World Bank Vice President Laura Tuck Discusses Medium-Term Development Priorities in Kosovo

March 13, 2015

PRISHTINA, March 13, 2015 – World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia Laura Tuck visited Kosovo during March 12-13, 2015, to see first-hand Kosovo’s growth opportunities and development challenges and to open consultations with relevant stakeholders on the new Partnership Framework for Kosovo for 2016-20.

During her visit, Tuck met with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, Isa Mustafa, and senior government officials, with Assembly Speaker, Kadri Veseli, and the heads of all parliamentary groups, as well as with representatives of other development donor organizations.

“Creating jobs and lifting people out of poverty are a priority in Kosovo.  The World Bank Group will continue to support Kosovo’s reforms aimed at making this happen and bringing the country closer to European living standards,” said Laura Tuck, World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia. “Improvements in education and in the business environment – critical to Kosovo’s efforts to boost economic growth and productivity, and to reduce its high unemployment – are some of the areas to be supported by the World Bank Group in the coming years.”

Tuck also visited the outdated and polluting Kosovo A power plant near the capital Prishtina and met with officials working in the country’s energy sector, which remains the key obstacle to meeting Kosovo’s socioeconomic development objectives. The lack of energy security has large costs to business and prevents Kosovo from being able to attract high-quality direct investments to Kosovo on the scale and scope necessary to increase productivity in key sectors of the economy and to create new jobs.

“Reliable and affordable energy is central to growth and poverty reduction, and the World Bank will continue to support Kosovo in developing a more efficient, modern, cleaner electricity system, with the aim of addressing Kosovo’s energy crisis in a comprehensive way,” said Tuck. “This involves seeking to balance energy security and energy affordability, while mitigating the adverse environmental, health, and social impacts on citizens.”

The World Bank and the Government of Kosovo have recently signed a financing agreement for a US$31 million Kosovo Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Project, which aims at reducing energy consumption and fossil fuel use in public buildings and demonstrating the economic viability of corresponding investments.

It has also invested some US$14.7 million in environmental cleanup of the power plant area. Approximately 6,000 tons – over 300 truckloads – of high organic content materials (tars, benzene, phenols, methanol, and oily compounds) have been removed out of country and treated in licensed facilities and 15,000 tons of low level organic content materials have been treated locally. A wet ash handling system has been installed replacing the air polluting open handling system of ash. Over 85 percent of the ash dump with a surface of 243 hectares, created by over 50 years of operation of the coal-fired power plant, has been rehabilitated and 70 percent of the total overburden area, created from past mining operations, has been reclaimed. More than 150,000 plants have been planted in these re-cultivated overburden dumps. In addition, regular environmental monitoring of air, in the area of the power plants, has been established.

The World Bank’s current program in Kosovo is anchored in its four-year Partnership Strategy 2012–15, which, in support of Kosovo’s EU integration objective, helps the country to (i) accelerate broad-based economic growth and employment generation; and (ii) improve environmental management.

Today, there are seven active lending operations with commitments totaling US$129 million. These operations provide support in a wide array of sectors, including energy, education, public sector reform, cadastre, agriculture, social inclusion, and financial sector strengthening.

Since 1999, the World Bank has provided and/or managed roughly US$400 million to Kosovo through more than 30 operations.

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