into consideration the public health since any sudden increase of the number of infections would trigger the reintroduction of stringent measures.
- Textile sector, which is helped by a rapid switch to the production of masks.
- Oil production industry is in great difficulty due to a complete crash of demand resulting in a severe liquidity situation.
- An accelerated VAT reimbursement would help all businesses in Albania, but in particular those which are closed completely. In addition, we think that other measures may be considered.
- Tax prepayments are based on the profit of the previous year, such creating a problem, even if tax payments have been postponed in time. For the vast majority 2019 has been a great year, but in 2020 revenues are heavily reduced since middle of March. To make prepayments based on pre-year profits is a heavy burden. In addition, the volume of sovereign guarantee offered by GoA so far, may be too tight to cover the demand for loan guarantees.
- Tourism (hotel sector, airlines and airport) are severely affected by the complete lock-down. Any supporting measures and schemes by the Government will be fundamental.
- Air transport is currently completely shut down except for cargo traffic, but air transport is also hugely important for getting the economy going again, since not only airlines and airport depend on an open sky, but also the hotel and tourism sector need the air travel to survive! Without the air passengers the situation will continue to be depressed for tourism. Obviously, the reopening of air transport has to be done with the greatest precautions to avoid the re-import of the virus, which we are fighting so well in Albania.