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Tuesday, July 27, 1999 Published at 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK

Business: The Economy

Counting the days in Pec

People in Pec are desperate to kick-start the economy

By Nils Blythe reporting from Kosovo for BBC1's Business Breakfast

The town of Pec in western Kosovo was been devastated by the conflict.

Rebuilding the Balkans
Houses and businesses owned by the ethnic Albanian community were destroyed by their Serb neighbours and the Yugolsav army.

Now the Serbs have fled, but the destruction remains.

[ image:  ]
A plastics factory on the outskirts of town which used to employ over 100 people was used as a base by the Yugoslav army during the war and blown apart by Nato bombs.

Its former manager has no criticism of Nato for the bombing, but can only guess at what the damage means for his own future.

Now living in a tent in the ruins of his former home, Ismaijl Haki Nushi wonders if the business will ever re-open.

"Like me other workers have returned but there's nothing to do. We're just cleaning up the factory but eventually I suppose I'll have to find another job," he said.

Shattered lives

It is not only the workers in factories hit by Nato bombs who are facing an uncertain future.

[ image: Market trading is one of the few ways to earn a living - but the old marketplace lies in ruiins]
Market trading is one of the few ways to earn a living - but the old marketplace lies in ruiins
The whole economy has been shattered by the war, and people do whatever they can to earn a little money.

Opening a market stall is one of the few ways that people who have lost everything can earn a little money.

One formerly successful entrepeneur now trades on a market stall after losing his house, his fruit and vegetable store and thriving billiard hall.

"Everything was completely destroyed. Two cars that I owned were also stolen. It's very difficult now to be able to survive. That's why I'm forced to do this. I have five people to support," said trader Jusuf Hajdini.


No goods are being produced locally, so market traders have to cross to neighbouring Albania and Macedonia for supplies - the first sign of returning economic life.

Nils Blythe reports on the huge task involved in rebuilding industry in Kosovo
But re-opening large factories is a much more complex enterprise, requiring supplies of raw materials, electric power and a way of distributing what is made.

Amid the appalling destruction, some of the big factories around Pec are trying to start up again.

[ image: Factories lie empty for days while power cuts drag on]
Factories lie empty for days while power cuts drag on
The largest business that has attempted to re-open is the local brewery.

Serb managers in charge before the war have all fled and the new boss is a returning fighter from the Kosovo Liberation Army.

But the main problem is the frequent power cuts, which are impossible to predict, and bring production to a grinding halt for days on end.

Counting the days

Word that beer is sometimes produced has spread and lorries are queuing up outside to buy supplies.

[ image: When anything is produced, queues of buyers are waiting to distribute it]
When anything is produced, queues of buyers are waiting to distribute it
Many have been queuing for a long time.

"I've travelled about 70 kilometres to get here and I've been waiting for 4 days," said engineering graduate Samee Gashee.

Waiting for things to get going again is the shared experience of everyone in Pec.

Although some businesses will restart unaided, many more will need outside help.

Pec's newly-appointed mayor - another former KLA fighter, Ethem Ceku - says help cannot come quickly enough.

[ image: Help cannot come quickly enough]
Help cannot come quickly enough
"We are counting the days and hours, not the months. Every Albanian family in Kosovo has had someone killed or had their economic position changed for the worse. So we are appealing to the international community for financial help, because without their help we can't survive, " he said.

The first signs of rebuilding Kosovo's economy can already be seen on the streets of Pec.

But it will be a long time before most people in this town can resume ordinary jobs and ordinary lives.

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