Abrashi: ‘My first job would be to lower Prishtina property taxes’

Arban Abrashi, LDK candidate for Prishtina mayor, discussed pollution, taxes, and urban issues on #DebatPernime.

“We [LDK] believe that Prishtina’s property taxes are too high, and there is no reason for this. We want to lower taxes to the 2013 levels,” said Arban Abrashi, the Democratic League of Kosovo’s, LDK, candidate for Prishtina mayor in the 2017 runoff elections, on Friday night.

On the closing night of the runoff election campaign, Abrashi presented his platform and promises for Prishtina on #DebatPernime, BIRN Kosovo and Internews Kosova’s mayoral debate program. Rival Shpend Ahmeti failed to show for the debate, leaving Abrashi to discuss his proposals in a one-on-one conversation with moderator Jeta Xharra.

Abrashi also said that environmental issues were of special importance for him.

“I would lobby hard; I’m not sure if I would take to the streets in protest, but I would work hard with the central government to solve [the environmental issues],” responded Abrashi to the question if there is one particular cause he for which he would protest. Prishtina and its surrounding area faced several issues around pollution this year, from air and water pollution to landfill problems.

He said that his solution to air pollution would include expanding the central heating system to decrease personal heating with wood and coal.

“The heating system should be expanded. One million euros will be dedicated towards the expansion of the heating network,” said Arashi.

Xharra clarified that Shpend Ahmeti, the incumbent mayor of Prishtina, running under the Vetevendosje ticket, had previously confirmed the invitation but cancelled shortly beforehand.

At Vetevendoje’s election campaign closing rally, held in Prishtina’s October First Hall, Ahmeti promised that by 2018 all pensioners will ride for free on city bus lines. He also pledged to build new kindergartens, improve health clinics, and extend the heating system. He also talked about today’s verdict against four Vetevendosje activists, sentenced for attacking the Kosovo Assembly building in August 2016. He said the sentence was unjust.

Vetevendosje made gains in Prishtina Municipal Assembly seats in the October 22 elections, with 17 seats, two more than LDK’s 15 seats. Abrashi said that if elected, he would approach his party’s slight minority in the Prishtina Assembly by cooperating with the other parties to avoid blockades.

Abrashi promised to build a Grand Concert Hall in Prishtina. In return, Xharra challenged Abrashi, reminding him that previous LDK administrations promised the same thing, yet failed to deliver. Still, Abrashi promised, if elected, the hall will be completed by the end of his term. The old project idea with 8,000 seats has to be rethought, said Abrashi, and the number of seats increased.

He also promised to address stray animals in the capital.

“We will give as much money as needed to solve the problem of street dogs,” he said, adding that he would focus on humane solutions with input from civil society and the Hunters’ Association.

Regarding noise pollution from cafes too close to residential areas, Abrashi said that his administration will require the cafes to invest in noise isolation.

“Maybe this could be done finding a middle ground, by lowering the sidewalk and umbrella tax, but obliging them to implement noise insulation,” said Abrashi.

#DebatPernime, organized by BIRN and Internews Kosova, hosted 19 runoff debates in during the past week of election campaigning.

After the October 22 local elections, when eight candidates squared off in the race for the mayor of Prishtina, none won the required majority. The top two candidates who won the highest number of votes, Abrashi (35.79 per cent) and Ahmeti (43.61 per cent), moved to runoff elections, which will be held this Sunday, November 19, 2017.

17/11/2017 - 21:42

17 November 2017 - 21:42

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.