From Albania Today, 1973, 3

Panorama of the Economic-Social Development of Socialist Albania

By Aristotel Pano – University professor at the economics faculty of the State University of Tirana, specialist on problems of finance and statistics.

Some thoughts and facts about the Albania of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Rate of development in the various fields of socio-economic and cultural construction

In the south-western part of the Balkan peninsula, in an area of about 28,000 km2, live 2.3 million Albanians who, holding the pick in one hand and the rifle in the other, are showing the whole world what wonders a free people can work, however small in number, when they are led by a genuine Marxist-Leninist party. Very few people knew Albania before the Second World War. Some foreign bourgeois politicians considered Albania at that time as merely a geographical notion and, some ultra reactionaries and fascists, between imperialist bargainings, were trying to trample underfoot this ancient country and people of patriotic, revolutionary traditions.

It is difficult to characterize the giant stride of the Albanian people within 29 years of the people's power in a few pages. Poverty and the impoverishment of the working masses reigned in pre-liberation Albania. The taxes and imposts levied on the people constituted 95.7 per cent of the state budget and this budget was mainly used for the palace, for the police and the army of the Zog regime. In this field no comparison whatever can be drawn with the present situation, since Albania today is the only country in the world where the working people pay no imposts or taxes whatever.

Before liberation, the Albanian peasants suffered from malaria and other diseases, they were illiterate and their small huts were lit only by torch-light and oil-lamp, while today all the Albanian villages are lit by electric light. The pre-liberation Albanian economy imported almost everything from abroad, including matches and needles, while now our country produces the major part of its commodities by itself and, indeed, some of them successfully compete in foreign markets too.

Or let us take another fact; before liberation 80 per cent of the population was illiterate, while today 1/3 of the population pursues studies and Albania has its own academy of sciences with its many institutes and an electronic computer centre, all managed by Albanians themselves.

It is perhaps difficult for a foreigner to understand the grandeur of these socio-economic changes made by the Albanian people under the brilliant leadership of their Party of Labour. But the Myzeqe peasants or the Kurbnesh highlanders, who have lived the sad past, feel the magnificence of the successes of the socialist construction of the country at their every step. Therefore, when Radio Tirana announced that in the elections to the Sixth legislature of the People's Assembly 100 per cent of the voters cast their votes for Democratic Front candidates, the Albanians very easily understand this logical fact which to a foreigner may seem very very strange and paradoxical. In reality this is one of the external aspects of the monolithic unity of the people around the Party of Labour and our outstanding and glorious leader comrade Enver Hoxha. Their names are connected with all the victories of socialist Albania during these 29 years of the building of a free and happy life here on the Adriatic coasts, in the heart of Europe infested with imperialism and revisionism of various hues.





1. Figures which speak for themselves

The various aspects of the economic development of a country can be shown by many specific indices, but the most eloquent index for this purpose is without fail that of the national income. The change in the volume of the national income summarily characterizes all the successes achieved by an economy in the development of its productive forces, as well as the financial possibilities of a country for further accumulation and for the uninterrupted elevation of the level of wellbeing of the labouring masses.

As a result of the vigorous development of the various branches of material production, in 1970 the Albanian national income increased over 8.3 times in comparison with 1938. Despite the great increase of the population, per capita incomes for the same period increased 4 times. The 1971-1975 five-year plan envisages a further increase of the national income by 55-60 per cent as compared with 1970.

A main feature of the national income of our country is the achievement of a high rate of increase throughout the period of socialist construction, although the basis of comparison becomes greater from year to year. Here is a table of the average annual growth of the national income according to the 5-year plans:

 

1955-1960

1961-1965

1966-1970

1971-75 (Plan)

Average annual rate of increase in %

7

5.8

9.1

9.5

As can be seen, if we exclude the 1961-1965 period in which, as a result of the savage imperialist-revisionist blockade, our economy suffered a certain decline in the rate of increase, in all the other periods the average annual rate of increase of the national income has continued to grow. This is one of the characteristics of our progressive and high rate of development.

In order to better understand the successes of Albania concerning the increase of the national income we can draw some comparisons with the world as a whole and with other countries.

During the 1960-1970 period the average annual rate of increase of national income for the world in general was 5.6 per cent, for Europe it was 4.6 per cent, while for Albania – 7.2 per cent. Thus, during this period the average annual rate of increase of Albania's national income was 29 per cent higher than the world average and 56 per cent higher than the European average.1

Albania, due to its correct economic policy, has obtained a higher rate of increase of the national income not only in comparison with the world average and with that of Europe, but also in comparison with many individual countries which had better conditions of development from the viewpoint of the past.

Thus, if we consider the last period of our development, 1965-1970, and compare ourselves with some neighbouring countries or with some other countries of Eastern Europe where the revisionist cliques are in power, then we have the following results.2

Country

Average annual rate of increase in %

1 Albania

9.1

2 Yugoslavia

6.2

3 Greece

7.1

4 Bulgaria

8.6

5 Poland

6.1

6 Hungary

7.0

7 Czechoslovakia

6.8

8 Italy

5.6

Another important fact is that our rate of increase of the national income is not only high, but increases continually, while in other countries the rate has begun to fall. Thus, for the 1971-1975 period the average annual rate of increase of the national income in our country is envisaged to be 5 per cent higher than that of the 1966-1970 period, while in Bulgaria, Hungary, the German Democratic Republic, Poland, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, this rate is expected to decline.

In pre-liberation Albania about 90 per cent of the national income was ensured from agriculture alone, which shows that it was essentially an agricultural country. Now the structure of our economy has completely changed. The implementation of the Leninist policy of industrialization resulted in the transformation of Albania from an essentially agricultural country into an agricultural-industrial country. This is also evident from analysis of the present-day structure of the production of the national income according to the branches of material production. The specific weight of individual branches of material production in the realization of the country's national income expressed in percentage is as follows:

Branches of material production

1938

1950

1960

1965

1970

1. Industry

3.2

11.0

32.7

35.0

42.4

2. Agriculture

93.1

76.3

44.4

43.8

34.5

3. Building construction

0.8

4.6

10.9

10.1

12.2

4. Transport, Commerce, etc.

29.3

8.1

12.0

11.1

12.9

Total

00

100

100

100

100

The above data shows that the major part of the national income is now realized in Albania from the industrial branch. The specific weight of the industrial branch in the realization of the national income grew from 11.0 per cent to 42.4 per cent in the twenty years between 1950 and 1970. The fifth five-year plan (1971-1975) will mark a new stride forward in the increase of the role of industry in the creation of the national income and in the transformation of Albania from an agricultural-industrial country into an industrial-agricultural country.

Today in Albania the socialist relations of production have triumphed 100 per cent in all the sectors and branches of the economy. Thus, the whole of the national income is produced in the socialist sector. The economic policy of the Party of Labour of Albania has ensured not only a rapid growth of the national income, but also its correct utilization in the interest of the labouring masses, in the interest of the present and of the future. In Albania there are no longer parasitic and exploiting classes, as is the case in the capitalist and revisionist countries where the bourgeois classes and strata in power appropriate the major part of the national income. In Albania, the whole of the national income belongs to the working people and is used to their advantage, to increase the wellbeing of the working people.

One of the main preoccupations of the economic policy of our Party concerning the utilization of the national income is its correct division into accumulation fund and consumer fund. On this question the aim has been and remains to utilize the national income in such a way as to ensure a high rate of development of the country and to improve the material and cultural standards of the working people, not only at present, but in the future, too. The high rate of increase of the national income has created conditions for the consumer fund, on which the material and cultural standards of the labouring masses depend, to grow continually both in volume and per capita of the population.

Thus, in 1970, as compared with 1950, the volume of the consumer fund amounted to 373.3 per cent, and per capita of the population – 213 per cent. Thus, the consumption per capita of the population within 20 years doubled, which shows a considerable improvement of the material and cultural conditions of the labouring masses. In every period, alongside the large investments and accumulations, the Party has taken care to earmark a considerable part of the funds for the increase of the real incomes of the population. Thus, under the fourth five-year plan (1966-1970) the real incomes per capita of the population increased by 17 per cent. It is expected that the real incomes per capita of the population will increase more or less at the same rate during the 1971-1975 period too. '

2. Results of the policy of industrialization

It is well known that the economic successes of a country at the present time are determined in the first place by the rate and proportions of its industrialization. For this reason, since the first days of the establishment of the people's power, the Party drafted and applied the magnificent plan for the socialist industrialization of the country at a rapid rate. Albania inherited a backward industry from the past, therefore essential changes had to be made in this field within a short period of time. Thanks to its correct policy in the field of industrialization too, within 20-25 years our country created a modern and diversified industry, formerly non-existent, which not only fulfils a large part of the country's needs but also provides many commodities for export. One of the indices testifying to the colossal successes of our country in the field of industrialization is that of the increase of total industrial production. Thus, in 1970, as compared with 1938, total industrial production increased 63.7 times. This colossal increase of total industrial production in comparison with 1938 is mainly the result of the high rate of economic development. This is also shown by the fact that our industrial production has greatly increased not only in comparison with the pre-liberation period, but also with the subsequent periods.

If we compare our rate of increase of industrial production during the 1951-1970 period with that of the world and its areas we have the following results:3

Country

Average annual rate of increase 1951-1970

1. Albania

14.7

2. World in general

7   

3. Developed capitalist countries

5.3

4. Other capitalist countries

10   

5. Revisionist countries

10   

Thus our rate of increase of industrial production is double that of the world, almost 3 times higher than that of the developed capitalist countries and 47 per cent higher than that of the revisionist countries.

Of special importance is the fact that our economy continues to develop at a high rate, although the basis of our industrial production has grown considerably. In order to appreciate the proportions of the growth of the basis of industrial production suffice it to mention that under the first five-year plan (1951-1955), one per cent of the increase of industrial production represented production amounting to 5 million leks, while under the fourth five-year plan (1966-1970), one per cent of this increase represented production amounting to 70 million leks. Despite this great increase of the basis of comparison, the rate of increase of industrial production continues to be higher than the average for the world and its various countries. To become convinced of this, suffice it to look at the figures of the last five-year plan, 1966-1970.

Thus, during the 1966-1970 period the average annual rate of increase of total industrial production was:4

Country

Average annual rate of increase of industrial production in % for the 1966-1970 period.

1. Albania

12.9   

2. Revisionist countries:

7.5-8

a) Bulgaria

10.9   

b) Hungary

6      

c) German D.R.

6.5   

d) Poland

8.4   

e) Czechoslovakia

6.8   

The above data shows that we continue to have a very high rate of increase of industrial production as compared with the revisionist countries. This rate of ours will continue to be high under the 5th five-year plan (1971-1975) too. For this period an average annual rate of increase of industrial production of 10.3 per cent is envisaged, a figure about 7 per cent greater than the rate envisaged for the same period in Bulgaria, about 70 per cent greater than that envisaged in Hungary, 65 per cent greater than that in the German D.R., 65 per cent greater than that envisaged in Czechoslovakia, etc.5

A characteristic of our industrial development is the priority growth of the branches producing the means of production and especially of the electric power industry, engineering industry, chemical industry, etc., at the same time without neglecting the consumer industry. In the last decade (1960-1970) the tempo of the individual sectors of industry was characterized by the following indices (in %):

Years

Total industrial production

of which

Extracting Industry

Processing Industry

Power Industry

1960

100   

100   

100   

100   

1965

139   

105.3

141.7

167.9

1970

225.4

179.9

259.0

441.0

These figures show that the production of electric power has continued to grow with greater priority, which is of great importance for the development of the economy.

While previously, the greatest weight in the total industrial production was represented by the production of consumer goods (group B), now the most important specific weight is represented by the production of the means of production (group A). In 1970 the latter accounted for 56.6 per cent of total industrial production. The new five-year plan (1971-1975) will mark a new stride towards the further industrialization of our country, especially with the construction of such rich projects as the ferrous metallurgy combine in Elbasan (the first stage of which will be put into operation in 1975) and the big Fierza hydropower station.

3. Profound changes in the agricultural sector

In the pre-liberation period Albania was a very backward agricultural country, where 40 per cent of the land was in the hands of 3 per cent of landlord families, while 14 per cent of the peasant families were landless.

The first revolution carried out by the people's power in the agricultural sector was the land reform. Through this reform the land and other means of production of the landlords and rich peasants were expropriated and distributed to poor peasants. Seventy-thousand peasant families benefited from the land reform; they were given the land they had dreamed of for so long, free of charge.

The second revolution in the agricultural sector was collectivization, the voluntary union of the small peasant economies into large socialist economies, a process which was completed in the years 1965-1966. With the conclusion of collectivization the exploitation of man by man was liquidated once and for all in agriculture, and socialist relations of production were fully established in the countryside too. These two important revolutions opened great prospects to the development of the productive forces and to the increase of agricultural production.

During the years of the people's power the Party has devoted its attention in the agricultural sector to the extension of the arable areas, to the mechanization of and introduction of chemical aids into agriculture, to the increase of agricultural yields and to the improvement of the entire structure of agricultural production.

Albania is a country with a high rate of increase of the population whose needs could not be fulfilled without the increase of the arable land area. Therefore, the clearing of virgin land and the big land reclamation works enabled the arable land area to increase to 599,000 hectares in 1970, in comparison with 292,000 hectares in 1938, that is, to double.

The great tasks of increasing agricultural production could not be realized without the mechanization of agricultural work. Therefore, providing agriculture with mechanized means has been one of the serious concerns of the people's power. Thanks to this care, in 1970 Albania had 10,900 tractors in terms of 15 HP, in comparison with only 30 tractors all told in 1938; while in 1970 it had 1,286 threshing machines, in comparison with 75 in 1938. The tasks of increasing the yield of agricultural crops could not have been realized without the introduction of chemical aids into agriculture, without the use of chemical fertilizers. While much still remains to be done in this direction, the successes achieved so far are encouraging. In 1970 176.8 thousand tons of chemical fertilizer were used in Albanian agriculture in comparison with 5.2 thousand tons in 1950. In 1970 over 75 kg. of active substance were used per hectare of cultivated land in comparison with only 2.6 kg. in 1950. Today we are more advanced in the use of chemical fertilizers than Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Yugoslavia and many other countries. Great importance in agriculture has been attached to the extension of the irrigated area, taking into consideration our weather conditions. Thus, while in 1938 only 10 per cent of the cultivated area was irrigated, in 1970 this figure increased to 54%. All these measures have resulted in the satisfactory increase of the volume of agricultural production. The tempo of total agricultural production has been as follows:

Index of total agricultural production in %

1938

1950

1960

1965

1970

100

119

172

223

309

Thus, in comparison with 1936, in 1970 the volume of total agricultural production in our country increased over 3 times. This increase is 5 per cent greater than the increase of the number of the population.

On the question of the rate of increase of total agricultural production we have surpassed the world average as well as the average of many other countries. During the 1954-1970 period, the average rate of increase of agricultural production for the world as whole was 2.6%, while for Albania it was 4.9%, or 1.9 times more.

Important successes have been achieved in the agricultural sector, particularly during the fourth 5-year plan (1965-1970). In this period the average rate of increase of agricultural production was higher than in all the previous periods and considerably surpassed the average rate of increase in all the countries of Eastern Europe. Thus, during the years 1965-1970 the average rate of increase of agricultural production in Albania and in some other countries of Eastern Europe was as follows:6

Countries

Average annual rate of increase in %

1. Albania

5.8

2. Bulgaria

3.4

3. Hungary

2.8

4. German D.R.

1.5

5. Poland

1.8

6. Czechoslovakia

4.9

7. USSR

3.9

As can be seen, during this period the average annual rate of increase of total agricultural production in Albania was 2-3 times greater than that of the other countries. Agricultural production will take a very important stride forward during the 1971-1975 period when, under the 5th five-year plan an increase of 65-69 per cent is envisaged, that is an average annual rate of 10.8 per cent.

With the increase of agricultural production, with the economic and organisational consolidation of the agricultural cooperatives, the incomes of the peasantry, too, have increased and continue to increase. In recent years the state itself has adopted a series of measures to the benefit of the peasantry, such as the abolition of taxes on the mountainous and hilly agricultural cooperatives, the reduction of tariffs on machine and tractor station work, establishment of pensions and other forms of social security for the cooperativists, etc.

4. Albania – a big construction site

These great successes of socialist Albania could not have been realized without a studied and intensified programme of investments and construction work. Our country has turned into a big construction site, where factories, hospitals, schools and apartment houses are going up everywhere. In order to understand the majestic programme of construction work in Albania suffice it to compare the state investments made in various periods:

 

Sum in million leks

1951-1955

2250

1956-1960

4266

1961-1965

6029

1966-1970

9406

1970-1975 (Plan)

16460

Thus state investment funds have increased at a rapid rate from one five-year plan to another.

Investments in the 1971-1975 period will be particularly great, surpassing the total investments made in the 1960-1970 period. The major part of the investments has been earmarked for the construction of industrial projects, but a considerable part has been allocated to other branches, including for the construction of apartment houses.

The improvement of housing conditions has been a continual concern of the Party and our people's power, and this has been solved not only through the construction of houses by the population themselves, but also through large-scale construction work by the State. Thus the construction of apartment houses by the State and of houses by the population is characterized by the following figures:

Periods

Total number of flats and houses built

of these

By the State

By the population

1951-1955

26110

7596

18514

1956-1960

47413

11734

35679

1961-1965

44693

15808

28885

1966-1970

73213

29045

44168

1971-1975 (Plan)

80000

40000

40000

This large scale construction work carried out during the 1950-1970 period, has enabled more than half of Albania's population to move into new lodgings. In the improvement of the wellbeing of the working masses it is important to point out not only the high rate of the construction of apartments, but also the exceptionally low rent the population pays. In fact house rent in Albania amounts to only 1.5-3 per cent of the expenditure of an average family.

5. Development of education and health

The panorama of the great changes that have occurred in socialist Albania during the years of the people's power would be incomplete if we did not stress the revolution that has been carried out in the field of education and health. Education and health services in our country are provided free of charge to the whole population.

Ever since its early years the people's power has adopted energetic measures to completely eradicate illiteracy and to develop all forms of education. As a result, today we have a broad network of schools of all types, and the State makes colossal expenditure on them.

The following figures give an idea of the development of education in Albania:

Indices:

1938

1950

1960

1965

1970

1. Total number of pupils7 and students per 1000 inhabitants

56.3

178.0

311.5

425.0

661.2

Of these:

 

 

 

 

 

a) In 8-year schools

54.6

170.8

274.8

361.2

555.3

b) In middle schools

1.7

6.8

29.9

51.0

80.4

c) In higher schools

0.3

6.7

12.8

20.5

2. Budget expenditure on education and culture (in million leks)

58.6

250.1

333.4

553.8

The figures in the above table show that the development of education and the budget expenditure on education have taken on proportions incomparable with the pre-liberation period or even with the year 1950.

The health service in Albania has undergone similar development. Thanks to the great concern of the Party and the people's power in our country, such diseases as malaria and syphilis, which formerly half the population suffered from, have long ago disappeared. This table of health indices and budget expenditure in the health service in Albania gives an idea of the development of this sector:

Data:

1938

1950

1960

1965

1970

1. Number of doctors and dentists

122

149

478

990

1808

2. Number of inhabitants per 1 doctor

8527

8156

3362

1865

1181

3. Number of beds in health institutions (in thousands)

1.0

5.3

8.6

11.1

15.1

4. Number of beds per 10,000 inhabitants

9.6

43.7

53.4

59.3

70.8

5. State budget expenditure on health (in million leks)

...

31.4

153.0

71.4

260.7

These figures show that while in 1938 Albania had 1 doctor for every 8,527 inhabitants, in 1970 it had 1 doctor for every 1181 inhabitants, or over 8 times more. Likewise, in 1938 health institutions had 9.8 beds per 10,000 inhabitants while in 1970 there were 70.8 beds, or over 7 times more. State budget expenditure on health has also increased at a very rapid rate.

The measures and concern of the Party and the people's power towards health have been directly reflected in the prolongation of the average life expectancy in Albania and in the perceptible lowering of the mortality rate, which has ensured a rapid increase of the population. Thus, while in 1938 the average life expectancy of the population in Albania was 38.3 years, in 1969-1970 it rose to 68 years; the mortality rate in Albania in 1938 was 17.8 per thousand, while in 1969 it fell to 7.5 per thousand.

All this shows the great improvement of the material and cultural standards of the labouring masses.


As a result of the mechanization of agriculture and of a broader use of chemical and organic fertilizers, agricultural products in Albania have greatly increased.

The data presented in this article, although incomplete, clearly testifies to the colossal successes of the Albanian working people in the complete construction of socialist society. They are indisputable testimony to what a country and a people, though small in number, are able to do when they proceed on the road of socialism, led by a genuine Marxist-Leninist party.



1) Data concerning the World and Europe refer to the 1960-1963 period and have been taken from “Yearbook of National Accounts Statistics” 1970, II volume International Tables p. 74-91.

2) Concerning Yugoslavia, the data has been calculated on the basis of Statistiqni Godisnjak Jugoslavje pages 102-103; Greece – on the basis of Roczhik Statystyczny 1972 p. 625 (Polish statistical yearbook); concerning other countries – on the basis of the yearbook “Narodnoe Hazjastvo SSSR 1970 goda” page 84.

3) For the world as a whole the calculations are ours. For the groups of countries the figures have been taken from the review "Mirovaja ekonomika i mjezhdunarodnie othoshenra” Nr. 1 – 1973, pages 151 and 156.

4) Figures taken from the review “Vjestnik statistiki” Nr. 12 – 1971 page 34.

5) Calculations made according to data from “Vjestnik Statistiki” Nr. 12 – 1971 page 34.

      1. Figures for these countries taken from the review "Vjestnik Statisliki” Nr. 12 – 1971 page 36.