Panel debates energy crisis, price hikes, protests and where we go from here

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Today’s protest over the anticipated price hikes, which our authorities have blamed on the global energy crisis, was the main topic of discussion tackled by the panel of experts invited on Euronews Albania’s ‘Now’ hosted by Erla Mehilli.

Secretary-General at the Association of Producers, Arben Shkodra, started the conversation by affirming that citizens should continue to protest, in order to demand transparency in the case of abuse with the current price hikes.

Shkodra noted that today’s protest, taking place in front of the prime minister’s office, came as a result of citizens feeling the heavy burden of the recent rise in the price of bread, which is now expected to be followed by numerous other price hikes, forewarned by PM Rama.

‘Protesting should become the norm and finally be ingrained into our culture’

According to Shkodra, peaceful protests should become part of our culture, so that we can keep on demanding transparency but also exert ‘positive pressure’ on our governments, the executive branch and law-enforcement agencies. Only this would grant us a ‘true democracy’.

“We also need to protest for more transparency in terms of how our public finances are managed by state structures,” – added Shkodra.

‘There’s no logical explanation behind raising the price of food products’

In addition, economy expert, Mateo Spaho stated that it is now a fact, that there is a price hike and that this is being reflected in global markets as well.

However, Spaho emphasized that authorities should investigate and find out whether the price hikes in Albania, can actually be justified as an unavoidable effect of the crisis and foreign markets or whether this rise goes even deeper than that.

“There is definitely an aspect of this price hike that is international. It’s in the global stock market and there’s nothing we can do about it. But, what we do actually have to do, is investigate if and how these international price hikes are influencing the rise of prices at home and whether prices might be getting higher here also,” – argued Spaho.

In addition, Spaho also added that if companies have reserves for 2-3 months, then there should be no logical reason for them to raise the price of food products.

“If companies have reserves for 2 months, then these reserves have been purchased 2-3 months earlier, which is why, there is no reason for them to raise prices today,” – added Spaho.

‘It’s embarrassing that we have to import farming products’  

According to the head of the Center of Albanian Exports, Alban Zusi, the reasonability for these price hikes doesn’t fall on the government, but on the global market. However, it is the government’s responsibility to focus its energy on industries that could improve the country’s economy.

Zusi said on tonight’s ‘Now’ that the government should be shifting its priorities and focusing its energy on the production of electricity as well as the production of basic farming products so that we don’t become dependent on international markets.

“It is embarrassing that we have to import farming and animal by-products from abroad,” – said Alban Zusi.

Zusi called today’s protest over price hikes ‘chaotic’ and blames this chaos on Rama’s recent statements about the oncoming energy crisis, during which he failed to postulate any kind of measures or possible solutions.

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