Economic growth from the perspective of Albania!

The specter of secular stagnation haunting Europe in the last years and the inability to achieve sustainable economic growth turns out to be one of the main concern in Albania. Hence, this year’s FMRS® edition in Tirana organized by the Austrian Economic Center in cooperation with Foundation for Economic Freedom based in Tirana, discussed these issues in a terrific venue followed by a huge media coverage.

Austrian Ambassador in Albania, H.E Thomas Schnol opened the conference saying that “unfortunately, Europe is suffering in the attempts to generate economic growth”.  “Albania need major improvements in two fields: reforms in the judiciary and try to depoliticize the administration” he claimed.

How to achieve economic growth and in particular, the growth possibilities and the current situation of Albanian economy, were the main issues discussed in the first panel.

Dr. Richard Zundritsch (Board Member of Hayek Institute and Austrian Economic Center) pointed to the fact of how the liberalization and free trade of goods and people contributed to the growth in Europe and the world, which was also, a reason that led to prosperity in Albania itself.  In addition, he provided the audience with the way how the Austrian School of Economics looks at the current economic slowdown that hampers Europe and in general, the world.

An inspirational and meaningful speech from the opposition leader in Albania, Mr. Lulzim Basha attracted the attention of the present audience. He concisely said “politicians need to sit down and find out the possible exits from the current crisis” and “not to be passive and act as everything is going well”. Once more stressing the fact that the adoption of a free market and competitiveness were the main factors that gave end to the isolation process. He expressed his concerns on the performance of the current government which “has encumbered the privatization process and diminish the independent initiative for entrepreneurship”. Unfortunately, the government spending has been increased up to 70% recently and in two years, the unemployment was increased for 7%.

By quoting John Kerry, alluding as “the march of oligarchy” summarized the situation of Albania and its economy. He concluded that “the future of Albanian economy relies on the economic freedom, decrease of the taxes and initiation of competitiveness” encouraging change and mobilization in the population.

On the other hand, Jose Cordeiro (Director, The Millennium Project and Venezuela) claimed that growth relies mostly on innovation and spoke about the technological advancements that will be reached in the near future. In regards to Albania, he declared that “there is an incredible future for Albania more than yesterday but will be more tomorrow”. Lastly, he addressed to the youngsters present in the audience “Leave the pessimism aside, you can change the world. Let’s start work on that!”

Entrepreneurship was the main theme of the discussion and panelists tried to provide answers to questions like how to set free the creativity of the youth and unleash the entrepreneurship spirit? Kate Sheehan from Free Market Institute in Texas suggested that the right formula to generate growth in Albania is “the combination of economic freedom and entrepreneurship”. Furthermore, she outlined that we need a better business environment, less barriers and security that will foster entrepreneurship and lead us to the economic growth.

In contrary to her, Mr. Arjan Kadare (CIT) criticized the fiscal policy of the country describing it as “harmful and inappropriate”. Mr. Adrian Civici (President, European University of Tirana) recalled the audience on the discussion of F. von Hayek while receiving the Nobel Prize in regard to the government intervention. In this sense, Hayek said “Yes to it but to remove all obstacles, barriers and regulations to open place for the free market principle operate”. Thus, allude to the need for minimal intervention. And the panel was closed by Mr. Henri Cili (Foundation for Economic Freedom) who spoke on libertinism in Albania and that “tradition and mentality” are crucial for the current situation in the country.

The moderators of both panels, Mr. Besart Kadia (Foundation for Economic Freedom) and Dr. Richard Zundritsch (Board Member of Hayek Institute and Austrian Economic Center) led the discussions and contributed to successful debates.