Under pressure from the IMF over falling fiscal revenues, Prime Minister Rama has pledged to engage 600 teams to fight the widespread evasion of the use of receipts for goods – although many see the threat as empty.
|Edi Rama speaking to the media about his campaign against fiscal evasion on 31 August 2015. Photo: Malton Dibra/LSA|
Albanians awoke on Tuesday to a new sense of alarm over fiscal bills. Coffee shops scrambled to use cash registers that were installed back in 2010 but rarely used since then.
Over the last month, several top officials including the Prime Minister Edi Rama have threatened taxpayers and consumers alike with heavy fines.
Owners of small enterprises like tailors and hairdressers have rushed to get registered in the National Business Registry, fearing reprisals.
“The war against informality [over payments] will be the focus of the next 300 days of the government with coordination between customs, tax directorate, labour inspectors and state police, as well as with the prosecutors service, consumers and businesses,” Rama said in a televised speech on Monday.
On Tuesday, Rama reinforced his initiative with another speech, adding that the campaign had been ducked for too long.
“For years, the necessary reforms had been avoided. Now it [Albania] has started to feel like a state. We are starting an operation against the chain of theft that in scientific language is called informality. The will and the attention of the government will be at a maximum. We are at war against informality,” Rama said.
Other officials warned that even consumers could be fined up to 1,000 leks (7.5 euros) if they leave a shop without taking a fiscal bill.
However, on Myslym Shyri street, one of the fanciest boulevards for shopping in the capital Tirana, things were running just as usual on Tuesday.
“They haven’t come here,” a shopkeeper told BIRN, referring to the inspectors. He continued selling fruits and vegetables to customers without bothering to print out any bills.
Albania signed a three-year agreement with the International Monetary Fund in 2013, securing cash in exchange for pledges to tighten fiscal discipline.
Following the agreement, the government increased taxes on profits, tobacco and fuel, hoping to increase revenues and so close the deficit.
This year, however, the higher taxation failed to result in an increase in revenues and the IMF mission ended discussions in June without an agreement, suspending its lending program.
While the government says it will end once forever the high rate of fiscal noncompliance in Albania, many doubt the campaign will bring anything new.
“There are several reasons to doubt whether it will work,” Ornela Liperi, editor-in-chief of Monitor, a weekly economic magazine published in Tirana, said.
“This campaign started well two years after this government came to power but after its experiments with tax hikes, it backfired,” she said.
“The government is also focusing on small businesses that are the main source of self-employment in the country but they don’t have the potential to increase budget revenue,“ she added.
„This [campaign] will only divert attention from the true sources of the tax evasion in the country, like traders of tobacco, big employers and big businesses. There is a widespread skepticism about how much the government is willing to do to punish big businesses that have strong political connections,” Liperi concluded.
Das hohe Wachstum, die politische Stabilität und die innere Sicherheit machen Albanien zu einem attraktiven Ziel für Investoren und die Lebensqualität Tiranas trägt zum guten Investitionsklima bei.
Hintergrundinformation zum Industriepark Durrës
der zuständige IHK Vertreter in Tirana: Nikolin Jaka, selbst wegen ordinären Betrug, Dokumenten Fälschung verhaftet, im Falle des Bechtel Autobahn Betruges, sagt heute klar, das die Behörden Geld erpressen von Investoren und Firmen Besitzern. Aber die Sitution war bestens bekannt ebenso vor 2005 bereits, wo die Schratzen der dümmsten Betrüger aus Deutschland halt ihre Geschäfte organisierten vor allem rund um den Lobby Verein DAW, finanziert wie immer vom Auswärtigen Amte, wie die Nonsens Universität der Nehemia Stiftung.*
Tirana, 27 August 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
Controls carried out by public administration in Albania, are often made in an abusive way and force many businesses to be involved in corrupt affairs by paying bribes to tax inspectors.
This is claimed by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Tirana, which calls upon all enterprises to say “no” to informality, stressing that this also puts an end to submission toward state corrupt structures.
Several businesses which were asked on the issue of informality and tax evasion and also on inspections by public administration, say that the reactions of these inspectors are absurd.
“Inspectors’ reactions during their inspections are: Angry when they do not find any legal violations and happy when they find legal violations”, entrepreneurs who have been subject to such inspections say.
These facts which have been denounced by businesses, are seen by the Chamber of Commerce as an appeal to put an end to informality.
Nikolin Jaka, head of the Tirana Chamber of Commerce, has offered a message for small and medium sized businesses. “I would like to encourage and inform every small or big entrepreneurs that informality and tax evasion are nothing else but their nightmare. To be informal, it’s a sacrifice and an adventure and at the same time, it’s also a submission to corrupt inspectors and systems”.
Jaka says that the Chamber of Commerce will back any legal reform taken by the Albanian government or any incentive of the opposition, which will serve for the formalization of economy and the fight without compromise of informality and tax evasion.
“Considering informality and tax evasion as the worst thing for the economy and private enterprise, we call on every entrepreneur who works in the Republic of Albania, to react in the fight against informality and tax evasion. Let us denounce every human phenomenon and procedure that enables the deformation of this important reform”.
A campaign has been recently launched in order to inform the public about the fight against informality, which is expected to start in September.
The government is expecting to collect 330 million euros during this campaign which is expected to last until the end of the year. /ibna/