Stepping on the poor
Economic aid has been reduced by 2.5 billion ALL, or 25% comparing to the first five months of last year. The news was reporteed by Top-Channel, which connects this aid reduction with the miss collection of 6.6 billion ALL in taxes.
Zamir Alushi reports that from official data the government is cutting spending for economic aid, unemployment payments, disability pensions, compensation for vulnerable groups and any other spending with a social nature. According to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank orientations, justifying with abuses that might have occurred, instead of cleaning the lists and replacing them with person that deserve the aid according to the law, funds for this category have been shortened and will be reduced every month to come.
The ministry unveils that the difference comes as a result of the fact that in the 5 months January – May 2014 has included the payment of this item (economic aid) for the last three months of 2013 as well, which were paid as arrears in 2014. Even for other categories the ministry has excuses that can be followed on the official website.
But the budget for the poor in the first 5 months of this year is lower than the previous 3 years. Which means that they were given less money compared to 3 years ago, at a time where poverty has grown and prices as well.
18 economic journalists boycotted on Saturday the 25th July an informal meeting with minister Cani. Journalists’ posts on social media, show that the PR department of the ministry tried to hold the meeting until they realized the rejection in block, so at 10:00 AM they announced the cancellation of the meeting that was programmed at 10:45 AM.
Economic journalist Klodian Tomorri, expressed in superlatives that this is a “new world record”. It looks like journalists were irritated from the on going behavior of the ministry, and this unanimous act has “released” them slightly. It must be recognized that this is a rare case during the past 25 years.
As for the reasons, the journalists say that the Ministry of Finance isn’t a model of transparency. In fact, during the last months this institution marked a notable regress hiding or delaying the release of information that should be public. But still this wasn’t the real reason of the boycott. The real reason is another one related to the communication of this institution with the journalists.
Especially during the last months, as for the communication language and model with the journalists, and even with the public, the Ministry of Finance was transformed in an institution where power segments exercised pressure against the media and journalists.
It is not clear which concrete cases the journalists refer to, meanwhile, from the ministry there has been no official reaction.
New Custom Director
July found one of the biggest directorates under the Ministry of Finance, the Customs with a new director, awaited and in fact mentioned in the previos APPA June report. Again the position is trusted to a lady. Panvera Fagu (Behushi) is the new director of this institution. The leader for a while of the Supporting Services Sector at the Ministry of Interior Affairs (eventhough her curriculum vitae can’t be found online, not even on the Costum’s official website) pledged that her objectives are the rhythmic fulfillment of the plan and the image change of customs officials. On his side, Minister Cani said: “There is a non-execution from the customs income, where the responsibility shoud be brought to light, and everyone should be capable of fulfilling their duties”. We wish that in this finding, Minister Cani has considered its own responsibilities and the Crown Agent company’s as well, on the on the development of which there is no official position. We recall, that for this company, urban legends talk about a corruption history that became bigger due to lack of performance efficiency. Maybe this comes because of the negligence of the contract terms, where according to journalist Klodian Tomorri, 75% of the payment done by the gorvernment to the Crown company is fixed, not related to the performance or the company results. 10% is related to the number of controls that the company will do, 5% is for the training of the Albanian customs officials and only 10% is related to the incomes growth. From the 4.25 million Euro per year, only 425.000 Euro are related to the income performance. The remaining part of the money is taken by the company no matter what happens with the customs.
Lastly, from the Minister speech it is worth noting: “The government doesn’t intend to raise the taxes, but we will aim the full collection of incomes, in any way, fulfilling the duties and insisting that for anyone, that is not a part of this engagment, shall not have place at the Albanian customs service”. Let us hope that this socialist government will keep this promise, which fits its philosophy!
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