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News 15 Feb 17

Albanian PM Accused of Breaking Jobs Promise

Prime Minister Edi Rama’s government has failed to keep the promise made during his 2013 election campaign to develop a business climate that would create 300,000 jobs, economists said.

Fatjona Mejdini
BIRN
Tirana
PM Edi Rama meets Albanian workers. Photo: Edi Rama/Facebook

Ahead of parliamentary elections in June, Prime Minister Edi Rama has been taking to Facebook to say he will help people to find jobs, but he hasn’t delivered on his employment promise from the previous polls four years ago, economic experts told BIRN.

Rama encountered criticism after he posted his personal email address in a Facebook exchange on Monday with a woman who was complaining that her children went to good schools abroad but were not able to find a job in Albania.

"We can help them immediately if they want to be employed in the private sector," Rama told the woman, then asked her to contact him via his personal email address.

According to Zef Preci, a former economy minister and head of Albanian Centre for Economic Research, official data shows that employment has increased since Rama took power, but his 2013 election promise of creating 300,000 new jobs is still far from being met.

Quoting the Albanian Institute of Statistics, INSTAT, Preci said that there were 91,501 more people registered as employed in 2016 than in 2013, when Rama’s Socialist government took over power from the previous Democratic Party government led by Sali Berisha.

“There is a rise of approximately eight per cent if you compare the first quarter of 2013 [when Berisha left power] with the third quarter of 2016," he said.

Preci believes that increase in employment data was mainly a result of government action against the informal economy which caused more employees to become registered and pay social security contributions.

"The [increased] number of employees during the last years also includes those who had a job but were not registered in the system," he said.

Preci also noted that a significant indicator of the government’s failure to improve the business climate was the number of businesses which have been declared inactive over the past year.

"The data from the General Taxation Directory shows that actually there are 106,439 businesses that have passive status, while in August 2016 this number was 95,089. It means that in the course of a few months, the number of passive businesses rose by 10,000 more," he said.

Altin Hoti, an economics expert and the deputy rector of the Mediterranean University of Albania told BIRN that by communicating via Facebook, Rama wants to show that he cares about the plight of the younger generation.

"We are in a time where Facebook has been turned into an important communication tool especially for youngsters, who also have a higher rate of unemployment, which according to the Institute of Statistics was 33 per cent in 2015," Hoti said.

Hoti said he that to improve the employment figures, the government should focus on improving the business climate and attracting foreign investment in order to ensure sustainable economic growth in the long term.

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