Albania plans to boost the under-performing tourism sector by offering to lease land for development at a symbolic price of only one euro.
A secluded beach in South Albania | Photo: Wikimedia
Albania is going to lease state land and properties with tourism potential to investors for the symbolic price of only one euro.
The decision taken on Wednesday does not target everyone. "Strategic investors" must be able to stump up at least 50 million euros for a touristic project.
In return, aside from almost free land and properties, the government will offer them up to 99 years of the return of their investment. After that, the investment will be considered state property.
"This agreement is required to pass through parliament," the draft cautions.
The decision follows a low rate of foreign investment in the tourism sector, which the Albanian government considers a priority for development.
In its draft, the government asks the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism to lead the process of identifying all state-owned tourist sites and pitch them to interested investors through public calls.
The Council of Ministers and in some cases parliament will to give their approval first for certain key investments.
"The application becomes unsuccessful if the Council of Minister does not give its approval," the draft notes.
Numerous criteria are set for the companies or consortia that want to invest, starting from past financial statements to a guarantee that they are in a position to invest now at least 10 per cent of total amount that they plan to invest.
Arben Malaj, a former minister of Finance and Economy and head of the Institute for Public Policy and Good Governance, told BIRN that the government is involved in a "regional fight" for foreign investment by easing fiscal burdens and other tactics.
“The removal of high prices for land in the touristic areas may bring in potential investors,” he explains.
Since property issues in some touristic areas are complicated and have involved the courts for years, Malaj says the government must be careful not to impinge on private properties when a potential investor seeks to acquire land.
“These cases create serious struggles, dragging out the process and making it fail,” he warns.
Malaj believes the imitative creates a risk of corruption as well.
“The process requires professional and transparent selecting procedures. The government has to prepare the map of potential projects and conduct the most competitive process,” he advises.
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