Tirana, March 2, 2016 — Today, Cyril Muller, World Bank Regional Vice President for Europe and Central Asia, concluded his first visit to Albania. The visit focused on Albania’s long-term reform efforts to overcome its historic isolation and move to full EU and global integration. The Regional Vice President underscored the need for a long-term shift to investment and export-led growth for greater prosperity. He expressed support for Albania’s reform efforts and reaffirmed the World Bank’s strong partnership with Albania.
The Regional Vice President appreciated results of the medium-term program of fiscal consolidation, financial stability, and structural reforms to accelerate economic growth. 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. Declining losses and improved collection rates in the energy sector as well as pension reforms have enhanced Albania's social and fiscal stability.
“We are beginning to see positive results from the first wave of macro-economic and structural reforms. Completing this difficult long-term reform agenda will take time; it is critical to maintain momentum and stay the course,” said Cyril Muller. “As Albania shifts to an investment and export-driven growth, improvements in the business environment, good governance, and transparency will be key to reaching higher growth rates and building shared prosperity.”
The Regional Vice President highlighted the need to find new sources of growth for accelerating inclusive and equitable growth, including a strong push for reform of the state and its services, regional connectivity, inclusion and gender equity in labor markets, and unleashing the potential of the private sector.
During his visit, the Regional Vice President Cyril Muller, accompanied by Ellen Goldstein, World Bank Country Director for South East Europe, and Patrizio Pagano, Executive Director representing Albania at the World Bank Executive Board, met with Edi Rama, the Prime Minister of Albania, Ilir Meta, Speaker of the Parliament, Genc Sejko, Governor of the Central Bank, Arben Ahmetaj, Minister of Finance and a number of ministers, Lulzim Basha, head of the Democratic Party, representatives of the private sector, and development partners. The World Bank delegation also visited the Property Registration Office in Tirana, supported by a Bank-financed project.
The World Bank has supported Albania to achieve its national priorities since 1991 when Albania joined the World Bank. A total of 86 projects comprising over US$2.4 billion of IDA credits and grants and IBRD loans have been provided to the country. Currently, the World Bank is supporting a portfolio of nine projects, amounting to US$544 million.