Tuesday, June 22, 1999 Published at 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
Business: The Company File
UK firms gear up for Kosovo reconstruction
Rebuilding Kosovo will cost billions
British firms hoping to win the multi-billion pound race to rebuild Kosovo could enter the province within days, according to the Department of Trade and Industry.
Up to eight members of the public and private sector Kosovo RegenerationTaskforce led by Energy Minister John Battle are preparing to travel to the Balkans early next week, the DTI said.
Apparently stung by Tory claims of slow progress, the task force, which met for the first time on June 15, was originally intending to visit Kosovo last week.
But the DTI indicated that the Ministry of Defence would have to give security clearance before the delegation could travel.
Announcing the visit, Mr Battle stressed that the task force would have to resolve a "human tragedy" in the province.
"The refugees need homes and a living infrastructure to return to. Therefore, it is the task force's priority to be prepared to start the job of reconstructing the area," he said.
The Government stressed that details of the mission were still being finalised, with no firm departure date.
But Mr Battle said: "Indications are that it could be safe for a small delegation to travel to the region by Sunday or Monday."
He added: "The aim of the mission will be to start assessing the amount of damage, the amount and type of work needed to rebuild and the opportunities for UK companies to help with this work."
A website has been set up to enable UK companies to access up-to-date information about the business opportunities available in Balkans reconstruction.
Its address is: www.dti.gov.uk/ots/kosovo.
The task force includes representatives of British firms including the British Consultants' Bureau and the Confederation of British Business and officials from the MoD and Foreign Office.
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