While the Albanian government has received over €1,1 billion in loans and grants since the beginning of 2020, it only gave €110 million in government aid to citizens and businesses struggling to withstand the coronavirus crisis.
In January, the government borrowed from the Albanian people by selling €115 million in treasury bonds.
In April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loaned the government €174 million intended to increase the state budget’s ability to face the coronavirus pandemic.
In June, the government took out a €650 million loan via eurobond.
The government has also received aid in kind, which included medical equipment, medicine, and coronavirus testing material. These were donated by the EU, the US, Switzerland, Sweden, and a number of other countries, and are valued at dozens of millions of euros.
It must be noted that all test kits used by the government were donated by the World Health Organization (WHO), whereas the chemical reagents and verification material has been donated by the EU.
In total, the aid and loans the government received since the start of 2020 – just for handling the coronavirus pandemic and not including earthquake reconstruction funds – amount to no less than €1,1 billion, or about a quarter of Albania’s annual state budget.
At the same time, since March when the country went into lockdown, the Albanian government has distributed only €110 million to help citizens and businesses survive the crisis.
About 65,000 people, entrepreneurs or employed by small businesses, whose work was suspended due to the preventative restrictions put in place by the government, received three payments of about €200 each in March, April, and May. The government spent a total of €39 million on them.
Another 166,000 people who lost their jobs, mainly employees of large businesses, only received a single payment of about €320 in aid for the entire period of March, April, May, and June. The government spent a total of €53 million on them.
The government additionally spent about €15 million in unemployment benefits and aid for families in need.
In total, the government spent about €110 million for all the expenses relating to the coronavirus crisis.
This constitutes only 10% of the loans and aid the government received to handle this crisis.
Meanwhile, the need for government financial relief is high, be it for thousands of citizens who have lost all sources of income, be it for businesses who need liquidity and investment to recover.
This seems to be the result of a short-sighted policy adopted by the government, who is being miserly at a time when it must spend liberally, as the only way to get the Albanian economy to recover and preserve Albanians’ well-being.