In Albania, business organizations complain about bureaucracy and the numerous procedures in the offices of the administration. They also complain about high taxes and their constant increase
Tirana, 29 March 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Edison Kurani
The head of the American Chamber of Commerce, Lorenc Gjoni has several suggestions for the improvement of the situation: “The revision of procedures that businesses encounter, the specification of their obligations, the publication of these procedures online, in order to be as easy as possible and to see it beforehand, to collect all the necessary paperwork, to visit an office if it is necessary and resolve a problem, all of this would help businesses to do business and not merely handle paperwork”.
The blocking of the Administrative Court
Several years ago the Administrative Court was established and there was a lot of talk about it. But the number of requests that swarmed this court made the process for their examination a slow one.
Businesses complain that this court has minimalist capacities.
“Given that the structure of this court is very small, there’s a queue in place and we must wait a year to handle every case”, says Luan Bregasi, president of Business Albania.
The Business Ombudsman is established
In order to prevent any delays concerning complaints filed by businesses, the government has promised that it will establish the Business Advocate.
Ministry of Finance also has such institution, the Taxpayers Ombudsman. But another one will be added, which will be at the same level with other independent institutions.
The scope of the Business Ombudsman is to examine every individual case to be investigated and offer recommendations on systematic changes.
Minister of Economy, Milva Ekonomi says that “The Business Ombudsman will handle all the complaints and then solve the complaint if it has a solution within the legislation. If not, it can put pressure for the electoral framework to be changed”.
EBRD expert, Juraj Strasser has presented the EBRD concept for the establishment of the Ombudsman institution in Albania. Strasser says that the project has been already discussed with the Albanian government and the World Bank.
The Business Ombudsman is expected to be established by the state and be controlled by it.
But the Tirana Chamber of Commerce and Industry is asking for this solution to be done by the business sector.
Nikolin Jaka, head of the Chamber, has a concrete proposal: “This institution must be elected by the business community, meaning the chambers of commerce and must be voted in parliament through a special bill”, Mr. Jaka suggests.
Jaka’s idea is also backed by IFC (International Finance Corporation). Elira Sakiqi, IFC representative says that they support the recommendations of the Chamber of Commerce. Sakiqi also says that “the delivery of requests by institutions and the government must be made based on deadlines”.
The blocking of permits has frozen constructions
Albania is known as a country “hungry” for constructions, but they have been blocked for several years.
Given the urban chaos and the endless construction permits, the left wing government is trying to put the construction process in the right tracks.
And to anticipate the deterioration of the situation until urban regulatory plans are approved and implemented, it decided to suspend construction permits indefinitely.
Now, things seem to be changing.
After the temporary blockade, the government promises that it will significantly reduce the time and procedures for the construction permits.
The representative of the ministry of Economy, Bashkim Sykja, says that the aim is to issue permits within a year and a half and not take years as they did before and become subject of shady corruption affairs.
“Time and cost will be minimized for construction permits, which are the Achilles’ heel. We are aiming for this time to be reduced to 45 days”, Sykja says.
Minister of Economy, Milva Ekonomi says that it is very important to facilitate several practices of doing business, such as the ones for the establishment of a business activity, in receiving a loan or issuing a construction permit.
But, the Chamber of Commerce of Tirana thinks the opposite. It believes that no facilities are being offered and that more difficulties are being created.
The chairman of the Tirana Chamber of Commerce, Nikolin Jaka considers the increase by two times of the construction tax as unacceptable.
“From a 4% tax on the construction price, this tax is now 8% of the price of the sale in the market and based on a mathematical calculation, it works out to be 15 times more expensive”, Mr. Jaka says.
The latest report of the World Bank stressed that difficulties in construction permits, the payment of more taxes by companies and the power shortages have had a negative impact in the business climate. /ibna/