Bank Lending to Construction Increases

Albania is in a period of acceleration and consolidation of economic growth, the Minister of Finance and Economy, Arben Ahmetaj, said in a press conference on Friday, while rejecting the allegations raised by the opposition for money laundering in the construction sector. "Economic growth for the first nine months of 2017 is estimated at 3.9%. The Bank of Albania, an independent institution that scans the Albanian economy, says the economy is expected to pursue a steady growth trajectory for the upcoming period by converging to its potential," the minister said to the reporters. According to Ahmetaj, construction and industry sectors are the main contributors to the economic growth. The minister also responded to the repeated accusations by the opposition that drug money is being used in the construction sector. He said that bank landings for the construction sector increased by 6.7% year-on-year, citing data from the Bank of Albania, adding that this figure is significant and overthrows any kind of emotional or political claim. Ahmetaj also said that the bank landing for real estate increased by 7.9%. According to him, this information is important to understand the growth of the construction sector. In his speech, the minister also said that unemployment declined by 4% from 2013 to 2017, adding that the participation in the labor force also increased by 4%. "Economic growth was accompanied by a rising employment," the minister said. Focusing on foreign investments, Ahmetaj said that in the 9 month period of 2017 they amounted at 667 million euro, expressing optimism for the end-of year statistics. Some 248 foreign businesses were registered in January-February period, the minister noted. "Non-performing loans dropped from 24% in 2013 to 13.2% in 2017. It is a spectacular correction in favor of the banking system's soundness and credit growth," the minister said. The minister also focused on exports, adding that there is an improvement in their structure. Exports increased by 12.1% in 2017, the minister said, noting a very positive prospect, as export growth in January increased by 23.6%. Public debt in 2017 decreased to 70% in 2017 from 70.4% of GDP in 2013. Ahmetaj said that the public debt will continue to decrease. He assured that the Public Private Partnerships (PPP) projects will be based on EPSA 2010 and guaranteed the medium and long term payments are within the macro-economic and fiscal framework of the Ministry of Finance.

Source: Panorama 

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