President Ilir Meta has decided not to sign the budget bill for 2019 and sent it back for revision to the parliament, local media reported. The president’s office announced that it has a full confidence that the parliament will consider more inclusive collaboration to meet the protesting students’ demands and defend public interest. Meta added that students’ demands are legitimate and feasible and need to be considered. One of the students’ requests includes the raising of the budget allocation for the education sector to 5% of GDP from the current 2.9%. The other demands are related to lowering the university fees, improving university standards and dormitories, as well as to increased students’ participation in universities’ decision-making bodies.
PM Rama has constantly sent invitations for dialogue to the students over the past days, but students continue to reject the invitations saying their demands are non-negotiable. We think that the ruling Socialist Party (SP) might decide to slightly up budget funding for education in the budget bill revision, but the hike is unlikely to reach 5% of GDP, taking into account the cabinet’s target to achieve the lowest budget deficit in the past years set at 1.9% of GDP for 2019. We do not think that there will be significant revision of the budget bill, if at all, as the SP has sufficient MPs to approve easily the bill again.