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Opinion / Editorial

For a dignified social security policy

For a dignified social security policy

As I have done before, and this is how the entire Albanian opposition has acted, I welcome the agreement of February 6, 2024 with the Italian government, for recognizing the right to a pension and granting it to Albanian citizens who have contributed with their work to social security Italian, as well as vote for the Draft Law for the Ratification of this agreement. I wish that such an agreement is extended with Greece and other countries, where we have a large community of our immigrants. But in addition to this, I cannot help but draw attention and highlight some sharp problems that our social security policy in the country is going through today, as well as the efforts to provide Albanian citizens with a dignified pension in their country.

Pension reform: in place and in a dangerous place

The pension scheme in Albania was last reformed in January 2015, with an increase in the retirement age and a decrease in the benefit amount. This scheme has produced partial pensions in 48 percent, in almost half of the total number of pensioners, which today is over 710 thousand people. The current reform ends in 2025. According to EUROSTAT data, Albania is the fourth fastest aging country in Europe, after Malta, Italy and Spain. The number of pensioners is expected to increase further in the coming years, due to the age structure of the population, the high level of emigration of the working population, while the number of contributors to the state pension scheme is not expected to increase, even it may decrease, depending on the labor market and the level of emigration. Funding from the state budget to balance the overall social security budget still remains very high, reflecting an extremely low coverage level of the scheme, from contribution income. The pension scheme continues to have a very worrying annual deficit, forcing the State Budget to remove a good part of the taxes of the Albanian taxpayers, in order to finance and keep the Scheme afloat. The Government is pleased to see the reduction in the overall deficit of the Scheme in the last two years, due to the increase in the minimum wage. Meanwhile, what is more important, the pension amount has not increased! In 2022, the urban pensioner in Albania received an average benefit of 18,615 ALL in 2022, with a negligible increase of only 1%, compared to the average benefit in 2021, when it was 18,485 ALL, according to the official statistics of the Institute of Social Security, recently published. Average inflation was 6.7% for 2022, a period when average benefits for urban retirees grew by just 1%. Indeed, this year the pensions of rural areas had an increase of 7%, but the monthly income for all 91 thousand rural pensioners of Albania is only 10,888 ALL! In terms of the average pension, last year Kosovo also surpassed us. We are in the last place in the region for the amount of pension. The average pension here is 187,000 ALL per month, or only 187 euros. This income for a family with two pensioners as the head of the family represents extraordinary difficulties and close to misery! For this year and the coming years, the overall deficit of the pension scheme is only expected to worsen, as the minimum wage cannot be raised any more and tens of thousands of contributors to the scheme are expected to leave the country each year, emigrating. In this situation, the ten-year pension reform so far is at a standstill and is approaching a very dangerous point. The country has a primary need now for a radical reform in the field of pensions, without waiting for the end of 2025.

Politikë skandaloze pensionesh dhe sociale, me mungesën e përcaktimit zyrtar të Minimumit Jetik

Kam dy vite radhazi, që në Kuvend paraqes propozimin për amendimin e Ligjit Nr. 7703, datë 11.05.1993 “Për sigurimet shoqërore në Republikën e Shqipërisë”, të ndryshuar dhe Ligjeve të Buxhetit të Shtetit për vitet 2023 dhe 2024, në pjesën e Sigurimeve Shoqërore, duke shtuar përcaktimin zyrtar të Minimumit Jetik, si më poshtë: “Brenda gjashtëmujorit të parë të vitit në vijim, qeveria të përcaktojë Minimumin Jetik Zyrtar, në bazë të studimeve dhe anketave të deritanishme, të kryera nga Instituti i Statistikave. Duke filluar nga korriku i vitit në vijim, gjatë gjithë gjashtëmujorit të dytë dhe për buxhetet e viteve të tjera, pagesat për personat me aftësi të kufizuar dhe për familjet në skemën e asistencës sociale, të indeksohen (plotësohen), deri në respektimin e Minimumit Jetik Zyrtar”. Vakuumi normativ i përcaktimit të minimumit jetik zyrtar duhet të përfundojë sa më parë, në mënyrë që të vendoset një standard normativ, me efekte të drejtpërdrejta në politikat e sigurimeve shoqërore, ato sociale dhe ekonomike te vendit, si dhe t’u ofrohen garancitë qytetarëve, në drejtim të sigurimit të mjeteve të tyre të domosdoshme dhe dinjitoze të jetesës. Është e pafalshme për një vend si Shqipëria, i cili ka filluar bisedimet e anëtarësimit në Bashkimin Evropian, që të mos e përafrojë legjislacionin e vet në fushën e mbrojtjes ekonomike dhe sociale të qytetarëve, me standardin e Minimumit Jetik të Bashkimit Evropian, pasi secili Shtet Anëtar i BE-së e ka në ligj përcaktimin e Minimumit Jetik Zyrtar të vendit. Për ne, integrimi evropian, si paradigmë e vetmja dhe e patjetërsueshme zhvillimi, duhet të jetë një koncept i kristalizuar në politikën tonë dhe në korpusin tonë legjislativ. Minimumi Jetik Zyrtar duhet të përbëjë një shtyllë dhe pjesë thelbësore të zhvillimit ekonomik, social e shoqëror në tërësi. Ngre pyetjen: ku janë planet tona për garantimin qytetarëve tanë, në radhë parë pensionistëve tanë dhe atyre nën asistencë sociale, të një jetese dinjitoze, në respekt të parimeve të zhvillimit shoqëror të Bashkimit Evropian, me të cilin po bisedojmë që të anëtarësohemi? Përcaktimi i Minimumit Jetik Zyrtar është një detyrë kushtetuese! Nga analiza e legjislacionit shqiptar në tërësi, rezulton se minimumi jetik është një normë ligjore, e cila buron nga të drejtat kushtetuese të qytetarëve tanë. Vakumi ligjor i përcaktimit të Minimumit Jetik duhet të përfundojë sa më parë, në mënyrë që të vendoset një standard normativ, me efekte të drejtpërdrejta në politikat sociale dhe ekonomike, si dhe të sigurohen garancitë e qytetarëve në drejtim të sigurimit të mjeteve të tyre të jetesës. Mungesa e përkufizimit të minimumit jetik zyrtar në legjislacionin për mbrojtjen sociale, ndikon negativisht në hartimin e politikave të përshtatshme dhe të mjaftueshme për mbrojtjen sociale, si dhe në masën e duhur të pensioneve në fshat dhe qytet.

ISSH's dependence should continue to remain on the Ministry of Finance

Social security schemes are typical financial schemes - collection of income, investments and payments. They, during the exercise of the activity, realize social protection. Although in practice they are considered social protection schemes, in operation they are financial institutions that provide benefits, based only on participation. They do not provide social protection as needed such as social schemes that protect the poor, the disabled or other vulnerable groups. Pension schemes in particular and social security schemes are very important in the rule of law as they provide coverage for the entire population at different stages of the life cycle. Specifically, the Albanian pension scheme is in deficit and the entire deficit is covered by general taxation revenues, which are collected from the state budget, which is managed by the Ministry of Finance. Funding from the State Budget is not related to work and employment, but is pure financial transfers. The annual and mid-term expenditure ceilings of ISS are determined by the Ministry of Finance, through a permanent and intensive cooperation and discussion, emphasizing more the financial status of ISS. In addition to financing and budgeting, the entire payment architecture of ISSH is closely connected with the payment system of the Ministry of Finance and the State Treasury. Every day, ISSH is financed by the Ministry and the Treasury directly, as a dependent institution, avoiding delays in payments, but also performing a good management of the Treasury's cash. Transferring to another ministry would create difficulties in financing daily payments and fund reconciliations, which are very large. Dependence on the MoF enables better budgeting, safer and faster financing for ISSH, better addressing of non-contributory social policies, correct reporting to the government and Parliament, accurate and timely auditing of financial statements, as well as good cash flow management. In the wake of the dangerous experiment that was undertaken a few years ago by the Rama sect in power, with the creation of the superministry of Finance and Economy, an unnatural government creature, why did it bring together two ministries in open conflict of interest with each other, even the transition of the Social Insurance Institute under the Ministry of Economy is as dangerous as it is an adventure. We must maintain the current independence of the ISSH, as an operative and in terms of generating the institution's policies.