By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina — 20/02/12
Kosovo has embarked on a promotional campaign to attract investment, focusing special attention on renewing its invitation for diaspora businesses to invest in the country.
Advertisements began airing on CNN on Friday (February 17th), the fourth anniversary of Kosovo’s independence, said Minister of Trade Mimoza Kusari-Lila.
Ibrahim Makolli, the minister for diaspora, said that Kosovo guarantees security for investments as the country has removed most business barriers, allowing easier business registry, with a “liberal trade standard, favourable taxes, economic stability, and sustainable banking system”.
Xhevdet Svarca, a political adviser and spokesperson for the ministry of diaspora, said that diaspora send about 600m euros annually to Kosovo, but the money is spent on daily expenses. Svarca added that the diaspora income would benefit Kosovo more as investments.
“There would be new job openings and, therefore, there would be less need for remittances,” he told SETimes.
Svarca added that diaspora investments would attract foreign businesses to invest in Kosovo as a safe capital investment place, mentioning energy and agriculture as potential sectors.
Richard Lukaj, senior managing director at the US-based Bank Street, is a Kosovo diaspora willing to invest in the country, but said he is looking for “specific investment openings”.
“We saw several broken promises, and repeatedly tried to have specific investment offers for 20 years, unsuccessfully, in the region,” he told SETimes.
Lukaj hopes for opportunities that would engage the diaspora and create a positive investment environment, “with institutions that function well and protect investors’ interests, without discriminating in favour of somebody else”.
Avni Zogjani, the head of the Kosovo Anti-Corruption NGO, Cohu [Stand Up], considers the current government effort a last call. “Kosovo diaspora is almost not studied,” Zogiani told SETimes, adding that “we simply don’t know how much they want to and can invest,” in Kosovo.
“Corruption has made Kosovo impermeable for other businesses, except for those close to politics,” Zogjani added.