Prime Minister Edi Rama has for months stressed that the Socialist Party is the only one that “can build a state” in Albania. A few days ago, Rama declared during a rally in Dibra:
The PS is the only power that builds a state. Even Sali [Berisha] knows this!
During campaign meetings and interviews over the last few days, Rama also used his slogan to ask citizens for 71 mandates, which would be enough to form a government on his own without the need for coalitions:
We people to entrust with a full mandate. We aim to be independently at the steering wheel of the government. We are focused on taking our votes so we don’t have other people driving that slow down or make detours.
But what exactly does it mean when the Prime Minister says that he has built a state?
Battle against cannabis
“There has been a battle the last 44 months as never waged before,” Rama declared during an interview with Blendi Fevziu in Opinion, when asked about the spreading cultivation of cannabis in the country.
Nevertheless, every international report mentions Albania as the no. 1 exporter of cannabis in Europe.
In the period of April 1–12 alone, 17,690 kg cannabis was captured, while in a single weekend, 3 modern laboratories for cannabis production were discovered.
Former Minister of Interior Affairs Fatmir Xhafaj admitted publicly that parts of the State Police have assisted in the cannabization of the country, while it turns out that a widely cited report of former Minister of Interior Affairs Saimir Tahiri about the successes of his strategy has never existed.
During one of his weekly monologues last year, Prime Minister Rama emphasized that his government also improved the security in the country.
But while in 2014 there was a wave of bomb attacks with tritol throughout the country, the last weeks mafia-style executions have seen an increase as mafia groups seem to have become empowered.
For example, we can mention here the double murder in Vlora of the OShEE director and an entrepreneur, the murder in April of police commissary Artan Cuku in Tirana, or the seven mafia attacks which caused 9 victims in the first two months of 2016. None of these cases have been solved.
Concessions and PPPs
Finally, Prime Minister Rama has publicly defended the concessions and public–private partnerships handed out by his government, even though these are known to be neither effective constructions nor financially profitable tools in countries like Albania, which suffer from high corruption and an absence of financial transparency.
The most notorious case of PPPs are the four healthcare concessions of the Rama government. The first three only already represent a total value of more than €200 million for the next ten years. Several of these concessions are held through Dutch “postbox companies,” a well-known tax evasion construction.
Meanwhile, the IMF has declared that the government lacks transparency as regards these concessions and PPPs. This has not stopped the government from “building more state” and promising four more healthcare concessions.