In the first month of 2015 Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth (MSWY) was marked with a scandal, which was extinguished in silence with the end of January and the discussion was not opened during the whole January by none of the Government members. Nor Mr. Veliaj neither the Prime Minister Rama, whose signature “was rejected” publicly by MSWY did not react for the issue in question, Prime Minister continued favoring this Ministry and indirectly accepting their open violation of legislation. Nor respective legal institutions did not break the silence of majority during 5 weeks after the incident of legal violation of MSWY. This incident is still under question mark and we are hoping that will be reopened in the following months and the law will take place as it would happen for any other citizen of Albania!
The main events of February for MSWY started with the natural disaster that happened in South of Albania, which made all the citizens of the country to start a solidarity campaign with this region. To continue with traveling of the Minister to New York on 4th of February, toward his commitment of youth employment, participating in 2 days workshops of Youth Forum 2016 organized by Social and Economic Council of United Nations Organization. Employment, as one most fragile issues of this Government and MSWY, continued with many events and news that were main titles of many newspapers and online portals during the whole month. Other important events of the month were continuation of the delivery process of indemnification of former political prisoners and opening of state security files. In 20th of February Minister Veliaj did not forget to remind landmark event of 1991, crash of the statue of the dictator Enver Hoxha, by fulfilling the day with a conversation with former political persecuted people of Shkodra, where he reopened the issue of opening files promising that this process will be placed soon and explaining that the plan is designed according to a proven German model. But during February there were no developments for this issue!
During this month Albania became part of the EU program “Europe for citizens”. Also during this month Albania once more was in the highlight from the whole world for religious tolerance and brotherhood and peace that prevails in our country, becoming host of the 28th International Peace meeting. (This important activity comes in memorial of the 20th anniversary of the end of Last War in the Balkans and is organizing by Sant’Egidio Community , in cooperation with Episcopal Conference of Albania, Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania and the Albanian government).
“Surprise” from nature! Did government achieve to protect citizens from natural disaster?
In the first day of February in south of Albania massive flood have made many material damages, thousands of citizen have been evacuated, from Gjirkaster to Fier. MSWY and Prime Ministry started a plan for solidarity with this zones and coordinated some aids to help them. Mr Veliaj named this initiative of government in cooperation with businesses and religious communities; “Albanian Solidarity”. Department of Social Services in Tirana, Fier and Vlora from 7th of February 2015 became hosts of collection of contributions of businesses and individuals who had the good will to help. Government enabled to set in motion the mechanism of the European Union to secure funding from the European Commission for support in areas flooded by the disaster. In these difficult days for south of Albania, neighboring country Kosovo expressed high support for Albania, President Business Alliance of Kosovo, Agim Shahin said they were sending about 15 trucks with 300 tons of various goods valued at 200 thousand euros to help the flooded areas. Presevo also joined for help, the youth of this country gathered 10 thousand euros worth of goods to residents affected by the disaster. Part of the ones that joined the solidarity plan of Albania were Turkey, Israel, “Qatar City” foundation, Canadian government and “BANKERS” petroleum etc.
After two weeks Minster said that emergency state has passed and the compensation is going to continue. Mr. Veliaj and Prime Minster Mr. Rama visited the zones affected by the disaster sometimes during the whole month. They were in solidarity with the victims of natural disaster first phase of aid was helping for survival, the second phase of relief began with electrical equipment replacements and the third phase will be the repair of embankments and cleaning of drainage, the all these being supported continuously by businesses that voluntarily helped the flooded areas. Minister Mr. Veliaj in parliamentary session of Assembly stated that the actual government is helping the flooded areas in a transparent manner, stating that in the second phase of aid have enabled each affected household to receive 100 kg of food. Minister Z.Veliaj as was expressing for this state of misery and hard time that this part of Albania is experiencing did not spared criticism and expressions of humility towards the opposition, which had criticized the philosophy of coordination and distribution of aid in these areas.
Employment increasing or decreasing? MSWY and INSTAT reports
One of the priorities in the program of MSWY and one of the main promises of Socialist Party promoted during their electoral campaign in 2013, is employment of youth and increase in the legal employment. Promises for 300 thousand new job places based on the Ministry’s declarations will be realized and they are continuously working on it, with opening of offices for labor forces in every city and support is given to businesses for opening op new job places.
During February the main events belonging to employment program of MSWY were continuation of operations with Employment Promotion Fund, supporting businesses for increasing employment with the help of 4.5 million fund which will be used to pay 4 salaries of newly employed people in respective businesses and 12 month social security, and the opening of the 10th Office for labor force in Lac. Mr. Veliaj in the inauguration of the office put the highlighted in the fact that the promise of opening of 300 thousand new work places during their 4 year mandate will be realized, as till last November 92521 more employees were declared in the social insurance book. Also Prime Minster was present in the inauguration of this office who mentioned that employment is challenge for this government and Labor Offices are important to make reality our program, this offices are planned to be opened in all north cities more than 61 civic centers.
Quantitative report of INSTAT have published the reports for last year and employment is not increased as Minster supported by Prime Minster are publicly declaring. Report published includes employment level of population according to segmentation based on age, it can be observed a decrease in the first quarter of 2014 and a quite increase in the second quarter and the third quarter. In the third quarter of 2013, when actual government won the electorate, 42.9% of the whole population over 15 years old were employed, one year after in 2014 the percentage is 45.8%. But this cannot be considered as achievement of the government program for employment as this can be consequence of economic development of Albania during this period.
Another discussed declaration was that of General Director of Taxation, Mrs. Briseida Sehaj giving numbers of increased income of social insurances and increased average income in Albania. Reporting that: “Increase in number of employees is around 12%, but revenue growth is 5.9 billion more social security contributions. Now social security contributions are paid for all the salary and growth has come from the formalization of the market. There are about 10 thousand subjects registered for 2014 which are small businesses and private individuals who are registered and have registered others also. It was part of the salary which was left in misery and no one dealt with the declarations of salaries of Albanian workers where as director and as a cleaning lady took 22 thousand ALL. We have changed the salaries. The average salary was somewhat reluctantly to 23 thousand ALL for one year we have risen to 26 thousand ALL. I urge all people to give encouragement to tax administration with little capabilities that is has to make the formalization of the market because Albania still continues to have informal labor market”. The last report of Institute of Social Security also supports number of Mrs. Shehaj. In the report can be clearly observed increase in income from social security, if the incomes from Social Security have increased compared to the increase of percentage of employment during the same period it can be concluded that the government is reforming employment system by turning it into legal employment system, more than is opening new work places. The largest identified handicap of MSWY is the lack of a real report expressing all the figures of achievement of objectives and promises after 1 and a half year that this governing body have taken the state power, this fact can be seen as lack of transparency. A report of efficiency would be the answer for many issues that have remained pending related to employment and reforms system of employment in Albania.
Compensation of former political prisoners
Integral part of the program of this Ministry is protection of rights and interests of former political prisoners. Ministry in the program published during their electoral campaign of Socialists party was committed to end 20 years of hypocrisy and abuse of politically persecuted people. New schema of MSWY includes expanding the group who will benefit from compensation and implementation of the progressive rewards, depending on actual age and years of persecution. During the summer of 2014 former politically persecuted people expressed their dissatisfaction for new government, which had promised support and compensation for them, with protests and hunger strikes. After more than 17 months of governing of Socialists Party, former politically persecuted people still have reason for protest, on 12 of February they protested in front of parliament claiming that they have not received any instalments of their compensation from the government.
Another polemic this month occurred between the former political persecuted Mr. Edmond Vokshi and the Institute for the Integration of the Persecuted, the lifting of the total compensation of 300.00 ALL. MSWY has made changes under the laws in force since the case was handled by DCM. 1699, dated 29/12/08, no. Ordinal 466 and no. 2784 files dated 06.03.2008 and the compensation value reached 1,194,000 ALL, because mistakenly a house was calculated in but it was a gift from CAFOD for the persecuted. In the past case of Mr. Vokshi was dealt with laws in force and has taken securities 700,000 ALL and 200,000 ALL cash payments. MSWY on the other hand states that all the instalments of indemnifications are paid in compliance with the laws that are actually in force, dismissing the charges of protesters, they also states that during February they have continued delivering of the forth instalments to former politically persecuted and in March they will begin delivering the fifth instalments.