The candidate of the coalition “Together for Tirana,” Belind Këlliçi, today’s guest on A2 CNN “Debate”, gave three alternatives as to where he will find the money for this electoral promise, which he pledged will be for all citizens of Tirana for the 4-year term of the first mandate.
“It is entirely possible to provide free transportation. It only takes political will and the vision of a city administrator to prioritize citizens and provide free transportation to all Tirana residents for four years. Every day, 200 thousand citizens use this service. Some people receive discounts, subscriptions, and benefits, and every day, 140 thousand 400 lek tickets are purchased. This equates to 56 million old lek per day, 1.5 million euros per month, and 18 million euros per year. The Municipality subsidizes 1.5 million euros per year, leaving us with 16.5 million euros. Each year, this service costs 16.5 million euros.
Where will the funds for free public transportation come from?
If we pay 14 million euros today for a fictitious incinerator in Tirana, this has nothing to do with the cleaning fee. We pay for something we don’t get. After May 14, I will invite the SPAK, the media and the prosecution to the Sharra landfill, to see if the waste is being treated there. If this occurs, I will pay back the debt. Without resorting to arbitration, but if this does not occur, I will stop payments and use them for free transportation, as well as criminally prosecute those responsible. Transportation costs 1.5 million Euros per month, which equates to only two building permits per month. All free public transportation is covered by these two permits.
You should be aware that the tax administration is incapable of collecting 38% of taxes, implying that there is a high level of informality and corruption. One of these is the public space fee, which I promised to cut in half because it encourages corruption. The cleaning and greening fee is not collected on a consistent basis.
If all three of the above alternatives fail to deliver on the promise of free transportation for capital residents, Këlliçi has a backup plan.
“With the new program of lowering taxes and eliminating unconstitutional infrastructure taxes, I will be able to broaden the range of businesses that pay on a regular basis. With the introduction of the waste tax, I will enter the Municipality of Tirana, which means 60 million euros more taxes in the budget.
If all three of these options fail, the 16.5 million euros represent only 6.8% of the municipality’s total budget.
“I’m with my feet on the ground; I can’t guarantee 24-hour water,” Këlliçi: “I don’t make promises I can’t keep.”
The biggest issue that Belind Këlliçi, the candidate of the “Together We Win” coalition, has observed during meetings with citizens of the capital is tap water. In the Debate studio on A2 CNN, he said that in every area, there is only one or two hours of water per day, while people pay three times for tap water.
“I had not considered tap water to be a major issue. In every area, I’ve become acquainted with the reality of one or two hours per day. I’ve seen a different reality in rural areas, where the vast majority of people get their water from wells and pay the UKT for a service they don’t get. This also occurs in the Kombinat area, at the Çabej buildings that are not network-connected. We pay three times for tap water because it passes through the network but is not consumed. ‘It is dangerous, but not fatal.’ The vast majority of families pay for drinking water, cooking, and electricity, which powers the pumps that transport water to tanks above buildings. It is not even considered for farmer’s lands.”
Këlliçi stated that during he cannot guarantee 24-hour drinking water but promised 19-20 hours of drinking water.
“My priority is the citizens, not the political fight. I cannot guarantee Tirana 24-hour drinking water in a single term. It necessitates a massive investment. I guarantee that by the end of the first term, it will be 19-20 hours of drinking water per day, not 12-14 hours. I’d like to be with my feet on the ground. And you won’t hear about electric trains or trams, but rather about tangible items with financial invoices.”