TIRANA, January 20, 2016 — Achieving lasting poverty reduction and shared prosperity in Albania requires an economic strategy that is equitable and generates long lasting economic and employment gains. Macro stability and comprehensive structural and institutional reforms are necessary ingredients for success. These were the main messages of a seminar, organized by the World Bank in Tirana, on opportunities and challenges for Albania to accelerate an inclusive and equitable growth for its people.
The event was chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister Niko Peleshi, with World Bank presentations by Ellen Goldstein, Regional Director for Southeast Europe and Ana Revenga, Senior Director of the Poverty and Equity Global Practice. Representatives from the Government of Albania, Ministers, Parliamentarians, development partners, Institute of Statistics, academia, civil society, and media took part in the event, which was dedicated to the late Director of the Institute of Statistics, Gjergji Filipi.
“Albania needs to rekindle and rebalance economic growth, moving from a past growth model led by consumption, to a new one driven by investment and exports; reforms in this direction are starting to pay off”, said the World Bank Country Director for Southeast Europe Ellen Goldstein. After being hit by the global financial crisis of 2008, the Albanian economy is recovering and is expected to grow at 3.5 percent per year in 2016-17. Key reforms in the areas of energy, pensions and public arrears clearance are starting to deliver positive results. Fiscal deficit is narrowing and public debt is on a stabilizing path. Declining losses and improved collection rates in the energy sector as well as pension reforms have enhanced Albania's social and fiscal stability.
“Alongside efforts to accelerate and sustain economic growth, reforms should also aim at accentuating its inclusiveness and poverty reduction impact”, said Ana Revenga, Senior Director of the Poverty and Equity Global Practice. This requires improving the quality and inclusiveness of labor markets by eliminating disincentives and barriers to formal jobs, and making public services more efficient. Continuing the implementation of sound fiscal policies, informed by the impact on poverty and inequality, will ensure lasting gains in income growth and poverty reduction.
Moving forward, Albania needs to stay the course on reform implementation aimed at restoring macro-fiscal sustainability, ensuring growth benefits all, fostering inclusion and stimulating private sector growth. Unleashing the potential of the private sector and its contribution to jobs and growth will require world-class institutional and business environment, transparency and good governance.
The World Bank currently supports 9 projects in Albania with a commitment of US$544 million.