By Linda Karadaku

Kosovo's privatisation process dates back to the UNMIK administration, during which the Kosovo Trust Agency (KTA) was formed. It continued with the Kosovo Privatisation Agency (KPA), established by lawmakers in 2008.

So far, 295 state-owned enterprises have been privatiSed, including the Ferronikel mine in Glogovac and the Sharr Cement Plant, and 650 new enterprises were created.

"We believe that the privatisation process is the first step towards economic development, which means creation of stable work places," KPA spokesman Ylli Kaloshi told SETimes.

Trust funds administered by the KPA to handle the proceeds have collected 578m euros, with 537m of that amount coming fron the privatisation ofsocial and state-owned enterprises, he said. The rest was from sale of assets by liquidation.

Workers receive a 20% share of the sale price after privatisation. According to Kabashi, around 43.5m euros have been paid out to employees as a result -- 15m distributed by the former KTA over a six-year period, and 28m by the KPA.

The agency, however, acknowledges the privatisation process has not been a complete success. Officials say one problem is Serbia's ownership of various SOEs and contracts signed during that era.

Another obstacle has been the slow pace of liquidations.

"The liquidation process has not achieved the desired progress," Kaloshi says. "The reason is the legislation in effect, which requires about three years for the liquidation of an enterprise. There are about 600 enterprises to be liquidated, which means having this process continuing ... for 30 years."

"Therefore it has been considered necessary to make legal changes, a process that is being worked out," he said.

Substantial changes are included in the law on the Privatisation Agency, intended to drastically accelerate the process and replace outdated UNMIK regulations. Parliament has approved the package in principle and its final approval is expected.

Kosovo analyst Ibrahim Rexhepi tells SETimes that the privatisation of social owned enterprises is in the final phase. The two main challenges are Trepca komplex, which extracts and processes minerals, and the Brezovica tourist complex.

In the latter case, "the political problems and Serbia's pretentions for ownership are harshly reflected," he said.

Rexhepi believes the government should sell part of the assets of public enterprises, not so much to fill government coffers, bur rather to eliminate the state monopoly in certain segments. But the sales should be done step by step to eliminate economic and social problems, he said.

Kosovo's Instutute for Advanced Studies, GAP, organised a debate on the privatisation process in April, which concluded that changing the legal basis for privatisation and drafting relevant new laws is an urgent issue.

Participants stressed, however, that the process should be transparent and not fast-tracked as were laws in the Ahtisaari Package. The Law on the Kosovo Privatisation Agency was part of that package.


- Provided by Southeast European Times


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