Prime Minister Edi Rama defended the Albanian those who are widely considered as oligarchs, saying they are the biggest tax contributors, whose works are designed “to help and support citizens.” Rama insisted that they do not deserve to be called “oligarchs”, and that the ruling Socialist Party supporters should not believe the “continuously repeated lies” about them.
Speaking to a large audience of supporters at the ArtTurbina Theater, where he is presenting his government’s dubious anti-corruption legislation, Rama said:
“There are no oligarchs in the US, they are the richest people in the world. Look at the taxes oligarchs have paid to the state budget in the recent years. What influence do these people have on us? How come these people, considered to be holding the real power in Albania, are the most taxed ones, and those who pay the most taxes to the state budget? Look at how much they have paid in the last 8 years.”
Rama stated that today’s richest businessmen in Albania, who are “unjustly called oligarchs”, didn’t come with his government. He challenged everyone to show him an oligarch who paid no taxes under his rule.
“Oligarchs are those who come with the political power, but look at the relationship these people, who are now unjustly called ‘oligarchs’, have with the government.”
The prime minister called on government employees and Socialist Party supporters not to believe the lies on oligarchs and public-private partnerships (PPPs):
“There is so much talk about PPPs. So much so that even some of us have been infected by them, ‘cos the repetition of lies does always bear the probability to inflect the subject. PPPs are schemes to help, support and make it easy for citizens. Who profits from the [health] Check-up PPP? About half a million people who have it for free.”
Rama explained that the government did not hand out money to oligarchs from a “big bag”. Instead, he added, they invest their money in public works and get paid later by the government. “‘Free’ does not mean it comes for free. It means that the citizen gets it for free,” he concluded.
The unsolicited proposals and public-private partnerships in Albania have been criticized by all major international organizations, including the European Commission, World Bank, IMF, EBRD, EU Court of Auditors, European Network on Debt and Development, as well as independent domestic watchdogs.