From: Alba Mborja
The Cortege of Hypocrites

Yesterday, around 3 o’clock in front of the Palace of Congresses, a curious manifestation was staged in front of a forest of cameras, attracting the attention of a few passersby.

Young, well-dressed boys and girls carrying uncommon black balloons and signs with the logo of the Ministry of Finance and the slogan “Ask for the tax receipt.” One of the “protesters” held a sign with the colorful logo of a supermarket.

Nearly one thousand people slowly followed a a small group at the front. In the middle our eye caught the milk-colored trench coat of the President of the Union of Albanian Chambers of Commerce, Ines Muçostepa.

When the head of the cortege arrived in front of the Palace of Congresses, they were met by the General Director of the Intesa San Paolo Bank, Silvio Pedrazzi.

While the speeches started trying to explain to the crowd why the informal economy damages society, a quick scan of the faces of the protesters showed that all of the when were public servants, employees of the big trading companies, or companies profiting from large government concessions or other favors. They had come to the event perhaps not of their own accord, in order to invigorate the government’s first public action against the informal economy.

In the light of this fact, the scene acquired a clear and somewhat grotesque meaning: a bunch of people paid from our taxes, directed by a person appointed by the government to represent “obligatorily” all Albanian businesses, was protesting to ensure their owners the necessary funds to pay their wages.

So, the employees of concessionary oligarchs, led by the representative of these oligarchs at the government, protested against small business owners, accusing them basically of not paying taxes, while in reality they were protesting to guarantee their own salaries.

It wasn’t very clear what the “part” of the director of the Intesa San Paolo Bank was in the whole scene. Perhaps he was there as President of the FIIA, the society of international concession holders, which like the oligarchs had an interest in keeping the government favors flowing.

Those who were missing from the most elegantly dressed workers’ demonstration in the last 100 years, are those who actually pay taxes even if they try to avoid doing so, the common people, working for less €300 per month. Those who need to pay bribes to receive “free” healthcare; those who have to pay school guards from their own pockets; those who fix their own energy to warm their children and end up in jail; those who have to endure insults and long queues in public offices; those who buy beans from local villagers because they cannot afford to go to the supermarket; those who go to work huddled together in buses owned by the oligarchs, while many of the “protesters” go their office in new SUVs which they park in parking spots reserved for ministers; those who go to vote only to discover that their choice has already been made for them.

Many of these people may own a small kiosk, a small shop, or a small bar somewhere in the outskirts, where they live in terror for the visit of the tax officials or in fear of the competition by big companies, by those who protest against informality and are awarded with large, tax-free state concessions.

The old-fashioned mindset of the political school of the dictatorship has often brought the government to send people to the streets to legitimate an already decided policy, but the most grotesque thing is that this time the parties in the manifestation are the government and oligarchs protesting against the people, a protest by the people who receive money against those whom they take it from.

This is truly co-governance with the ordinary people!