PRISTINA (AP)--Officials in Kosovo put 20 companies up for sale Tuesday, the sixth group of socially owned enterprises to be privatized in the economically depressed province, a statement said.
The businesses include a wood and glass processing factory, a paint factory, an industrial metal processing company, a facility originally designed to be the largest bakery and cake producer in Kosovo, a nonalcoholic beverages bottling plant, warehouses and restaurants.
The companies will be sold to the highest bidder, with the deadline for submitting bids Aug. 31, said Kosovo Trust Agency, a U.N.-run office charged with selling hundreds of enterprises.
The agency was advertising the companies for sale on its Website.
Privatization is among the most sensitive issues in Kosovo, which was put under U.N. protection in June 1999 following NATO air strikes that ended a Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in the province.
The socially owned companies were owned by workers and managers under a system set up during communist-era Yugoslavia.
The process of privatization is complex in part because it is still unclear whether Kosovo will become independent or remain part of Serbia-Montenegro, the successor state of Yugoslavia. Serbia's authorities have fiercely opposed the privatizations.
Officials in Kosovo are eager to sell assets and companies to boost productivity and open investment opportunities in impoverished Kosovo. Many of the province's companies are inefficient and dilapidated, after years of neglect.
Kosovo Trust Agency Web site: www.kta-kosovo.org [ 07-06-05 1700GMT ]