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Data obtained by Balkan Insight shows Albania’s president, parliamentary speaker, several ministers and more than a third of parliament owe vehicle registration taxes.
|Albania's parliament during a plenary session|
According to Albania's road tax collection agency, President Bujar Nishani and speaker of parliament Jozefina Topalli both have unpaid taxes from 2010 for their personal vehicles.
Officials listed as debtors by the agency also include finance minister Ridvan Bode, transport minister Sokol Olldashi, health minister Vangjel Tavo and culture minister Aldo Bumci.
Apart from the four ministers, 45 other MPs from the 140-seat parliament owe vehicle registration taxes, including lawmakers from both the governing centre-right coalition and the Socialist opposition.
Albanian Officials and MPs Who Owe Vehicle Registration Taxes
Tag nr. Owner Region Date
The spokesperson for the president’s office, Irma Toptani, declined to comment on the allegations when contacted by Balkan Insight.
However parliamentary speaker Topalli told Balkan Insight through a spokesperson that the taxes on her vehicle have been settled, but were simply paid slightly late.
“The taxes have been paid, not on the due date but a month later, as it is a vehicle that her husband uses,” said her spokesperson Suela Ruseti.
However, the head of Albania's General Directorate of Services for Road Transportation, Arben Pinari, told Balkan Insight that the agency's list of debtors is constantly updated.
“Our register has been updated on a day-to-day basis over the course of this year,” Pinari said.
Although the agency itself cannot directly collect the unpaid taxes, Pinari underlined that every year it sends the list of debtors to the tax authorities to ensure they are collected.
“We are legally bound to send the list to the tax authorities, which should start the procedures for their collection, through orders of sequester or by sending the names to the state police,” he said.
According to Pinari, a part of these unpaid taxes relates to vehicles that might not exist any more but whose owners have failed to deregister them; however, he stressed that such cases represent a small portion of the debts.
The agency does not list only high officials as debtors but also state institutions such as the president’s office that have outstanding taxes owing for their vehicles.
Pinari explained that the problems with state institutions, which represent a small part of the list, arise not only because they do they not pay their bills, but also because they sometimes do not bother to deregister a vehicle that has been scrapped.
“Sometimes accountants in a state institution would simply forget to pay the bill or their funds would run out,” Pinari said. “There are institutions that have put the vehicles out of service, but have failed to deregister them, which costs only 600 lek (4.30 euro),” he said.
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