Albania's Communist government has painted a dire picture of staggering production shortfalls and rising foreign debt that may hamper efforts to privatize the economy in Europe's poorest country.
In remarks to the country's parliament reported Friday, newly reappointed premier Fatos Nano revealed that the new privatization program aimed at helping the economy calls for the selling of property but not land. He said prices would be liberalized, houses and some firms privatized, and state factories given greater control over their own funds.Only foreign help can keep Albania going, Nano indicated Thursday in the speech reported by the ATA state news agency, monitored in Vienna.
Without mentioning the name of the late Stalinist leader Enver Hoxha, he blamed the current crisis on the country's past policy of self-reliance and refusing all foreign credits.
He disclosed that:
-Albania is saddled with $350 million dollars in foreign debts and a $320 million budget deficit, and must negotiate a moratorium on debt repayment.
-There are more than 50,000 unemployed people in the nation of 3.2 million. Another 40,000 are paid 80 percent of their daily wage just to stay idle, at a cost to the state of $7.3 million so far this year.
-Production in 1990 fell 10 percent from 1989, and economic growth through the 1980s was about 3.5 times less than in the 1970s, while Albania's young population - its average age is 27 - grew by 2 percent a year.
Albania has never before painted such a detailed picture of its economy. The figures showed why tens of thousands of Albanians recently have fled their country for Greece, Italy or Yugoslavia, seeking a better future.