Speech of Prime Minister Edi Rama at the "Golden Bee 2016" awards ceremony:
I will try to be very synthetic, although usually I find this difficult also because you have been invited on this evening to attend the fourth edition of the Golden Bee, along with the sponsors of this dinner, so I do not want to give the impression that the government talks, and talks, and talks, and you remain unfed.
There are a few things I want to list.
First, as a result of the reforms undertaken in view of the enterprise, Albania reached this year its best historic position in the "Doing Business" global report, since its first publication in 2003. We were ranked 58th this year, among 190 compared economies, and we have improved by 32 positions. Meanwhile, in the position of facilitating the payment of taxes, we have improved by 45 positions.
This is not our ultimate goal. Our aim to improve still by many more positions. We are convinced that it is possible. We know how to go towards improving other positions. We will definitely succeed! 183 thousand more state employees in non-agricultural sector are registered today in the state registers, compared to 2013.
This is a figure, not an opinion. I believe that this is a figure that applies to all those who want to hear and understand that if unemployment in Albania is still to this day a major wound, today Albania is no longer unemployed. Albania has more employment compared to less than 3 years ago.
Just as I would like to repeat also it in front of you, many of you are witnesses to the fact that if we started knocking door to door in all the enterprises that are on both sides of the Tirana-Durres highway, we wouldn’t find a single enterprise that doesn’t have a vacancy. On the contrary, there are one, two, and up to 50-60 vacancies.
This is a result of the need of enterprises for skilled labour, and also a result of a long period during which no qualified training was provided.
Tonight, I want to thank all those of you who are here or who are not here, who have joined our effort to thoroughly reform vocational education, and to transform it from an abandoned refugium peccatorum that provided a shelter for the terminal victims of a totally ruined educational system without any standard, into a generator of employment in Albania.
We started with 3 thousand students in vocational education, and today they are 27 thousand, which means that in a not too distant future, there will be definitely many more young men and women who, thanks to vocational education, will find an employment in your enterprises where those who master a trade are welcomed with open arms.
In addition, there are today 18 thousand new businesses registered for this year in the state registers. Even if one single person is employed in each of these 18 thousand new businesses, it make 18 thousand employees. But it is not about one person, it is about many more people.
The most important thing is that, contrary to what some people keep saying that there are no foreign investments in Albania, in addition to the figure brought here by the minister, which is an official figure, there’s also the fact that we’ve had an increase by 13.2 percent of the number of foreign companies, or joint ventures.
I believe that it is worth underlining that this year has given us a more meaningful message for the great tourist potential of Albania, not just as something that we know, but as something which we have started to put in the path of a sustainable development.
In fact, according to the Bank of Albania, an institution the figures of which I have never heard until now being disputed, the economy of Albania earned more than half a billion Euros from tourism only in the third quarter of 2016.
Even in this case, just as with regard to what I mentioned earlier, this is not enough. On the contrary! This is a reason not to be pleased, but to be even more unpleased with ourselves because the potential is extraordinary.
We believe very much that the adoption of the National General Plan, where the integrated Development Plan of the Coast is also included, together with the Law on Strategic Investments and the specific legislation on Tourism Development, put us in the conditions where we can give a new impetus to industry with significant increase not only of the total income but also of jobs.
We should also underline economic growth. Certainly, 3.3, or 3.5 per cent – we’ll see how 2016 is going to end - is not a sufficient growth for an economy like ours, given that what we want for middle-class or poor households is this growth to be tangible and truly present in their everyday life.
But only those who don’t want to see and to hear, and therefore don’t want to understand, cannot accept that 3.3 or 3.5 percent is much more than 0 point something where our economy was a little more than 3 years ago. Just as, the further projection of sustainable growth is clearly encouraging in view of the objective I mentioned.
We have every reason to feel proud of this important milestone in our economy, not only in view of its growth, but also in view of the transformation of the internal economic model, from a model that relied on remittances and on the construction boom, as the two largest sources of growth, in a model that relies on manufacturing investments and exports. But, on the other hand, we are absolutely convinced that we have every reason to be even unhappier now than in the first moments, when we really managed to avoid falling into an abyss because of accumulated and hidden debts, and because of the financial collapse of energy which we risked due to the deep crisis of the distribution company.
But, in relation to the future, this is not enough for us. This is why we are prepared to inject into the economy an amount of 1 billion Euros in the next 3 years, an amount that, according to our projections, will be able to promote economic growth beyond the growth envisaged up to 6 plus percent, depending on our executive capacity of this very ambitious program of investments in road infrastructure, investments in educational infrastructure, investments in health infrastructure, in cooperation with the enterprise.
I would like to urge everyone to think and to envisage the opportunity to be involved in this massive investment program, where our goal is to have from the banks as much liquidity as possible, and make it available to the economy through this transformative infrastructure program.
Of course we have no intention to withdraw from our vision and model of Public Private Partnership. I want to say that, despite all efforts to demonize the Public Private Partnerships we have built, they are actually the most meaningful indicator of what the government can do, together with you, in order to increase the core quality of public services, and in view of economic growth by adding this other component I just mentioned.
What is more important, this whole program, just as the increase of salaries and pensions, which is the largest increase within a year in the last 25 years, occurred without increasing the debt, but rather, by keeping the downward and normalizing trend of public debt. There was an increase of wages and pensions in the past, but it has always been an increase of salaries and pensions for parents or grandparents, by taking today their children’s money for the future, thereby increasing public debt.
The $ 100 million increase in wages and pensions for next year has zero impact on public debt. On the contrary, in parallel with the increase of salaries and pensions, there will be a reduction of public debt.
Just as, this aggressive program of investments, which we will announce officially and in detail to you, both to the enterprise and to the banks in the early days of January, because we want it to be as much clear and understandable for everybody, - we are convinced that it will give us the opportunity to have in Albania in the span of the next 4 years such an economic growth that it will really be a genuine "boom", with a minimum economic growth that is twice the envisaged growth.
Finally, I want to express once again my deepest gratitude for everything you have done. You know that we have transformed deeply, although not completely, the way how the tax and customs administration works, and we follow your turnover through the electronic brain we have installed there, therefore when we have direct contact, despite the old habit of saying “so so, it used to be better last year”, I’ve noticed with pleasure that nobody can deny that there has been a significant increase of the turnover, both those whose turnover appears clearly in the screen of the Taxes’ electronic brain, and those who are not fully aware of the fact that the fight against informality, not only is not over, but it has just started.
Therefore, I take this opportunity to give you this message: do the revaluation, as we requested and as we have ratified in the new package of the Ministry of Finance, to escape even more the repressive nature of the relationship between fiscal administration and business, to create even more a sense of partnership and a clear division of shared duties, in order not to have victims of the heavy burden of this war against informality.
Which means that those Chinese boxes one after another to distribute the turnover, must be collected and packaged because, fortunately, public finances are all scanned. Meanwhile, we expect from you to do the revaluation yourself, package them, leave them behind and give the state what you owe to it. Therefore, with deep gratitude for this dinner, I assure you that this dinner is not enough for us to close our eyes in front of your obligations. I know that we all have here your understanding.