With just a few days to go before the June 23 general elections, Prime Minister Sali Berisha has announced a wage increase for public sector workers, a pension hike for those drawing social security benefits as well as a new financial compensation package for Albanians who were politically persecuted under the communist regime.
In a special government meeting held late Thursday, the prime minister announced government had decided to increase public sector wages and pensions by 4 to 6 percent and award 45 million dollars in compensation to 1,040 former politically persecuted people under the 45-year communist regime which collapsed in the early 1990s.
“Some 840,000 Albanian households will benefit wage and pension increases twice higher than the inflation rate,” said Berisha, adding that the decision was not related to the electoral campaign as it had been a constant policy of the Democratic Party-led government during the past eight years.
The decision on the compensation of the former politically persecuted comes after a 31-day hunger strike staged in late 2012, when a former political prisoner died after deliberately setting himself on fire.
In order to enter into force, both government decisions need approval by the new parliament. which will come out of the June 23 elections.
Average monthly wages in the public sector currently stand at 51,700 lek (360 euros), more than double compared to the minimum wage of 21,000 lek (151 euros). Average pensions stand at 7,859 lek (55 euros) for village pensions and at 13,278 lek (92 euros) for state pensions, according to INSTAT data for 2011.
Albania’s inflation rate was at 2 percent in 2012 when the country registered a 1.6 percent GDP growth rate the lowest in the past 15 years and half of the average 3 percent from 2009 to 2011.