“The government must fear the people and not the opposite”

“The government must fear the people and not the opposite”

IBNA Special Report

It’s the government the one that should fear the people and not the opposite. This is suggested by the leader of the opposition in Albania, Lulzim Basha.

Mr. Basha made these comments in a meeting held today (photo) on insecurity and economic crisis. Present in this meeting were also representatives of the business in Albania, different non government organizations, heads of opposition parties, etc. This conference was organized by Independent Unions, the organizations of workers made redundant and representatives of the business and civil society.

The leader of the opposition and groups that participated in the meeting, shared their concern about what they considered to be a deepening of the economic crisis and “a significant drop in wellbeing, increase of prices and increasing insecurity in all aspects”.

Mr. Basha also launched a direct accusation against the majority: “Through the open war against democratic principles and good governance, through the refusal of democratic cohabitation, they’re introducing the oligarchic concept for the state which is being materialized as a cost for the economy of the country, it’s being materialized as a cost for the wellbeing of different classes of the Albanian society. Thus, it’s increasingly being materialized as a burden for the citizens”, said Basha.

The head of the opposition also analyzes the first months of the left wing government: “After 8 months of this government, we have an increase of the price of goods and different services which varies from 11 to 15%. The increase of taxes has turned into an increase in prices, the freezing of salaries and pensions has had an impact in the fall of purchasing power of employed persons, unemployed and pensioners. Another official statistic relates to the fact that the impoverished budget of the Albanian citizens, is being used more and more for basic consumption of food and less for the consumption of other goods and services. This impoverishment is also being affected by aggressive policies, fining offensives of police, taxation administration, Albanian Power Corporation and almost every other state agency on businesses and the citizens”, says Basha.

The president of Independent Unions, Gezim Kalaja expresses his concern for the “great insecurity in terms of work in the country”. He also criticized the “big social cost that have led to several acts of the government, as an unexpected decision to oust from the market thousands of taxi vans, thus affecting the economy and the life of over 20 thousand Albanian households”.

Data from INSTAT talk about a constant deterioration of the business climate, said the participants of this round table. There’s also an increasing risk in the banking system, public debt has increased by over 70%. There are still unpaid state debts. Employment has seen a fall in the fourth quarter of 2013 by 6 levels. In the fourth quarter of 2013, unemployment has also seen a drastic increase of 42% as opposed to the third quarter of 2013.

Mr. Kalaja also comments this situation: “We have thousands of people who have left the health sector, administration, the oil industry, police and everywhere else. For all these reasons, IMF steering committee presented in March of this year a fiscal package with 10 new taxes that relate to the memorandum. With all of this, the government imposes 21 kinds of taxes and this, in exchange of the loan that the government will receive from IMF”.

Kalaja says that the agreement reached with IMF foresees a number of stringent measures ,which will have an impact on the Albanian consumers and on people in need.

This agreement originates at the end of 2013, in the memorandum of financial policies between the government and IMF. In essence, it consists on the 330 million Euro loan.

But, the low interest loan has conditioned the government to take a number of stringent measures applied since the start of the year.

Kalaja points out the consequences of these measures: “Such measures relate to the increase by 50% of the tax on profit for big businesses, 6.6% of the price of fuels and have led to the fact that Albania has the biggest fuel debt in western Europe now. The increase of excise on beverages and tobacco, progressive tax on incomes didn’t produce the expected results and they led to 200 million ALL less in budget incomes as opposed to the two first months of 2013. With this situation, the government is increasing tax evasion, informality and corruption”.

Kalaja says that as a result of this situation, the Union will launch protests. He said that the motive of the protests relates to the economic situation, the passiveness of the government and the redundancy for many people who are central and local leaders of the union that he leads, the biggest one in the country.

The protest of the unions is backed by the opposition. “The opposition will support and will become part of these protests”, says Basha. “We must join around these priorities, which relate to children that are expecting to be fed, pensioners who can barely survive, security of food, security for life and the property, transparency, accountability and commitment not to allow further degradation of the situation”, said Basha.

The head of the opposition suggests that the joint action will make the government be held accountable on a daily basis and not once in 4 years. According to him, this action will return the power to the people.

“It’s not the people that must fear the government, but the opposite”, says Basha.

Business representatives: The state is putting pressure on us

Some businessmen launch accusations against the government, which according to them, it’s putting pressure on them for the payment of debts.

The head of the association of small and medium sized businesses, Albert Nasto says: “The most sensitive problem of the business sector in the country is the fall in consumption or the fall in turnover. The cause for this relates to the loss of trust, lack of liquidity and this comes as a result of the failure of the government to take the necessary steps to improve the situation”.

Nasto says that another factor which is deteriorating the economic situation in the country is law and order.

Laid off employees are irritated

Aleks Hajdari is the representative of police officers who have been laid off. He expresses his concern about massive redundancies: “There are 600 police officers who have been laid off. These lay offs have been made without any motivation or legal reference. The majority of those who have been made redundant had been trained by the most well known law enforcement organizations in the world”.

The head of the Association of Consumers, Altin Goxhaj says that there’s a lack of transparency by the institutions. “We have identified a difficulty in obtaining information that relate to the interests of the citizens”, says he.

Nertila Qafzezi has founded the association of employees laid off from the administration. She says that thousands of specialists have been made redundant without legal reasons

“The worst thing is that in spite of the constant requests and protests that we have held, the government has not heard our voice”, says she. /ibna/