IBNA Analysis/Notable expert of economy and finance in Albania, Arben Malaj, analyzes the project of the highway which is expected to link Serbia to Kosovo and Albania. Dr. Malaj says that there are several reasons why this investment must be supported.
By Edison Kurani
The recent debate on the project for the highway Nis-Merdare-Pristina-Tirana-Durres, for professor Arben Malaj has a “patriotic” character disguised under economic benefits. Malaj says that these nationalist like debates are perhaps coming as a result of the election campaign which is being held in Albania, but also due to the lack of vision, analyses and concrete economic arguments.
“We must reduce every excess political debate within the country and between countries, as they cause delays in the process of economic cooperation and act as an obstacle for EU funded projects. Every request for a full study of feasibility, total amount and funding cost must be assessed”, says the former minister of Economy.
In spite of the skepticism that some may have, the Albanian economy benefits from projects that integrate the regional economy and projects that integrate regional economies with the European and global economy.
At this point, Mr. Malaj says that investment in the corridors of development is necessary, but not adequate. According to him, EU countries, which are currently in crisis, have a European infrastructure, but they have damaged competitive abilities.
But will Albania have a direct benefit from the new Balkan corridor?
Mr. Malaj is optimistic and comments on this argument. “Our ports, railways, roads and airway infrastructure will benefit from each project which boosts trade volumes. And this is an important element in boosting private investments, national or foreign in the Albanian economy”.
Prof. Malaj admits that “the benefits from the involvement in the development corridors are not only direct, but indirect too” and adds: “These benefits do not only affect a port, railway or a road, but also the other services and sectors of the economy”.
Thus, the completion of this road, even if it’s the Serb part to be completed, may boost trade volumes which reduce costs for port services and transports, which can benefit the largest part of the countries of the Balkan region.
However, many people believe that Serbia is the main beneficiary from this project.
Mr. Malaj says that the hesitation coming as a result of Serbia’s being the main beneficiary, can be solved by increasing the list of unified priority projects between the countries of the region.
He also has a suggestion: “Albania can select projects of a regional effect which start maximizing the regional effect from our country”.
One of the main problems that the region is facing is transport that turns into a commercial barrier and which damages, as always, consumers directly, by not offering them more choices of quality and competitive prices.
Therefore, the reduction of commercial barriers is very important and the construction of this highway plays a role in removing such barriers.
Mr. Malaj says that “increases of cooperation in trade and investments must not be seen as a possibility of proportioning the small cooperation that currently exists between the two countries”. “This cooperation expands the positive effect, increases trade volumes and investments and this increase benefits more countries of the region, businesses and individuals”, he adds.
The European Union is increasing its support for projects in the physical infrastructure of Western Balkan.
But, a new concept relating to the rise in equality of opportunities that countries of Western Balkan must have before the full accession in the EU, has become immediate in both supporting the development of Albania, but also to stop the ‘exporting’ of social crises to the EU. /ibna/