Prime Minister Edi Rama on vote of confidence in new government 

Prime Minister Edi Rama’s concluding remarks at the Parliament’s session to cast vote of confidence in new government:

 

I would very briefly like to say few words and, actually, I would like to address these words to ones now leaving the parliament’s hall. I don’t understand behind you deciding to leave the hall. It was just yesterday when you insisted for me to come here and not that I am here, you are leaving. OK!

I want to just highlight few facts that are exactly about a difference – not simply in terms of opinions as the opinions differ in every democracy, even the most developed ones where the contrasts are huge – but a difference in facts and figures. I wouldn’t probably take the floor if I were not to listen the claims that people are allegedly still living in tents, because need to buy their votes.

A total of 400 quake-affected families live currently in makeshift tents, but, from day one, these families decided to live in tents due to the distance from the urban centres and the proximity to their agricultural land, their livestock and the agricultural activity. A rental bonus has been provided since day one to all these 400 families currently living in tents, just like it is the case with over 12 000 other quake-affected families waiting to move into their new homes. So, the people living in tents receive a monthly rental bonus. It is their choice to live in tents, but, just like everyone else, with the rental bonus provided they can move into an apartment. This is an important fact.

Moreover, I would also like to pose a question to the head of the parliamentary group, who summed up the Democratic Party’s debate, supposedly talking about a handful of people and neglecting others. The question is very simple.

Is it true that a total of 1.2 billion dollars has been transferred from the state budget to the households under the new tax regime in the last eight years, after the tax system was altered?

So, around 1.2 billion dollars has been allocated to the family budget as a result of transiting to a fair progressive tax system from the previous flat-tax system and this whole amount would have been collected by the government under the tax regime applied by the previous DP government.

Is it true that Albania had 439,000 registered employees when we took office, whereas Albania counts today 683,000 registered workers?

Is it true that during the government of those who allege about an inflated public administration a total of 120.000 people were employed in the public administration compared to 86,000 today?

These are easily verifiable figures and they are not opinions. As far as opinions are concerned, Albania could be a progressing or a regressing country, but facts are facts.

Is it true that before we took office, the ones who comment on the citizens’ plight today used to reimburse only 38 million dollars for the medicines, while the medicine reimbursement today is estimated over 120 million dollars each year in state budget money provided to people who receive medicines?

Is it true that more than 280,000 schoolchildren receive their textbooks for free today, while none of them used to receive them for free when we took office? And they receive textbooks from Oxford, Cambridge and Pearson.

Is it true that over 600,000 people were excluded of any health treatment package and any health reimbursement scheme, because they were uninsured?

Is it true that all these 600,000 people have been now included in these schemes?

As far as the government program is concerned, it is normal that the opposition questions and opposes everything, but since Mr. Shehi is present and is respecting the word I am keeping, and it was his address that gave me an impetus to take the floor, this is very simple. Time will show whether we will build or not the ports and the airports. While drafting the electoral program, we have considered one fact; that we are not a party coming from the opposition and we are taking office for first time, if we are to win the elections, but we are a party governing the country and we can’t appear in front of the voters with nothing else, but a program which is also a work plan. And the electoral program has actually been translated into the government program, because the government program was also our electoral program and there is no electoral campaign pledge that has been omitted from the government program.

Mr. Shehi claims that even the quarter of the program has not been implemented yet. I think more than the quarter has been done, but I agree in the sense that no electoral program and no government program, in spite of the good will and desire, has been 100% implemented in no country around the world due to a number of objective reasons. One cannot deliver 100% on the government program if you are working on a number of government priorities, but the country is all of a sudden hit by a deadly virus and the government is forced to change its priorities, transfer and reallocate huge volumes of revenue to support a priority you had never imagined, let alone consider it. This was the case with the earthquake, the floods and so and so forth.

Our program due to be voted in today is a program designed to be 100% applicable, at least regarding its part concerning the major projects, the continued fight against the pandemic, and ultimate elimination of the earthquake consequences.

I heard the Democratic Party leader saying that all the goals, which are unachievable unless the opposition cooperates with the governing majority, then the DP would address to citizens. I don’t mind if the opposition meets the citizens and talk about the electoral reform, or the territorial reform, or about anything else the opposition wants to achieve, but at the end of the day, if they want a discussion to take place and if they really want these goals be really achievable in a concrete terrain, they should actually talk with us. We shouldn’t make a traditionally recurring mistake that the opposition has always done by seeking to find a last-minute solution, while we repeatedly invited them to sit and deliver on the electoral reform. They refused to do so and when they boycotted the talks, we invented extra chairs, because they were not in parliament. The electoral reform is finalized with the parliamentary opposition, but given that we certainly couldn’t deny that they were actually the voted opposition, we granted an extra chair at the ad-hoc committee, but they again refused to take advantage of that chair. And they asked then for another structure, but time had gone by. However, this is their choice and it is up to them.

For us it is not something of a taboo and we are ready to discuss about everything. Of course we have our own opinions. We are ready to discuss the territorial reform, but we hold a completely different position. We think that the number of municipalities should be reduced, not increased. You remember quite well that when the territorial and administrative reform was finalized, the late Bashkim Fino and the group tasked with the reform, their original proposal included a much smaller number of municipalities, but a compromise was reached. The fact is that there are obviously today very small entities, with limited human resources, with limited finances to bear all the burden. Transiting to a smaller number of municipalities, with a larger number of administrative units would be the right path for us to choose. They have a different attitude and there is no problem.

What we need to do is to sit and juxtapose our arguments. We could probably convince them, or they perhaps would convince us, but this takes place between the two sides. This cannot certainly be done by saying we don’t recognize you and therefore we would address to the citizens. They can still do that. It is not a problem at all.

This goes for the Electoral Reform too. They want the constitutional system changed. Let’s discuss it, but what matters most is that such a decision would require a cross-party dialogue and parliamentary dialogue process at all levels. We are fully committed, and the SP parliamentary group chair and the Secretary General, who has been tasked with the electoral reform processes are both ready at any moment to communicate with the Democratic Party as soon as it chooses an explorative dialogue process on the issues that need to be discussed. For us it is not a problem if the opposition wishes to pick one way or another to finalize this reform. The thing is that time is short, years go by and of course all of those who were here since the first term in office eight years ago it looks like it has happened just eight months ago. We need to focus on our job, focus on program delivery, focus on a very intensive interaction between the government and the commissions to ensure speed and efficiency, as well as constantly open to reach out to the opposition.

I am concluding by sincerely thanking all the lawmakers here in the hall, not only for attending this marathon debate until now, because it is not just a task, but also for patience and attitude, despite the fact that you more than me, but and I along with you, as long as I was, were forced to hear things that are ethically revolting. But we will continue to stay that way. When the opposition speaks, it bears responsibility for what it says. While our composure and attention will be guaranteed, while agreeing is something else.

Thank you very much and good luck in this challenge, our biggest challenge. It is one thing to run fast initially and another to run even faster when you have nevertheless reached a certain speed limit.  To further increase the speed limit we need a much greater effort. I believe we all together will find the energies to push each other so that this mandate is really a historic mandate for the Socialist Party and for our country and the fourth mandate would then be a natural outcome of the third. Thank you!