Honorable Prime Minister,

 

Business associations, the signatories of this document, in close consultation with experts and entrepreneurs, welcome the Government’s decision to adopt measures on the protection of the public health. However, the perspective of the private sector assess that the government decisions have brought obscurity among private business, employees, inspection bodies and law enforcement institutions. Business calls and their representative’s initiatives for further clarification of government decisions have not been yet fully addressed. Moreover, given the importance of the private sector for generating employment and economic growth of the country, authorized signatories of this document to consider that besides the measures taken so far, the Government should develop a package of additional measures as a platform that ensures economic survival of the private sectors in this unprecedented situation. The protection of the private sector is vital in preserving the capacity of the state to generate budget revenues for the well-being of the population.

 

We are therefore following for your consideration this document, which is structured in two parts:

(1) Assessing the Impact of Preventive Measures against the Spread of the COVID-19 Virus, and

(2) Proposed Measures in Support of the Private Sector and the Economy of the Country. The second part of the measures is also presented in the table, together with the points of intervention and responsible institutions/decision making in the proposed measures.

After the deliberation, if the Government of the Republic of Kosovo qualifies the proposed generally measures for further consideration, then we are ready to provide detailed expertise and elaboration on specific measures.

  1. Risk assessment of preliminary measures against the spread of COVID-19 virus

 

As a result of the Government’s first decisions on the restriction of economic activities, difficulties have been reported by almost all of the private enterprises operating in different sectors in Kosovo, with e particular emphasis of the hotels, restaurants, coffee shops gastronomy sector in general, and also by the travel agencies sector. Companies have reported increases in product demand, difficulties on international goods transportation, raising of shipping prices, final products and also the raw materials. The situation created after the official announcement of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused panic and public fear reflected by an immediate decline in products and services, contractual liability payments and in a negative cash flow.  The private sector warning is that during April the current situation will disable them to keep paying workers, which will immediately result in a drastic reduction of employment rate in the private sector in Kosovo.

The biggest challenges are related to the refusal of employees to show at work, based on the wrong interpretation of the Government’s decision on remote work. Employees have also the family pressure which also disables them to be present at work field. Other companies complain about the inspection bodies policies. In some cases, inspectors have placed circular strips (forbidding access) on the shelves of non-food and non-hygienic products, clearly opposing the government’s decision. Problems arose on the first day of implementation of the decision regarding the ban on foreigners entering the country, which affected the transport operators, respectively the transport vehicles operated by foreign nationals, which caused problems in the supply of goods. This is a particular problem when it is known that consumption in Kosovo largely depends on imported products. While the ban on interurban transport has also impeded the transport of employees from their towns to workplaces, but also the internal transport organized or contracted by the companies themselves.

Also, the proposals announced by the Government of Kosovo on Sunday, March 15, 2020, have created confusion and misconceptions regarding deferment on loan installments, payments of supply services such as water, electricity, internet, and television. But also postponing of the obligation to file and pay various taxes, as well as financial reports. The economic operators, service providers mentioned above, have reported a sharp drop in payments since day one, due to the perception that consumers are exempt from paying for these services during pandemic times. Given international institutions’ estimates that the current crisis associated with the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to culminate in 10-14 weeks, then the realistic expectations are that social and economic blockchain will remain a reality for at least the next 3-4 months. The government of the Republic of Kosovo must urgently develop adequate measures to support the private sector in Kosovo. Having into consideration the fragility of the SME and private businesses, the lack of liquidity, the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 will lead to the bankruptcy of many businesses, hence the destruction of value chains and jobs will be unavoidable. Such a situation will destroy the economic fundaments in Kosovo and will bring regress in economic development.

 

In these circumstances, representatives of the private sector draft suggestions on Government measures which will support the private sector on minimizing the impact of the crisis in economic development. Private sector stakeholders consider that the proposed measures should be fully implemented despite the political developments, following institutionalized mobilization of the health sector. With one the ultimate aim, safeguarding the health and well-being of the citizens of Kosovo.

Representatives of the private sector recommend the Government to;

  • Make a public statement on supporting the proposed measures to reduce the panic among the citizens related to the supply of goods, institutional support of the private sector with the aim of normalization of the trade.
  • Take all measures to ensure sufficient liquidity in the economic system of the country, both in the public and private sectors,
  • Express commitment in close cooperation with the private sector representatives and experts, within the next seven days to develop a detailed program as a package on financial incentives on private sector support.
  • Consider country resources for partial financing of the following measures (Privatization Fund, Country Budget Reserves)
  • Ensure that this government support program will aim the minimizing the impact of crises on the country’s economy, and will maintain the largest number of business and the employment opportunities they provide.
  • Further cooperate with International Financial Institutions, for structural financing of this support program for the private sector in Kosovo.
  1. Proposed measures on the support of the private sector and local economy

 

No
Proposed measures
Intervention tools Responsible institution
1 Clarification of all government decisions

 

Public Explanatory Decision Government
 

2

The decision to extend deadlines for tax returns in KFRC as well in the Tax Administration of Kosovo. Extend deadlines of quarterly obligations on tax administration payments (including corporate income tax, value-added tax, and personal income tax).

 

 

Administrative Instruction

 

Ministry of Finance and Transfers

 

3

The decision to extend the deadline for quarterly annual reporting.

 

Administrative Instruction Ministry of Finance and Transfers

(for reports submitted to KKRF)

Ministry of Internal Affairs  ( for reports submitted to NGO’s sector)

 

4

Immediate repeal of the decision of

Ministry of Finance to suspend

all requests addressed to the Treasury for

direct payments, suspension of

temporary of all claims to

Treasury for reimbursements for legal and

physical persons, as well as all payments  of financial government obligations

to private suppliers – as well

immediate execution of obligations

from the treasury to the contractors

for the delivered works and services.

 

 

 

 

 

Amendments on the decision.

 

 

 

 

 

Ministry of Finance and Transfers

 

5

Drafting a private sector support program, including a financial package-specific amount of which will specify at

detailed support program, approx.

5% of Kosovo’s gross domestic product

valid until the end of 2020, e

divided into two phases (emergency and recovery phase), which will serve for:
(1)Providing subsidies to businesses to

coverage the operational obligations,

including payment of salaries, rents and

operating expenses,
(2) Addition of

capital and product development

new financials provided by the Fund

Kosovar Credit Guarantees, which

should be used by Commercial Banks

in Kosovo for the provision of additional liquidity through credit products for businesses
(3)Development of other measures

to stimulate the functioning of the value chains in different sectors of the economy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strategic Document

 

 

 

 

Government of the Republic of Kosovo

 

Line ministries

 

Kosovo Credit Guarantee Fund

 

Business Associations in Kosovo

 

Kosovo Bank Association

 

6

Drafting an explanatory decision of Central Bank of Kosovo on mandatory approval of all Business requirements of deferred loan installments, and restructuring all credit liabilities in a standardized way for all the commercial banks  

Public Explanatory Decision

 

 

Central Bank of Kosovo

 

7

To request removal of restrictions on

Cash withdrawal from accounts in commercial banks, especially

for non-bank financial institutions,

with special focus on those dealing with transfers of money. To exclude shipments in Kosovo.

 

 

Administrative Instruction

 

 

Central Bank of Kosovo

 

8

Repeal on local authorities’ decision for closing all businesses in municipalities. Administrative Order Ministry of Local Government Administration
 

9

Launching an official platform for publication of all government decisions and public disclosures related to preventative measures taken against the spread of COVID-19.

 

 

 

 

Decision

 

Ministry of Internal Affairs

Public Administration Department, in coordination with the ICT sector

 

10

Government to establish a fund to direct support for enterprises, employees, which activates are canceled, or highly affected by the government preventive measures against the spread of COVID-19.  In the one week government is obliged to draft the private sector support program, and to start the implementation of it latest by the beginning of April 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decision

 

 

 

 

MEETIESI

Gonvernment

 

Berat Rukiqi

Chairman, Kosovo Chamber of Commerce

Nora Hasani

Executive Director, German-Kosovar Chamber of Commerce

Arian Zeka

Executive Director, American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo

Emrush Ujkani

Executive Director, European Investor Council

Astrit Panxha

Executive Director, Kosovo Manufacturing Club