Tirana, 5 August 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Edison Kurani
The Albanian government claims that the economic situation in the country is improving, stressing the fact that according to it, Albania is still suffering the consequences of bad governance by the previous right wing government, which remained 8 years in power.
Meanwhile, the opposition believes that the economy has significantly deteriorated from 2013 to 2015, especially in the last 300 days.
PM Edi Rama is optimistic that the economy will continue to recover, while his predecessor, Sali Berisha, says that if the citizens protest in order to overthrow the government with any democratic means, the situation will become even more difficult.
In this analysis by IBNA for the last 300 days of the socialist government, the prime minister and the former prime minister, analyze particular sectors of the economic and social life of the country, based on their points of view, which truth be told, are completely opposite.
“PM Edi Rama says that the economy has seen sustainable growth in the past two years when he’s been in office. During 2014, which followed the first quarter of the government, the economy continued to make a sustainable turn, preserving a positive trend and in line with predictions, made since the signing of the program with the International Monetary Fund”, Rama says.
According to him, 2014 ended with a 2,12% growth, while he adds that the first quarter of 2015 saw a growth of 2,82%. The aim of the government is to remain within the 3% objective.
On the other hand, former PM Sali Berisha sees the economic situation as the most serious one in the past 23 years.
“The economy is falling and Edi Rama talks to the citizens about imaginary successes”, Berisha says.
According to him, not only the country is not seeing economic growth, but it’s also in recession. “The calculation of economic growth based on the method of consumption, which is a method widely used from EU countries, shows that consumption economic growth is minus 1,07% in the first quarter of this year. This is recession”.
According to the government, the total of revenues for the period 2014-2015 is 287 million USD higher than the period July-June 2013-2014, or 8% higher. Tax revenues for the period July 2014-June 2015 are 231 million USD higher than the same period a year ago or 7,3%. Total revenues for the first half of 2015, January-June, are 77 million USD higher than the first half of 2014.
However, Mr. Rama says that there’s a fall in revenues as opposed to projections and a detailed analysis is being conducted for this. “The analysis is being finalized, but one thing is sure: we are changing the economic model. On one hand we have a 2,82% growth of the economy, but on the other we also have a drop in revenues, which reflects, among others, the change of the structure of the economy with a significant growth of Domestic Product”.
Rama says that the fall of the import of oil, as a result of the growth of production in the country and its processing in the country, has played its role.
Contrary to Rama, Berisha says that “the economy and all of its indicators, from lending to export, to foreign investments, to current account and movement of capital are falling”.
“All of this led to revenues to be 170 million USD less than projections and around 80 million USD less than in 2014”, he says. According to him, “this led to the political decision of IMF to suspend the issuing of the loan and relations with the government”.
The government has decided to launch a big operation against informality in September. Rama reveals more on this: “It will be a complex operation. At the start of the next session, parliament will discuss the package of the penal measures against tax evasion, against contraband and against informal labor. This operation will involve customs, tax authorities, Work Inspectorate and State Police”.
Rama says that “the operation will not tolerate anyone” and “the measures will be harsh”.
According to Mr. Rama, fight against informality will be a priority in the next 300 days.
“The failure to have a cash till will receive a serious punishment. Tax evasion will be treated as a criminal act and everything will be made part of the package of criminal offenses”.
But Mr. Berisha is against these plans. “All they talk about is an operation. I am against operations. Operations lead to failure. I am in favor of the law and the law excludes operation”.
Berisha says that operations are a big chance for abuses. “Since the moment when they pledge for an operation, they automatically announce the start of abuse, arbitrariness, terror and violence and this doesn’t improve the situation, but it deteriorates it”.
Referring to the survey of labor force, compared to the first quarter of 2014, the official number of employed people is 10%, or 103 thousand and 945 more people employed.
Rama is satisfied with the survey, but says that there’s room for even more optimistic figures. “Since our first day in office, we have a very significant figure; 106 thousand and 121 new jobs, not based on surveys, but based on the data of the Albanian state and in the non agricultural sector”.
For Mr. Rama, this is “a meaningful figure, which has not solved the problem of unemployment in Albania, but it offers a clear indication about the efficiency of the government’s new policies”.
The issue of employment is seen in a different way by Berisha. He says that Rama lies when he talks about an increase in the number of employed people. “He lies, because Social Securities do not show any increases in the number of employed people. We have cases where, for example, a peasant has purchased 10 years worth of social security. This doesn’t mean that one is employed, like Edi Rama claims. Everything is extreme cynicism and a sick imagination.
Berisha also makes a comparison: “Rama says that in the past 300 days, 104 thousand people were employed in Albania, at a time when in Germany, Europe’s economic leader with 82 million people, saw the employment of 279 thousand people. Will Germans start to be employed in Albania?”
Reform in the justice system
While work for the justice reform has started, to what extent is the current majority ready to intervene for restructuring or to make constitutional changes as far as institutions such as the Supreme Council of Justice or General Prosecution are concerned?
Mr. Rama says that the reform will be made by experts. “Reform in the justice system has been based on a principle; It will be made by experts and it will be voted by parliament. It will not be made by politics and it will not be a reform involving political negotiations. It will be made by experts”.
But have experts worked so far? Mr. Rama says that an analysis has been carried out and a strategy has been built. He adds: “We will offer all our political will to the package of drafts that will come from experts”.
Mr. Berisha doesn’t have any complaints about the plan for the reformation of the justice system, but he insist for the opposition to be more active. For this he says that an agreement must be made. “Every amendment of the Constitution in the past 15 years, laws that require 3/5 votes or the lifting of immunities, has been made through agreements”.
For Mr. Berisha, the agreement doesn’t imply an introduction of politics in the reform, but it’s made to give way for maximum support. “If we say that we don’t need agreement or consensus, then what do we need? Confrontation?”. Berisha asks. /ibna/