Prishtina, 21.03.2016 In the next month, the SAA (Stabilization Association Agreement), will enter into force and will create significant opportunities for domestic producers. Produce from Kosovo will enter the EU market without barriers and in turn this will create more opportunities for the establishment of partnerships and promotion of investments, said Besa Zogaj-Gashi Deputy Minister of Economic Development in the B2B International Conference for Women Entrepreneurs, held under the patronage of the Ministry of Economic Development in collaboration with the local Agency REA from Prishtina.
In this case Zogaj-Gashi said that in order to increase their competitiveness, local businesses and their products must have the highest quality that will meet the EU quality standards, and to this end Kosovo will have a technical assistance of 645 million euros from the EU by 2020.
She further added that women play an important role in the development of the society and the countrys economic development: Women entrepreneurs are the most powerful and most important category in the country, said Zogaj-Gashi, adding that the Government of Kosovo has addressed all obstacles raised by business representatives, including irregular power supply.
Deputy Minister Gashi reminded everyone that the construction of the power plant Kosova e Re will have a generating capacity of 500 MW, which will become a long-term solution and will achieve a stable electricity supply in the country.
Speaking about the steps the government has taken to facilitate the business environment, she stated that the new fiscal reform which entered into force in September last year envisaged complete exemption from VAT on all imports, for all kinds of machinery used in the manufacturing process, information technology equipment, raw materials used in manufacturing. This fiscal reform encourages investments and manufacturing and production.
One of the main obstacles identified for private sector investment in Kosovo is access to finance. This drawback particularly affects women who do not have property registered under their names. The latest statistics show that less than 10% of women have registered property and therefore a large number of SMEs run by women do not meet the criteria for collateral to obtain a loan.
In order to facilitate this barrier and enhance credit issuance for the private sector, the government with the help of donors adopted the Law on a Credit Guarantee Fund, which is expected to come into effect as of April this year, confirmed Deputy Minister Zogaj- Gashi, adding that loans under this scheme will begin to be issued and will cover 50% of the collateral.
Gashi added that businesses owned or managed by women contribute positively to the countrys economy and society in many ways. There are many positive examples in Kosovo of businesses that are owned or under the leadership of women.
In this occasion, Afërdita Saraqini, representative of the Womens Chamber of Commerce of Kosovo G7, said that the position of women in the Kosovo society, based on statistics, is not enviable: main barriers to women in business include corruption, unequal competition, lack of access to finance, high interest rates in banks, etc..
In her speech, Kadin Girisimcilik, President of the Kocaeli Chamber of Commerce in Turkey, told the experiences of her country, and added that women in Turkey are mainly employed in the retail sector and that they need a higher promotion or their abilities in doing business.
In addition, representatives of business associations from Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Turkey, France, Italy and other countries presented their experiences in the conference.