IBNA Analysis/Politicians, MPs, experts of economy, analysts and publicists offer their insights on the hottest topic of the month in Albania
Tirana, August 19, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Edison Kurani
In Albania, this month started with scandals and is ending with scandals, as the unprecedented theft of at least 7 million USD at the Bank of Albania has risen many questions relating to the security at the Albanian central financial institution and the responsibility of the heads of this institution.
The majority of analysts and experts believe that heads of the institution must not only be held accountable, but there must also be measures at place in order for the system to change in order not to have similar scandals in the future.
Protests and signatures demanding Fullani’s removal
While majority and opposition MPs continue to keep quiet about the scandal at the Bank of Albania, civil society is holding constant protests demanding the resignation of the governor.
Zirkon Disha is an initiator of this petition against the theft at the Bank of Albania. He told IBNA that so far, 10 thousand signatures have been collected in favor of Fullani’s removal.
In order to start a legal procedure, there must be at least 20 thousand signatures. Disha is expecting this number to be achieved. “We offer a possibility to citizens to sign a petition, which will then be sent to parliament, in order to demand Fullani’s removal. He has refused to resign and he can no longer hold his office”, says Disha.
He also addresses to MPs who support this demand, “not to become part of the theft at the Bank of Albania through their lack of action”.
Disha says that Fullani’s removal must be made in order to give way to the inquiry. “An institution cannot be investigated, if all keys are held by the heads of the institution. Justice can act when there’s sufficient room to investigate. This can only be guaranteed through Fullani’s removal”.
Meanwhile, he also talks about the plan in the days to come: “Once we collect a minimum of 20 thousand signatures, the number which is required by the Constitution for legal incentives, we will address to institutions, to the President, speaker of Parliament, Prime Minister and opposition with our petition and with a letter, where we explain all the details of this process. I don’t think they will object to this petition with 20 thousand signatures, as this would cause an unpleasant situation for all those people who are voters and part of those citizens who are ready to come out on protests during the month of September”.
Bala: The petition is a “remedy” for Albanian democracy
Agron Bala, publicist and presenter of a political show at the Albanian Public TV, says that the signatures which are being collected, have an impact for the democracy in the country. “The referendum for Fullani’s resignation doesn’t have powers to remove the Governor of the Bank, but it has a much higher power and a much bigger effect for the Albanian democracy: citizens distance themselves from politicians who lead this country and who keep thieves as heads of institutions”.
Brace: Parliament must analyze the event
Socialist Party MP, Erion Brace says that he will propose to the parliamentary economy committee to start the new parliament session with an analysis in order to identify the legal responsibilities of the Governor of the Bank of Albania, Oversight Committee of the Bank of Albania and General Inspector of the Bank of Albania.
“The analysis must hold accountable each of the leading institutions of the Bank of Albania and based on the law, it must also identify the measures that must be taken against them”, says Brace.
Manjani: Parliament must identify the problems at the Bank of Albania
Deputy minister of Transport and Infrastructure, Ylli Manjani, is also a vice chairman of the Socialist Movement for Integration, the second largest party inside the governing coalition. Manjani says that the scandal at the Bank of Albania must undergo a parliamentary debate.
He suggests that the Governor must resign. “Parliament of Albania must undertake several procedures. Resignation is a voluntary act, while the procedures for the monitoring, verification and eventually, why not, the removal of the Governor and the Council of all the heads of the Bank of Albania, is another procedure”, says Manjani.
Manjani goes even further with the problems of the Bank of Albania, when he says that the dividend paid to the state has been constantly falling and he quotes reports on this issue. “There are adequate and trusted reports to prove that the dividend that the bank of Albania has paid to the Albanian state in the recent years, has been falling, while the earning of commercial banks has been increasing”.
Xhepa: Confidence at the Central Bank has been damaged
Economy expert, Prof. Dr. Selami Xhepa says that this is not a political issue. “There’s no reason to introduce in the debate issues which relates to the independence of the Central Bank, stability of the financial system, banking system and whatever aspect of the system, when it comes to a concrete issue, which is a penal and moral issue for the heads of this institution”.
Dr. Xhepa says that events like this seriously damage the confidence of the Bank of Albania, as one of the most important institutions in the country.
“The issue is neither political, nor related to the operation and trustworthiness of the banking system, but exclusively to the way how this institution is managed. Meanwhile, the majority of the public opinion has justly focused its attention on the senior Bank of Albania officials. The theft of the treasury for the second time and the lack of reaction by the most senior officials in taking moral responsibilities on this event, makes the public opinion very sensitive on the issue in question”.
Xhepa says that the act of resignation would be the best act to restore the confidence of the public on its most senior officials.
Buxhuku: Banking sector, an oligopoly at the detriment of the public interest
Head of Konfindustria, Gjergj Buxhuku told IBNA that parliament and structures of justice must shed light upon the scandal of the theft at the Bank of Albania with professionalism, in order to address criminal, civil and moral responsibilities against structures and individuals of any level.
“The theft from inside and spanning throughout several years at the Bank of Albania, although it doesn’t affect the stability of the financial system, is the most significant event so far, which shows the poor level of management and functioning of institutions that regulate strategic markets in the country, where the banking sector is one of the most important ones”, says the general administrator of Konfindustria, Gjergj Buxhuku.
“The latest event at the Bank of Albania explains why the banking system in Albania shows clear signs of the oligopoly that harms public interest, with almost zero growth of lending, unreasonable transfer of Albanian funds abroad, with the most expensive loans in the region which encourage the dangerous phenomenon of informal loans and loan sharking, unable to support economic development in the country”, says Buxhuku.
“If the event at the Bank of Albania is not fully investigated, it may strongly harm the confidence of investors in institutions and the seriousness of the Albanian state, with very serious long term consequences for the economy and welfare of the Albanian citizens”, says Buxhuku.
Preci: Banking system has serious problems
Zef Preci, head of the Albanian Center for Economic Research says that the scandal of the theft of the treasury of the Bank of Albania, has seriously damaged national security and public credibility of this institution.
According to him, this scandal is multi dimensional, because the theft has lasted several years and it has been carried out by a significant number of Bank employee s.
As far as the governor’s position is concerned, Preci doesn’t blame him, but he doesn’t rule him out of the responsibility and the same goes for the Oversight Committee.
According to him, resignation would be a decent act on Fullani’s part. “Since the very first day, he was able to go by resigning, a way to show self respect”, says Preci.
Preci also comments the silence of the political class: “The consensual silence and the positioning of the main political forces in parliament at the moment when this was made public, was first considered by me as maturity to let the institutions work and avoid turning such situation into a problematic situation for the banking system”.
Stopping on the banking system, Dr. Preci identifies serious problems: “The poor economy, the performance which doesn’t yet meet the expectations of the fiscal administration, the wide presence of corruption, the impact of organized crime on political developments and their involvement in the most ludicrous sectors of economy are problems which relate to a better functioning of the banking system in the country”.
Lubjonja: The theft tells a lot about the abyss where we have fallen
Fatos Lubonja, one of the most prominent analysts in Albania, considers the theft of the treasury as a “fall of the state”. “The theft at the Central Bank has led to a further fall of the confidence of the citizens on the institutions of our state into a criminal abyss, where the state has fallen for a while now”, says Lubonja, known to be an unbiased critic of all governments in the problems that he identifies.
Analyst Lubonja says that the silence and the protection being offered for the governor of the Central Bank, tells a lot: “It tells a lot not only about the abyss where we have fallen, but also about the fact that this political class works as one when it comes at not opening the cover of this abyss where it has put us for 20 odd years in collaboration with its oligarchy”.
On the photo, a caricature that accompanies the bullet points of the petition for the removal of the Governor of the Bank of Albania, Ardian Fullani. The poster calls on the government and opposition to “surrender Fullani”.