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Albania Opens First Stock Exchange

May 2, 1996

TIRANA, Albania (AP) _ The national bank opened Albania’s first stock exchange Thursday, helping the nation take another step toward replacing the vestiges of a centrally planned economy with a free market.

``The Tirana stock exchange came as a natural phenomenon and not as an administrative measure,″ said Kristaq Luniku, governor of the Albanian National Bank.

He said stability, privatization and the economic development of the country prepared the nation for a stock market.

The British ``Know How Fund″ has provided technical assistance to the Albanian National Bank for this project.

Initially, the stock exchange will operate twice a week and offer treasury bills and privatization vouchers, said its president, Albina Karamitro.

Representatives of Albanian banks, the Insurance Institute and individuals will be licensed to operate in the exchange.

In Albania, one of the poorest countries in Europe, the average monthly wage is under $70. But it already has some enterprises that are wealthy even by Western standards.

Economists believe the stock exchange will speed up privatization and create more investment opportunities. President Sali Berisha hailed the opening as a ``testimony of the economic stability of this country.″

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