Doing Business More Easily in Kosovo

Lindita Lepaja, Public Information Assistant in the Pristina Office, offers this story.
The first time Muharrem Osmani opened a business, he had to travel from north Kosovo to the capital several times to fill out paperwork; the registration procedure lasted two weeks.
Recently he registered a new shareholder in a couple of hours at the Mitrovica Municipal Business Centre—a short drive from his detergent, shampoo and vinegar manufacturing plant.
"It was very difficult before," says Muharrem. "We had to spend a lot more time and money in lengthy administrative procedures. Now, with the business center in town everything is easier, we receive all the services we need fast and for little money."
That frees up more of his time to focus on running the family business.
Administrative barriers to starting and operating a business were a burden on many companies throughout Kosovo.
Firms identified a number of constraints to doing business in a 2003 survey. They included unfair or informal competition, regulatory policy uncertainty, and corruption.
Thirty separate sets of regulations for licensing and construction permits—many of them ill-defined—existed in different municipalities. Enforcement was lax, and health and trade inspections were inconsistent.
To streamline regulations and encourage business development, the government supported establishing thirty municipal business centers where citizens can obtain permits and business registrations, pay taxes and customs fees—as well as get advice. These centers were set up under a US$7 million project supported by the World Bank.
So far, 22 business centers have opened throughout Kosovo, significantly reducing administrative barriers for businesses.
Since opening in July 2010, staff at Gjilan municipality's business center have registered hundreds of new businesses—more than any other business center in the country. They have assisted almost 1,400 clients to register businesses, change registrations, or close a business that isn't succeeding. Making it easier and faster to close a business allows business owners to free up capital to invest in other ventures.
The centre has an online database directly connected to the Kosovo Business Registry Agency in the capital Pristina.
Fatmir Halili heads the Gjilan centre. "We are receiving very good feedback from our clients. And we aim to function as a one-stop-shop in the future, offering clients all municipal level services," he says.
Doing business still remains a challenge in Kosovo, but the government is committed to reforms that will simplify bureaucracy, reduce the number of permits and licenses needed, improve inspection capacities and streamline the legal framework.

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