With soaring ceilings, bright red walls and large prints of historic Albanian maps, the “Map Room” of the Prime Minister’s office is an impressive sight. It was here that a small ceremony was held on May 30 for the official signing of a US $220 million loan agreement between the World Bank and the Government of Albania. The CID team working in Albania was invited to attend the ceremony along with the Council of Ministers, World Bank, Bank of Albania and representatives from the private sector.
“Today, by signing this agreement another page of a new chapter opens,” stated Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama.
The Prime Minister was quick to acknowledge that this agreement goes beyond his government. “Our merit,” he stated, “is that we have managed to build a team spirit with our partners.” He thanked the World Bank for making the agreement possible and went on to also thank Professor Ricardo Hausmann and his Harvard team, as well as the Bank of Albania and Albanian entrepreneurs for their part in bringing stability and growth to the country.
The agreement is significant for the government of Albania both for the recognition it shows of the economic reforms already set in place by the current government and for the confidence it places in this government’s ability to continue with its agenda of reform and growth over the coming years.
“The World Bank has ramped up its engagement in Albania commensurate with [Albania’s] reform effort,” stated Ms. Laura Tuck, World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia. “We look at Albania and see a country with tremendous growth potential and a population determined to succeed.”
Ms. Tuck praised the great strides made thus far in Albania and the “decisive leadership” of the government, but noted the challenges the country still faces.
“The macro-fiscal stabilization which you have undertaken this year will need to be sustained over the medium-term,” she cautioned. “Key structural reforms will need to be pursued with vigor, especially deepening restructuring of the energy sector, creating a more attractive investment climate and enhancing the quality of public service delivery.”
For the Government of Albania, the agreement with the World Bank represents the spirit of openness and collaboration they are trying to build.
“For us this is an opportunity to govern together with all stakeholders and all other factors of development,” stated Prime Minister Rama. “The presence here in this room of many ministers, representatives of the World Bank and of the governor of the Bank of Albania, businessmen and bankers, but also of the newly-arrived team of master students of Harvard University … are an indicator of a new opening and attempt to make the next steps together in a country which, first of all needs a new culture of governance.”
“Once more, I would like to thank our newest friends of Professor Hausmann’s team,” stated Prime Minister Rama in closing the ceremony, “who… have brought many terrific experiences from different countries where they have worked in key positions.”
About the author: Karen Vanderwillik is a summer intern for the Economic Growth in Albania project.