The leader of the Albanian opposition analyzes for IBNA the economic situation, which according to him, is and remains serious. The democrat leader, Lulzim Basha, has concrete plans for a positive change of the situation. He believes that the tax rises and the corruptive concessionary schemes have sunk the country into a crisis. Mr. Basha proposes significant tax cuts, especially Value Added Tax (VAT) and flat tax
Tirana, 22 June 2016/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Edison Kurani
In Albania, the economic situation is seen by the opposition as very serious. Lulzim Basha, leader of the Democratic Party, the political force that leads the Albanian opposition, says that in the past three years, the situation has worsened. According to him, the problem relates to the way his government is managing the tax system in the country, the concessionary corrupt schemes and lack of investments which has led to a significant rise in unemployment.
Mr. Basha says that the opposition has a concrete plan for rescuing the Albanian economy from the economic crisis, which according to the democrat leader, has been caused by the left wing coalition led by the leader of the Socialist Party, Prime Minister Edi Rama and leader of the Socialist Movement for Integration, speaker of parliament, Ilir Meta.
The economic situation
The opposition leader believes that the economic situation is worsening. According to him, this has come as a result of the deterioration of the business climate, as a result of corruptive pressures, tax evasion and contraband.
“There’s a significant deterioration of the economic situation as a result of the arbitrariness of the government toward businesses and the most negative business climate in Europe, as it is indicated by different opinion polls conducted by the chambers of commerce”, Mr. Basha says.
According to him, “the economic situation in the country is a direct result of the deterioration of the business climate by this government through corruption, tax evasion and contraband.”
While the impact in the state’s treasury was expected to be positive, the democrat leader says that “taxes, charges and excise grew, but as a result of tax evasion, contraband and corruption with concessions, Albania loses 1 billion euros a year, which are stolen instead of ending up for higher salaries, higher pensions, better services and public investments, they end up in the pockets of Albanian corrupt officials”.
One of the points on which Basha wants to focus relates to concessions. Basha considers them abusive and warns that he will cancel them if the right wing comes back to power.
“We have warned since the beginning that the tax rises and corruptive schemes with concessions would lead to this point and today, we are sorry to notice that our warnings have been proven right.
During these three years, we have been committed not only to denounce, but also prevent, as we have managed to do in several cases, the government’s corruption practices, especially in the so called partnership between public and private sector, but which in fact are this government’s corruptive concessions. We have terrible concessions in the health system, which receive 350 million euros from the state budget, without offering any services to the Albanian citizen. There are also other planned concessions, such as the concession of Skavica or that of the VAT”, Mr. Basha says.
The tax system
As far as the tax system is concerned, Basha also sees problems that have led to a situation which according to him is unacceptable. “The bad performance in the tax system has come as a result of the policies of this government for households, professionals and companies. But revenues have not increased because the abuse at the General Tax Directorate has amounted to 300-400 million euros a year, as it was the case last year. Customs too, where the increase of duty stamp on tobacco and oil, instead of bringing more incomes for the state budget, has enriched the clients of this government and government officials who are involved in corruption in customs and the tax system”, Mr. Basha says.
The plan to come out of the crisis
The opposition leader insists that the political force that he leads has an effective plan to take the country out of the crisis. “The plan, first of all, consists on simplifying the tax system in Albania. The flat tax of 9%, reduction of VAT from 20% to 15%, simple taxation, easy taxation, simple procedures and an end to the abuses made by the army of taxmen with small businesses and large businesses and citizens in general”, Mr. Basha says.
Meanwhile, he announces “an immediate annulment en bloc of all corruptive concessions granted by this government”.
Another important point is “to focus all government expenses to investments which create jobs, investments which help strategic economic sectors, such as agriculture, with a scheme of 1,5% of Gross Domestic Product which will be allocated for agriculture”.
Basha promises that the plan to take agriculture out of the crisis amounts to 150 million euros a year. “Corruption money which today goes for government expenses, will go directly for people in need and public investments which help the economy of the country”, Mr. Basha says.
Basha also talks about the completion of road segments, the continuation of investments in energy infrastructure and telecommunication “in order to make Albania a competitive country”.
Considering 46% of Albanians poor, Mr. Basha says that the opposition has a plan for them. “We will offer people in need the opportunity to live on the money received from social benefits. The state budget will pay the first 300 kilowatts that they consume every month and the payment of the water bill”. Asked by IBNA about the cost that these measures for the poor would have, Mr. Basha says that “the total bill doesn’t exceed 20 million euros a year, while this government spends 80 million euros a year for its offices”.
Mr. Basha says that he has discussed this rescue plan with the International Monetary Fund. He has spoken about this with the head of the IMF mission for Albania, Anita Tuladhar and the representative of IMF to Albania, Jens Reinke.
“We have shared with the heads of the IMF mission the biggest concerns of the opposition for the critical situation of the Albanian economy, as a result of the wrong policies of the Rama’s government and corruption in every domain of the management of public finances”, Mr. Basha says. /balkaneu.com/