Excellencies, Ambassadors and distinguished guests,
I am delighted to welcome you all to the official launch of the new Country Partnership Framework for 2017-21 that the World Bank Group has developed in partnership with the Kosovo’s authorities.
The new Partnership Framework is another milestone in our longstanding partnership with Kosovo. It has been 18 years since the World Bank opened its office in Pristina back in 1999.The country and our partnership have come a long way. Kosovo became an official member of the World Bank Group in June 2009 and until today the World Bank has provided around US$ 450 million in grants and credits. We can be proud of some of the results that so far we have achieved together with the Government and also with some of the other partners and donors that are here today with us. For example; over 1400 new jobs for young people were created through entrepreneurship and apprenticeship grants provided during 2012-2016. The new CPF will continue to support strengthening employment opportunities of youth and women. As you go around the exhibition you will see other examples of results that have been achieved.
I am also happy to see some of the recent good news we got from Kosovo, which are a testimony to the progress that is happening in the country on a continuous basis. In the Doing Business Report that was just launched some days ago, we saw Kosovo climbing to the 40th position out of 190 economies in the ease of doing business. Remember that Kosovo was ranked 117th just five years ago, in 2012. The change was driven by improvements in business registration and cadastral and land registration systems.
We also expect the economy to keep growing next year above regional averages, with exports and services playing an important role in this growth. The Western Balkans Regular Economic Report will be launched tomorrow at the World Bank offices, for those of you who may be interested in the details.
But let me come back to our Country Partnership Framework for a moment and give you a very brief overview of what we will be trying to achieve in partnership with Kosovo’s authorities and donor partners. The strategic objective is to help Kosovo provide its citizens greater opportunities for a better life. We want to help Kosovo create the conditions for a more sustainable, export-oriented, and inclusive economic growth. Economic growth has been robust in the years following 2008 - above Western Balkans averages. However, the country still has not significantly broadened employment opportunities for its citizens. Kosovo risks missing out on opportunities from the demographic dividend offered by its large proportion of young people, who may risk remaining unemployed long-term or inactive in the labor market.
The strategy supports Kosovo’s development agenda by focusing on three areas - accelerating private sector growth and job creation, improving public service delivery, and promoting reliable energy.
During the implementation period of the strategy the World Bank Group is planning to provide around US$ 250 in financing to the country. Kosovo is still eligible for financing from the International Development Association of the World Bank Group, which provides credits on concessional terms, with very low interest charges and long repayment periods.
Today, we have also tried to present the CPF in a more visual way to celebrate with all of you the launch of the new strategy; and to this end I invite you to explore the photo exhibition we have here. For those of you who still want to read the whole document, we also have some hard copies for you take home.
Of course, everybody knows that planning is far easier than implementing. And we should also not be content with just past achievements. I therefore call on our strong partnership to implement our Strategy in support of Governments efforts to provide citizens of this country with greater opportunities for the future. To this end, I also count on all our partners and donors who are here with us today to join efforts and forces.
Thank you all for coming today to celebrate with us the new milestone in our strong partnership with Kosovo. I very much look forward to working together with all of you.
Please enjoy the evening with the exhibition, some music, drinks and the best of the companies.