In July 2021, the Mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj, stated that financial assistance had doubled. Faktoje fact-checked this statement and it turns out that financial assistance has indeed doubled, but the last decision of the Council of Ministers found on the website of Social Services is effective only for six months of the year, thus until June 30, 2021, a period that also coincides with the election campaign. This decision of the Council of Ministers is justified with the COVID-19 situation and it is not a permanent increase in financial assistance as stated by the mayor of Tirana.
In July 2021, mayor Erion Veliaj stated on a TV interview:
“Nowadays not only has financial assistance doubled, but it goes to a widowed woman who is raising a child with special needs”.
Prime Minister Rama also vowed on November 16, 2020, during his speech in Parliament to double financial assistance for all family members who are registered on the financial assistance scheme, so they can face the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will double financial assistance during this period when we all have to face the pandemic and not just for the affected in this case, but in function of all families registered in the financial assistance scheme”, – stated Rama from the lectern of Parliament.
Referring to these statements, Faktoje sent a request for information to the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, requiring information on the amount of financial assistance for each family according to each month during the years 2019/2021. What is the total allocated fund for financial assistance for each month in 2019/2021 and has financial assistance doubled during 2020?
Request for information to the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, July 28, 2021
After the expiration of the deadlines provided by the law, “On the right to information”, Faktoje complained about the non-provision of information by the Ministry of Health to the Coordinator on the right to information of the Commissioner’s Office.
Complaint filed with the Right to Information Commissioner
We are still waiting on a reply by this institution.
Later on Faktoje searched on the official website of INSTAT for unemployment payments and financial assistance, where it turns out that the average monthly financial assistance for a family during the years 2020, 2021 has been the following:
Table generated by Faktoje with data from INSTAT
As previously mentioned, based on INSTAT, the average financial assistance per household has increased to 8,552 ALL per month in the first quarter of 2021 from the average of 5,161 ALL per month during 2020. This increase is of 3,391 ALL or 66% (the increase should be 100% according to the promise) compared to the average payment during 2020.
Faktoje researched the Official Gazette, where it turned out that DCM No. 85, dated 10.02.2021, doubling financial assistance has been approved and has been effective since January 1, 2021. According to the Decision of the Council of Ministers on the Social Services website the decision is effective for only six months until June 30, 2021 and this is justified with the COVID-19 situation and it is not a permanent increase in financial assistance. This period coincides with the election campaign.
Mr. Veliaj’s statement was made in July 2021, a time when the effects of the DCM that doubled financial aid had ended, thus his statement is not true.
Screenshot of the official website of Social Services
Faktoje also searched the official website of Social Services in the section that lists all the DCMs after the one in February that determined that financial assistance would double in only six months.
Financial aid during the pandemic
Faktoje has also analyzed the data published by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection on financial aid. A summary of years 2020 and 2019 is presented below.
The funds spent for financial assistance during 2019 amount to 4,277,240,000 ALL, while realization is in the amount of 4,250,385,000 ALL or 99.3%, of the funds that cover the payments for 62,523 families and individuals as evaluated according to the decisions taken by the Regional Directorates of SSS in the electronic register.
Funds for people with disabilities, allocated to be used during 2019, amount to 15,850,000,000 ALL, the funds have been used during the period January-December 2019 amount to 15,884,500,000 ALL, while the realization is in the amount of 15,860,125,000 ALL or 99.2% of these funds covering the payments for 165,233 persons, guardians and working invalids.
Budgeting for Financial Assistance during 2020 (including the implementation of DCM no. 254, dated 27.03.2020 for doubling the financial assistance for the period April-June and Decision no. 13, dated 22.4.2020 for the payment of 16,000 ALL for people excluded from the Financial Assistance scheme during the period July 2019-March 2020, is 5,453,863 (corrected) thousand ALL, while the annual realization for 2020 is at the amount of 5,434,644 thousand ALL. These funds cover the payments of 66,650 families and individuals as evaluated according to the decisions taken by the Regional Directorates of the SSS in the electronic system of ES.
Funds for people with disabilities, allocated to be used during 2020 amount to 18,621,593 thousand ALL, while the annual realization is 18,465,130 thousand ALL for 72,711 persons with disabilities, 19,402 caregivers and 74,391 working invalids.
What is observable is that the economic assistance fund for 2020 has been 28% higher, including the doubling of financial assistance during the pandemic for the months April-June 2021.
Below you will find the fund for financial assistance divided according to the three quarters of 2020 and 2019, according to the Ministry of Health and Social Protection.
According to DCM No. 254, dated 27.3.2020, in the face of the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, the government decided “Payment of financial assistance to beneficiaries, according to decision no. 597, dated 4.9.2019, of the Council of Ministers,” For the determination of the procedures, the documentation and the monthly measure of the benefit of financial assistance and the use of the additional fund over the conditional fund for the financial assistance”, that result beneficiaries of financial assistance or have applied for it before March 10, will be double of the amount premeditated according to the decision above”.
According to the same DCM this doubling is effective starting April 1, 2020 until the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, but not more than 3 (three) months.