Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Official says Kosovo government neglecting previous development strategy

Excerpt from report by Arsim Bilalli: "Kosumi government starts from zero, ignores material prepared by Bajram Rexhepi government" published by the Kosovo Albanian newspaper Koha Ditore on 2 May

Prishtina [Pristina], 1 May: It has been officially announced that as of Tuesday [3 May] the Kosova [Kosovo] government will start drafting a national development strategy. With this strategy, the government intends to qualify for European Union funds over 2007-13. The process to draft the document was initiated by the EU, which has requested all countries wishing to become part of the integration processes to do the same. The Kosova government seeks also to reflect the internal economic developments in its document.

However, the current government is starting from zero again, even though several efforts were made in the past to prepare an economic development strategy. Initially, the Academy of Sciences and Arts tried to draft a strategy, but it failed. Subsequently, the Ministry of Trade and Industry came up with a document, but it was not met with due support. Finally, a working group set up by the former government led by Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi worked for a long time on a strategy, but it was interrupted because his cabinet was dissolved after last October's election.

Ministries take over experts' work

The idea to have a development strategy as soon as possible was discussed by the Ramush Haradinaj government. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi's cabinet gave the green light to the idea. The government spokesperson has declined to comment on the approach and the costs involved in preparing the strategy, but has confirmed that two teams will draft the document. "The work on drafting a development strategy will start in the first week of May, and it is expected to be completed in September," spokesperson Daut Dauti said.

The work to draft the document will be led by three officials - Energy and Mines Minister Ethem Ceku, Economy and Finances Minister Haki Shatri and Minister of Transport and Telecommunications Qemajl Ahmeti. [Passage omitted]

However, Mr Dauti could not say if the work done by the team from the time of Bajram Rexhepi's government will be considered, or if at least the material prepared by that group, which has not been dissolved, will serve as a basis for the new strategy.

"The new government has inherited a solid basis for drafting a development strategy for Kosova," Besim Beqaj, head of the former team assigned to prepare a development strategy during Bajram Rexhepi's tenure, has told Koha Ditore. "We prepared two documents that served as guidelines for the development policies in Kosova, and they involved the strategies of all ministries," Beqaj said. [Passage omitted]

The former head of the working group said that despite the changes that took place after the election, the current government should have continued with the project where it stopped. "But, this government has not taken our course. It is mainly preoccupied with the issue of Standards [for Kosovo], and has neglected economic development," said Beqaj, who was also Stability Pact coordinator for Kosova until last year.

"We left the Haradinaj government a functional document that outlined a roadmap for moving forward," Beqaj said, and noted that the current government has identified other work priorities. "With this, a lot of time is being wasted, and Kosova's economy is suffering, and in the absence of a development strategy, the country is moving towards collapse," Beqaj warned. [Passage omitted]

Source: Koha Ditore, Pristina, in Albanian 2 May 05 p 5

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