IMF to Albania: Ensure 1-euro sale plan transparency

TIRANA (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) told Albania on Wednesday to make sure its plan to entice investors by offering everything at a cost of only 1 euro ($1.27) was transparent, competitive and fair. Prime Minister Sali Berisha wants to make Albania the most attractive country in the world for investors by offering land, water, and business registration for 1 euro. «It should be a transparent scheme, a competitive scheme,» Istvan Szekely, head of the IMF mission to Albania, told a news conference. «If you have to select, then the best should get it so there should be no favoritism.» Berisha, who came to power in 1992 as Albania’s first democratically elected president, has long spoken of his vision of Albania as «a second Taiwan,» bustling with trade and small businesses at the crossroads of Western and Eastern Europe. His ministers have been given the task of designing the «Albania One Euro» platform for foreign and domestic investors, and details are due to be announced later this week. Szekely said the IMF supported the idea but had yet to hear details. Stressing the need for fairness, he said the experience of other countries showed incentives targeting a specific group of investors did not work. «Our view is that the best help you can give any investor is to have a clean, simple tax system with low-compliance cost and a good tax administration.» Investors were heartened by the signing in June of the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union, the first step to eventual membership of the European Union.