Dear Minister Ahmetaj, Minister of Economic Development, Trade & Entrepreneurship and Tourism Development; Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen
I am delighted to be here with you at this joint Government/World Bank Group Workshop on PPPs. This is an excellent opportunity to exchange ideas and deliberate on the necessary ingredients for successful public private partnerships.
Before I say a few words on PPPs in relation to this workshop, let me share the emerging direction of World Bank Group’s upcoming country strategy which will guide our engagement in Albania during the coming 4-5 years. As several of you know, we embarked on a Systematic country Diagnostics for Albania which addresses the question of how to accelerate equitable growth in a sustainable manner, thereby achieving progress in reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity. In doing so, the Diagnostics identified the top priorities critical for Albania’s sustainable and equitable growth.
One of the top five priorities emerging from this Diagnostics pertains to establishing a high quality business environment. The SCD empirically demonstrates serious shortcomings in the business environment by global standards, notwithstanding some recent and notable progress – most visible through the Doing Business report. Central constraints include a heavy regulatory burden, inadequate framework for private investment (including Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), high informality, property rights issues, weak trade logistics and facilitation, and inadequate corporate governance. Given the central role and contribution of private sector in economic growth, and the top priority Government has assigned to it, the WBG will engage more deeply in this area and our new strategy will support Albania’s efforts towards creating the right conditions for accelerated private sector growth. This will be one of the three pillars of our new Country Partnership Framework.
WBG engagement reflects not only our global comparative advantage in this area (most visible through our Doing Business Report) but also successful engagement in neighboring Balkan countries. Our engagement exploits the complementarity of IBRD and IFC, building on an ongoing IFC advisory engagement. It brings WBG expertise in assisting the Government to pursue legal and regulatory reforms aimed at improving the business environment and investment climate. We are pleased that the Ministry of Economic Development has a leadership role in this cross-cutting area. We see it as a strong champion and focal point for deepening reform in this area.