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Economic recovery package passes at Kosovo Assembly

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Over four months after its proposal by the Kosovo Government, the Law on Economic Recovery COVID-19 passed a second reading after amendments tabled by PDK were accepted.

The Law on Economic Recovery COVID-19 passed its second reading at the Kosovo Assembly on Friday at an extraordinary parliamentary session called by opposition party, PDK. There were 93 deputies present at the start of the session, with 72 eventually voting in favour of the law, with no votes against or abstentions.

The law aims to provide economic relief for businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis and includes a proposal to allow citizens to withdraw 10 percent of funds from their account with the Kosovo Pension Savings Fund.

However, it had failed to find parliamentary support following its proposal by the government on July 22, with the first reading failing to pass at the Kosovo Assembly until October 12, after six previous failed attempts.

After multiple attempts to hold a second reading failed due to a lack of quorum, amendments to the law proposed by PDK were eventually accepted by the government.

The amendments include a package of 200 million euros for businesses affected by the crisis, as well as proposals for the state to pay wages to employees that lost their jobs, the removal of VAT on all raw materials, and the reimbursement of withdrawals made by pension holders with less 10,000 euros in savings, beginning in 2023.

PDK MP Bedri Hamza stated in Friday’s parliamentary session that all citizens and businesses in Kosovo would now benefit from the recovery package. “We are the opposition but we cannot stay indefinitely against the interests of the state,” he said.

Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti publicly thanked PDK for supporting the law, stating that the package was the biggest in the region based on GDP. The prime minister added that allowing withdrawals from the pension fund could provide up to 200 million euros in financial assistance.

Vetevendosje continued to oppose the law during Friday’s session, with MP Hekuran Murati claiming that the package will benefit the wealthy rather than citizens that require financial support the most.

“Ultimately small businesses will remain with nothing, while big businesses will gain millions,” Murati said. “This is not for citizens. This is not an economic recovery. The money that is being used will go to millionaires, while poor taxpayers will have to pay for it.”

The Law on Economic Recovery COVID-19 must now be decreed by the president in order to enter into force, while the Kosovo Pension Savings Fund have stated that details regarding online applications to withdraw funds will be announced in the media following this decree.

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