From: Alice Taylor
Albanian Government amongst Worst in Region for Supporting Citizens amid War and COVID-19

The Albanian government provided the second-lowest amount of COVID-19 support to the needy in the region, according to the World Bank.

In a report looking at the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and the post-war price crisis from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it found that in relation to the percentage of the GDP, Albania was second to last, behind Montenegro.

The Albanian state included support of just 0.3% of the GDP to help citizens in the struggle against the effect of the pandemic and rising inflation. North Macedonia, however, had the most extensive crisis package, equivalent to 3.6%. Of this, 1.5% was exemption from taxes, 0.3% was social benefits, and 1.9% were direct subsidies.

Serbia allocated 2% with 15 social payments at 1% tax exemptions. Kosovo offered more than double Albania with 0.7% with 0.3% subsidies and 0.4% social transfers.

Montenegro, however, offered even less with just 0.2%, comprised of 0.1% of social transfers and 0.1% subsidies. Bosnia offered 0.6% of the GDP to help citizens.

Even in terms of fiscal support following the pandemic, Albania only managed to provide support for 1% of the GDP. The average in developing countries is 3.1%, while in the EU, it is double at 6.2%.

This is even though, between January-April 2022, state coffers increased in value by around EUR 300 million compared to last year as a result of taxes rising due to higher prices.

Even the Bank of Albania has caused for more investment in helping society. Governor Gent Sejko said it is necessary to support the vulnerable while scaling back on non-priority expenditures.

He called for fiscal policies to support those individuals and businesses most impacted by inflation, adding it should be financed by additional income from price creases.

“By doing so, the intervention will be effective but will not harm public debt indicators,” he said.