The Swiss and Austrian development agencies in cooperation with the Ministry of Urban Development announced on Wednesday the start of a new project on regional development in Albania.
In his speech Swiss Ambassador Christoph Graf stressed that often the focus of development and investments goes to major cities such as Tirana and Durres and other areas are forgotten.
“This is why the reform on Regional Development is so important: It aims to promote a more balanced socioeconomic development of the country and to promote the development of strong regions. Through regional development we will have less disparities between various regions of the country”, said Ambassador Graf.
He also urged the government of Albania to approve the law on regional development which is currently pending.
Minister for Urban Development Eglantina Gjermeni said that “this project is a work platform with direct and measurable impact in building institutional and technical capacities, improving the legal framework for regional development, and above all in carrying out concrete inter-local projects”.
“The concrete initiatives in the area of national and local planning have facilitated and strengthened interlocal cooperation and competition”, added Minister Gjermeni. Austrian Ambassador Johan Sattler mentioned that it is the right time to work towards equal development of the different areas of Albania.
The new regional development project is co-funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Austrian Development Agency and will be implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Urban Development. The total amount for a three-year period will be 3’445’000 Swiss francs and a part of it will go towards grant funds.
According to project staff, the aim is to ease disparities between various regions and to ensure that funding and investments reach also the more neglected areas. A strong element of the project will be to enable the government to regulate regional development through laws and decisions, and to strengthen regional institutions in order to identify and absorb more funds.
The project will also promote consultation and coordination between all institutions that deal with regional
development including ministries, municipalities and regional development agencies.
After the territorial and administrative reform there is still a need to strengthen regional-level institutions.
This means developing the economy and services in peripheral areas – not just Tirana.
The Albanian government is now preparing a reform in regional development and has established four
main regional management areas and six regional development agencies.