Expanded Kosovo Transitional Council to be inaugurated on 9 February: The new expanded Kosovo Transitional Council (KTC) -- the highest level political consultative group to UNMIK -- will be inaugurated on 9 February, UNMIK said today. In the meantime, the proposed list of new candidates is being discussed by KTC, which met today to discuss its proposed expansion to include more minority representatives, political parties and members of the Kosovo civil society. The KTC will resemble an "interim parliament" until elections are held, the head of UNMIK, Dr. Bernard Kouchner, told members.
Tax inspectors sworn in: The first 34 tax inspectors in post-conflict Kosovo graduated from an intensive training course and were sworn in yesterday. UNMIK spokeswoman Susan Manuel said in a statement today that the inspectors would begin work immediately for the Kosovo tax administration, which is a part of the Central Fiscal Authority. Meanwhile, the head of UNMIK, Dr. Bernard Kouchner, has signed two regulations on excise and sales tax collection, which will make it possible to collect taxes for imported goods at depots inside Kosovo. This will affect goods entering Kosovo through Montenegro, which will now be subject to sales and excise taxes to be paid at the clearance depots. Taxes on other goods entering Kosovo, or good produced in the region, will be collected where they are produced and at tax collection offices. The sales tax will be equal to 15 per cent of the taxable value of all goods.
Kouchner to visit Japan to discuss funding: Head of UNMIK, Dr. Bernard Kouchner leaves tomorrow for Japan to seek additional funding for the Kosovo budget. UNMIK spokeswoman Susan Manuel said in a statement today that Dr. Kouchner would meet with Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and Foreign Minister Yohei Kono and other political leaders. He will also visit the United Nations University and give a lecture at the Japanese Institute of Foreign Affairs. En route, he will stop in Brussels to meet with the President of the European Commission, Mr. Roman Prodhi, and the European Union Commissioner for External Affairs, Mr. Christopher Patten, to discuss the Kosovo budget and fund-raising.
Sweden to give funds to repair Kosovo's power plant: The Swedish aid agency, SIDA, will give "several hundred thousand dollars" towards the repairs of a Kosovo power plant unit which was damaged by fire two weeks ago, UNMIK said today. Work on the repairs has already begun.
Resumption of vehicle registration delayed by theft: A new date has to be set for the resumption of vehicle registration following a break-in two days ago at the vehicle registration centre in Dragodan, in which computers were stolen, UNMIK said today. Registration was originally set to resume on 1 February.
UNMIK Police investigating burglaries: UNMIK Police said today they are investigating burglaries in the offices of the Red Cross, the Centre for Peace and Tolerance, and Office of Human Rights in Kosovo Polje in which valuable items were stolen. The police are also investigating an incident in which unidentified suspects yesterday threw two grenades at a residence owned by Serbs in Lipjan, in the Pristina region. One of the grenades exploded and caused property damage.
Pristina Airport to open to instrument flight rules by 1 March: Pristina Airport is expected to open to instrument flight rules by 1 March, UNMIK said today. The airport is has been operating under visual flight rules since it was opened to civilian traffic two weeks ago, but all the instrumentation necessary for instrument landing are in place and are being calibrated. The British Government's Department for International Development is spending over three million sterling to install beacons, runway lighting, measuring-in equipment and all systems required for full airfield operation.
The airport has handled nearly 4,000 passengers since the reopening, according to KFOR. Of this total about 500 are refugees returning from overseas with their families. In addition to passengers, nearly 150,000 kilograms of freight have been offloaded in this two-week period, much of it humanitarian cargo.
For further information, contact the Spokesman's Office: tel (212) 963-7161/2; fax (212) 963-7055.