World Bank Backs $1.2 Billion Program to Help Albanian Economy

The World Bank endorsed a $1.2 billion lending program for Albania to support the Balkan nation’s economy as it aspires to join the European Union.

The board of executive directors backed the five-year Country Partnership Framework aimed at supporting Albania’s economic overhaul, the Washington-based lender said in a statement on Friday. The directors welcomed the country’s recent progress in pursuing “macro-fiscal and structural” measures as well as the government’s “strong commitment to these long-overdue reforms,” it said.

“Albania has a historic opportunity to break with the past and accelerate its path toward prosperity and integration into the EU,” Ellen Goldstein, World Bank Country Director for Southeast Europe, said in the statement.

Prime Minister Edi Rama is seeking to bring one of the poorest European nations to the 28-member bloc and bolster economic growth to lift living standards closer to EU levels. The Tirana-based cabinet forecasts gross domestic product to grow 3 percent this year and sees it accelerating to 4 percent or 5 percent within three years on increasing investment in the energy industry.

The World Bank is supporting eight projects in Albania, with a commitment of $512 million, while its private-sector lending arm, the International Finance Corp., has a committed portfolio of $136 million, according to the statement.

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