After rewarding all pensioners with 5,000 Lek on the eve of the local elections, the government promised them that they would receive another bonus in September. Faktoje’s verifications show that the promise of bonuses at the height of the election campaign was not kept. In September, pensions were indexed by 8.6%, but none of the 767,000 pensioners received the promised bonus of 5,000 ALL. Experts consider the propaganda promise during the campaign for the May 14 elections to be a violation of the promise but also a violation of the Electoral Code.
On the eve of the May 14 local elections, the government rewarded all pensioners with 5,000 Lek and promised them that another bonus of 5,000 Lek would be distributed to them in September.
In September, in addition to the indexation that will occur due to inflation, you will also receive the rest of the bonus in your pension. Another 5,000 additional lek comes again from the second part of the extraordinary taxation.’, Deputy Prime Minister Belinda Balluku promised during a conversation with the pensioners of Dibra on April 20, a few weeks before the May 14 local elections.
5 months later…
Faktoje’s verifications show that the government kept its promise to index pensions in September. With a decision dated September 28, the government indexed pensions to the extent of 8.6% for over 767,000 pensioners across the country. In other words, 1,500 ALL more for the average pension in the city and 890 ALL more for the average pension in the countryside, starting from October 1.
But the promised reward of 5 thousand lek was missing and the pensioners did not hesitate to remind the prime minister on his official Facebook profile.
‘What about the old 50,000 Lek from September that you promised, prime minister? We were hoping to get some medications, but it was a lie. What can we tell you, poor us!’, a pensioner wrote to Prime Minister Edi Rama on October 1 in the post announcing the indexation of pensions.
Zef Preçi, who heads the Albanian Center for Economic Research, says that the promise of reward during the electoral campaign constitutes a violation of the Electoral Code.
“The promise of this bonus before the elections is a serious violation of the Electoral Code and in general evidence of irresponsibility in the use of budget funds by the government. It is not that such support should not be given, but in any case they are also a contribution of these layers (pensioners as consumers in our case) and cannot be a “gift from the governing party” in exchange for votes of this social category.. The postponement is apparently not so much due to lack of financial resources (inflation and price increases have brought a “good” budget year even though impoverishing consumers), but also with the aim of government propaganda to sell it to the public as a special government support on the eve of the end-of-year holidays that are not far away…’
The reward at the end of the year
The promise that the bonus of 5,000 lek would be given in September created hope among pensioners that the government could reward them three times in one year with 5,000 lek each. Therefore, in order to dispel any doubts about the reward promised in the electoral campaign, we addressed a request for information to the Ministry of Finance in mid-September.
In the 2023 budget, a fund for the year-end bonus for retirees is provided. The measure and details will become known at the time of approval of the DCM.’, the Ministry of Finance and Economy answered Faktoje on October 10, after the appeal process to the Commissioner for the Right to Information.
Referring to the fiscal indicators of the 2023 budget, the government plans to distribute 3.5 billion ALL to pensioners in the form of bonuses for the end of the year holidays.
Table of fiscal indicators (Source: Ministry of Finance)
Based on the verification and the data collected by Faktoje, we decided to categorize the promise of the Deputy Prime Minister Belinda Balluku, regarding the remuneration of pensioners in the month of September, as an Unkept Promise.