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Saudis considering proposal to finance construction of SR600M Albanian parliament

Source : Ghazanfar Ali Khan | Arab News
RIYADH | 05 Jun 2011

Saudi Arabia is currently discussing a proposal to finance the construction of a new SR600 million parliament complex in Albania, a nation with a predominantly Muslim population in southeast Europe.

The Kingdom, in a gesture of solidarity and support for Albania, is willing to finance the parliament project, which will cover an area of 28,000 square meters in the capital city of Tirana, said a senior Albanian parliamentarian in Riyadh Sunday.

Dr. Sherefedin Shehu, chief of the economic & finance committee of the Albanian parliament, unveiled some details of the parliament project and gave an overview of Riyadh-Tirana relations in an interview on Sunday. Shehu, accompanied by three other Albanian parliamentarians, were speaking on the sidelines of a business meeting hosted by Waruz (Food and Rice Trading Company). Albanian Ambassador Admirim Banaj and Waruz Sales Manager Amir Qayyum were also present.

Referring to his talks with senior Saudi officials including Shoura Council Chairman Abdullah Al-Asheikh, Shehu said "details of the plan to finance the parliament project would be announced during the visit of Albanian Parliament Speaker Jozefina Topalli Coba to Riyadh within a few months from now.”

Shehu also held talks with Minister of Health Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, Minister of Higher Education Dr. Khalid Al-Anqari and Managing Director of Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) Yousef I. Al-Bassam.

Asked about new Saudi aid and loan facilities extended to Albania, he said his country’s Parliamentary Committee on Economy has approved the agreement between the Albanian government and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) for financing construction of the SR1.4 billion Tirana-Elbasan Highway Project.

“The IDB is providing the core financing of SR862 million,” he added. “This project is also being supported by the SFD and a few other Gulf institutions,” said the Albanian parliamentarian.

“The total length of the Tirana-Elbasan Highway will be 28 kilometers, which will in fact shorten the driving distance between the two large cities of Albania by 30 km because of the tunnels to be carved out of the mountains,” said Shehu.

He pointed out that the old road linking Tirana with Elbasan was a curved narrow passage through slanted mountain surfaces. He said the Albania state budget is already overstretched because of the massive need of funds to support necessary plans and projects.

To this end, Shehu sought the support of the Kingdom to co-finance the SR2.2 billion “Rural Roads Project of Albania,” which will improve the quality of life in rural areas there.

He pointed out that the IDB and the OPEC Fund for Development together with a few international organizations including the World Bank have pledged support for this project.

The SFD, he said, had also committed to co-finance this road project. The two sides are also working on proposals to recruit workers from Albania such as nurses and skilled workers, said the Albanian parliamentarian. Riyadh and Tirana are also looking to boost cooperation in the education sector.


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