Reform support totaling $220 million signed
TIRANA, May 31, 2014 – World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia Laura Tuck completed her three-day visit to Albania, during which she had broad ranging discussions with the Government and other partners on Albania’s growth and development. She took stock of the results under the World Bank’s strong partnership with Albania, and discussed the Bank’s next five-year country partnership framework to support the country’s development priorities for growth and shared prosperity. This was Tuck’s first visit to Albania since becoming regional Vice President in September 2013.
“Macro-fiscal imbalances and weak structural reforms are roadblocks to faster growth and job creation. They must be addressed”,” said Laura Tuck, World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia, during her visit to Albania. “I am pleased to see that the Government has made a good start in tackling difficult reforms in the financial sector, public finance, energy, and pensions to address these macroeconomic and fiscal imbalances in order to restore growth and create jobs.”
Tuck added, “Recognizing these efforts, and at the request of the Government, the World Bank has ramped up its engagement in Albania to a scale commensurate with this reform effort – with record lending commitments of more than $300 million in the current year, and an equal amount expected in the coming year. Maintaining steady implementation of reforms will enable Albania to achieve higher growth and increase shared prosperity for its citizens.”
In her discussions with the Government, Vice President Tuck focused on the need for sustained attention to reforms in the medium-term, including fiscal and financial management, energy sector restructuring, investment climate reform, and social protection Reform. In the energy sector, she stressed that a useful first step would be a mediated settlement over the disputed privatization of the electricity distribution company, CEZ.
“We are encouraged that Government is pursuing a rapid, mediated settlement” said Tuck. “Such a settlement would be less costly than other alternatives, allow badly-needed investments in the distribution system, and send a positive signal to private investors keen on developing Albania’s energy sector potential.”
She also discussed with the authorities the new Country Partnership Framework that will define the World Bank’s enhanced assistance over the next five years, which will include programs designed to accelerate growth, create jobs, and promote prosperity.
During the three-day visit, Tuck met with Prime Minister Edi Rama, Speaker of the Parliament Ilir Meta, Minister of Finance Shkelqim Cani and other members of the Cabinet, the Head of the Democratic Party Lulzim Basha, development partners, and representatives of the private sector. She also participated in the signing ceremony of the two recently-approved development policy loans, totaling $220 million, which support improved public finance management and financial sector stability.
Vice President Tuck visited the Tirana Property Registration Office, a Social Assistance Office in Kombinat, the Porto Romano environmental “hotspot” clean-up, and the Durres Wastewater Treatment Plant. She saw first-hand how these investments supported by the World Bank and other development partners are providing better services for citizens.