Our response to the pandemic must shape our futureALTax
The pandemic is a motive for change, as it served with its own evil to accurately expose the failures and problems of the system and model of governance. All defects and weaknesses need to be changed at this beginning of the third decade of the century we live in.
Although Albania is almost three times richer than thirty years ago, close to 50% of people say that the minimum wage is not enough to live on and most employees think that the violation of the rights of collective agreements between employees and owners is allowed in businesses. This state of implementation of the social contract is in fact an inequality that comes from the economic and social model.
The current macroeconomic model has failed and people who work to maintain it feel this fact every day. The power and greed of big business has long gripped governments, which in turn beyond propaganda to convince us otherwise to act / do not act to the detriment of workers’ rights and safety. In the supply chain of goods and services, over 60% of the workforce is hidden in the unjustifiable spaces of obscurity of business contracts and non-enforcement of the law facilitating the exploitation and disrespect of their rights.
The current social contract, as the core of the morality of worthless political philosophy needs to be revised to change the relationship between the two poles of the world we live in, between the common people class and the complicated and rich class of people holding leadership positions in economy and politics.
The review should be conducted to redefine the rights and duties of each.
It is time for a New Social Contract between workers with unions, government and business owners. This new approach should include a new level of employment guarantee for all workers to cope with living conditions based on collective bargaining, where social protection is above universal standards, and social dialogue ensures non-negotiable rights to new economy and protection from the effects of the introduction of technology.
Implementation of a New Social Contract will ensure that rights are respected, jobs are in better conditions and the minimum wage is not set by the government, but by agreement between stakeholders, trade unions and business leaders with knowledge of government.
The forced introduction of the coronavirus into our lives has destroyed many relationships and has eroded many parts of public confidence in the political and governing spirit, that is, in the current social contract. Particularly trust has fallen on the Albanian economy and health system, which are far from the standard of developed countries to cope with and treat the symptoms of local and global crises such as pandemics or natural disasters.
In this difficult time, it was the personal sacrifice of health workers, social care workers, trade and service workers, multi-sector workers and many other public servants who made us understand who keeps the system afloat, because they can.
Meanwhile, those responsible companies that have stayed close to supply chains have reused their services and products for social needs, but also kept their workforce almost full-fledged with a consistency that shows who really keeps our fragile economy afloat.
In these circumstances, when the state budget does not have the capacity to cope with such situations that are barely being covered even by the budgets of rich countries, it is necessary to analyze and issue tasks to do what needs to be changed and programmed for the better and in long-term for our descendants.
Already this year has kept us in a state of alarm, but has it influenced us to change in each and every one of those policies and actions that are worth promoting in this new decade?
Can we reach a new social contract?
Does everyone love him?
Should it foster a sense of cooperation starting with this crisis and advancing with a new political agenda?
Today, protesters take to the streets, even in the midst of a pandemic like the one we are experiencing and we can try that effort they should not fight in vain. The current momentum urges us all to unite to fight inequalities in public policy, e.g. in Public Finance and Social Protection policies, which should reflect our priorities.
A meaningful example would be in the case of rescue packages for businesses, which should include adequate social protection measures for their workers to be treated with due dignity.
Instead of packages, which are temporary measures but do not address long-term solutions, a new social contract could address the fact that while poverty has been reduced, inequalities within the country are growing rapidly, to a large extent through model and system defects.
Even monetary and financial policies so far can help the economy from temporary liquidity constraints, but they cannot fix solvency problems, nor can they provide protection for the continuity or livelihood of categories and individuals in need.
Throughout this system of political and economic relations, it seems that our country has not been able to use strong measures to protect itself from foreigner influences.
But a new social contract based on a new political spirit without elements of populism would be the first distinguishing mark of the systematization of the defects presented.
In this process of change we must not accept so easily the format of future leaders who constantly call for help the “will of the people” as they consolidate executive power.
In contrast, the new social contract must be based on a partnership that produces value and has a direct impact on tackling poverty and exploitation beyond the standards of the relationship set out in the contracts between the parties and known as universal standards.
Lessons from past and present economic crises, including the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, should be used to transform our current model of doing business from an unsustainable status to the opposite.
Even with tax reform we need to start designing a philosophy based on income tax, as a safe and transformative basis by first taxing the wealth of people who really have an above-average well-being, as well as completing existing reforms to eliminate deviations and exceptions without clear criteria over the years.
Our response to the pandemic must shape our future. Strategies, programs, governance model, business and investors should use this unique opportunity to bring employee rights and their responsibility to translate into business and economic models increased opportunities for employees and their rights.
All of us should not leave to our descendants such weaknesses to remind us only through them.