Kosovo government votes to abolish tariffs on import of raw materials

Dokument predlog o ukidanju taksi
FOTO: Frontonline

The Kosovo government made a decision tonight to abolish the 100% importation taxes on raw materials while the complete revocation of taxes is expected by April 1st, Pristina-based Koha reports.

Kosovo ministers received an e-mail with the agenda and draft decisions earlier in the day and a meeting was held remotely due to measures to combat the spread of coronavirus.

According to a government decree, if the minister fails to respond within four hours, it is assumed that he or she voted in favor. Decisions on the proposals were sent to the ministers before 3 pm, therefore, taking into account that several hours have passed since then, the voting has officially ended.

All members of the cabinet from the Self-Determination movement voted, as did Emilia Rexhepi from the minority community. The two ministers from the ranks of Srpska Lista, however, abstained from voting, while LDK members did not respond to the proposals, Koha revealed.

According to the portal’s source from the Prime Minister’s office, due to not responding to the proposals, it will be deemed that LDK ministers did not vote.

Earlier today, Albin Kurti signed a document to discuss the abolition of taxes on the import of raw materials from Serbia and BiH. The decision also stipulates that the tariffs will be abolished by April 1st and then replaced by the full reciprocity principle.

The 100% tariffs on the import of goods from Serbia and BiH were introduced in November last year by the government of Ramush Haradinaj. Haradinaj, however, believes that the taxes should not be lifted until Serbia recognizes Kosovo. The tariffs blocked official dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, as the Serbian side has set the revocation of tariffs as a condition for the continuation of the dialogue.

Kurti is currently facing intense pressure, primarily from the US, to unconditionally and immediately abolish the tariffs. Kurti’s coalition partner – the LDK party was also in favor of this, arguing that there should be no compromise on cooperation with the US.

The new decision by the Kosovo prime minister arrives only two days after the LDK started collecting signatures for a no-confidence motion against the government, following Kurti’s decision to dismiss an LDK interior minister.

Still, this morning, LDK leader, Isa Mustafa urged Kurti to comply with the request of his party and the US and abolish taxes today.

In late February, Albin Kurti decided to phase out and conditionally abolish the tariffs. He first announced that he would abolish the 100% tax on raw materials from Serbia and BiH on March 15th, and on other goods as of April 1st, but only if Serbia fulfills its conditions.

On May 15th, however, Kurti announced that the tariffs on raw materials would not be abolished because, as he explained at the time, he did not “succeed in convincing LDK that gradually replacing taxes with reciprocity is the best, most honest and useful way to go”.

Kurti had also repeatedly underlined that the LDK has previously agreed and advocated for „full reciprocity“ while they were forming the coalition.

Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, flour is one of the most sought after foods across Kosovo, according to Pristina media reports. A similar situation occurred when the taxes were first introduced in November 2018, as Serbian producers were the main suppliers of raw materials for flour and flour itself.

The north of Kosovo, on the other hand, is supplied with flour from Serbia. The Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic claims Serbia has large reserves of flour and will export it to surrounding countries and supply the residents of the north of Kosovo as well.

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