By Avdullah Hoti
Member of the Leading Board of LDK, former vice mayor of the Commune of Pristina
2014 budget is the budget of poverty. This budget doesn’t offer economic development to reduce the dependency of 30% of the citizens of Kosovo from social allowances. Mr. Thaci is aware of this and this is why the social assistance fund has increased by 24 million Euros-from 268 million this year to 292 million for 2014.
2014 budget is reducing public investments by 90 million Euros. A simple calculation points out that this will shrink the economic activity by at least 200 million Euros.
Citizens are being manipulated by false promises of pay increases. The fund of payments has increased by by 48 million Euros, but it doesn’t provide a bigger growth than 7% of wages, as the majority of this fund goes for the wages of professors in new public universities. The manipulation consists on the fact that this amount has not been allocated to different public institutions in order to know how much wages will increase and when this increase will take place, but it’s been left up to the Ministry of Finance. I don’t think lawmakers must approve such thing.
Over 120 thousand pensioners cannot wait for increases this year. Promises for growth of pensions have only been electoral lies.
The budget is unstable, as the increase of expenses on wages (48 million Euros) and for social allowances (24 million Euros) are not secured by the increase of revenues in the budget, but by the reduction of capital expenses by 90 million Euros. Given that IMF is only interested on macro-fiscal stability, it declared that it supports this budget, while the government must deal with other issues. Nonetheless, I believe that IMF has not been consistent with its positioning, because macro-fiscal stability is achieved through a budget that promotes economic development, while the 2014 budget doesn’t have these elements.
This budget violates the laws as far as powers of communes are concerned. The law on local self governing and law on communal education are clear about the fact that communes are responsible for primary and high education, including the construction of schools. If a school is to be built in a particular area, then the funds are transferred to the commune and the school is built by the commune. Like in other years, the Ministry of Education withholds over 20 million Euros from the budget for the construction of schools according to political preferrences. As a result of this policy, many communes today have news schools with a small number of students.
The situation is the same in the local infrastructure. The Ministry of Infrastructure withholds 11.4 million Euros from the budget for local roads which by law, belongs to communes. These funds are being used to offer certain political advantages for communes.
This budget increases domestic public debt by 120 million Euros. Around 20 million Euros will be paid for interest, an equal amount of the funds spent by the government on education.
This budget neglects agriculture. With 10 million Euros worth of investments in agriculture, Kosovo will not be able to replace imported agricultural products with its products.
Around one third of the population doesn’t have access to drinking water from safe sources, while investments in such projects are zero. Also, investments in the railway transport are totally neglected, including investments in the port of Shengjin, given to Kosovo by the government of Albania.
According to the forecasts of the government, the budget for expenses for 2014 will only increase by 4.5 million Euros (from 1,585.5 billion to 1,590 billion). This way, IMF has agreed for Mr. Thaci to reduce capital spending if its wants to increase other categories of expenses. One thing must be clarified, IMF has not given a green light for the increase of wages, which the government highlights. IMF is only interested on 2014 expenses in the framework of budget. /ibna/