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Microeconomics

Viljon Petriti, 37, washes cars in Korçë, a city in south-eastern Albania of 51,000 people, though he trained as an agricultural scientist. He and his wife and four-year-old daughter live with his brother, who works at the same carwash, and his mother. Neither his wife nor his mother have paid work.





Income, basic costs and retirement provisions

Petriti’s salary is calculated as a percentage of the company’s sales. It is €220 to €300 (£200-£270) a month if he works seven days a week, and he pays about €40 in tax. He does not pay rent, because he lives in a house occupied by his family, nor property tax, as who exactly owns the property has been unclear for some years. Petriti has no regrets about this, because otherwise he would be liable for a one-off payment of €3,000. He pays almost €50 a month in compulsory national insurance (for healthcare, pension and unemployment). If he were unemployed, he would receive €20 a month.

What does work mean to you?

Work keeps people alive.

What is the most important thing in your life?

My family.

What would you like to change about your life?

I’d like to have one day a week off work, to spend more time with my daughter. But carwashes are open non-stop; there are no Sundays off. If I don’t turn up, someone else will do my job instead. So I only see my daughter for an hour in the evening. It’s only when it rains and fewer drivers show up that I have more time for her.

What are your biggest problems and how do you deal with them?

The political system – it doesn’t allow fair competition. My carwash is officially regis-tered and I pay taxes. Most of the others work without papers; they can do that be-cause they know someone who will protect them. Jobs here also often depend on par-ty affiliations. When the new government came to power, my wife lost her job as a teacher to someone who was a member of the ruling party. But there is nothing I can do about that. You have to live with it.

What would you do if you didn’t have to earn a living for one year?

I would still work. But perhaps less than I do now.

What do you want from the future, and what are you doing to achieve it?
I am working hard so my daughter can study abroad. Then she will be able to stay there and work in her field – instead of, like me, studying agricultural science for five years and then ending up washing cars.

Would you leave Albania if you could?

Just look around: everyone wants to leave! If I could take my family with me, I would leave at once. But we are not yet in the European Union. There is nowhere for us to go.

Albania

Population: 2.9 million
Currency: Albanian lek (ALL) (124 ALL = €1 = £0.90)
GDP per capita: €3,786
Human Development Index (2018): ranked 68th of 188

Current average costs

A litre of petrol: €1.65
A round in a café (mocha coffee and glass of raki): €0.75
A packet of cigarettes: €1.70
A loaf of bread: €0.40
1 cubic metre of wood (for heating, cooking and hot water): €40
A car wash (inside and out): €2.20