Governor Sejko: Address at the end-of-year meeting with the media and the Governor’s Award ceremony

Publication date: 18.12.2023


Dear ladies and gentlemen,

Dear students,

Dear participants,

It is a great pleasure to welcome you in our home on the eve of the end-of-year holidays. This event, which has already turned into a consolidated tradition, where opinion makers, influencers of public opinion, and powerful voices of journalism honour us with their presence, also serves as a platform for our traditional ceremony “Governor's Award for the Best Diploma Thesis 2023”.


I would like to start my address by extending a heartfelt thank you to all of you who are present in this hall today, also to those representatives of the media who for various reasons could not be with us today. This thanks stems from the realistic and truthful reflection that you have made of the entire activity of the Bank of Albania during 2023, including its decision-making in the field of monetary policy. We think that your enhanced professionalism has underpinned the more efficient monetary policy pass-through in the economy and the strengthening of the Albanian banking sector stability. I take this opportunity to state that the image of the Bank of Albania and its activity, overall, have been conveyed to the public in an adequate manner throughout 2023. Even in cases where we have had different interpretations, we have tried and succeeded in cooperating with you to clarify the position and the expected consequences as much as possible in order to overcome any misinterpretation or deviation of the truth in the public.


Second, I would like to dwell very briefly on some of our most recent achievements and the challenges we are dealing with.


Now that we are in the last month of 2023, we can tell that the year we are leaving behind has marked a stable economic situation, which has succeeded to withstand the shocks caused by the global economy. Economic activity has been growing, enabling a rise in employment and wages and an improvement in the financial position of enterprises.  In parallel, both public debt and the foreign debt of the Albanian economy have been reduced, the lek exchange rate against foreign currencies has appreciated, while the non-performing loans ratio has remained at low levels. I would like to emphasise that the overall financial situation of banking sector appears sound, thus guaranteeing a crucial source to financing the economic activity in the forthcoming years.


On the other hand, inflation continued to come down in the third quarter of the year, recording an average rate of 4.1%. Nevertheless, while assessing the domestic inflationary to be relatively strong, the Bank of Albania decided to continue the normalisation drive of the monetary policy stance, by increasing the policy rate to 3.25%. As we have emphasised earlier, through this rise we aim that inflation returns to the target, at a reasonable time and at the lowest possible costs for the economy.


On the other hand, the Bank of Albania has continued the implementation of measures in the framework of the National Retail Payment Strategy (2018-2023), which aims at bolstering the financial inclusion of the population and the use of electronic payments as a more efficient tool in the Albanian economy. In this context, I would like to single out the recent approval of the "Law on the payment account with basic features". This very important law aims to financially include all those categories of the population that do not own a bank account, or have it and do not use it due to costs. It offers to individuals not only access to accounts, but also electronic payment services with 50% lower commissions. On the other hand, for vulnerable categories such as pensioners, students, unemployed persons and for those who benefit from economic assistance, this product is free of charge. In this perspective, it is estimated that the implementation of the law will not only contribute to the further improvement of the measures taken in the framework of the strategy, but at the same time it will support the more efficient transmission of our policies for safeguarding price stability and sustainable growth.


Our forecasts for the future remain in positive territory. Based on the favourable performance of economic developments in the country as well as the response of our monetary policy, we foresee that the Albanian economy will continue to grow further in the coming years. In line with these expectations, the monetary policy response will aim to ensure that this increase does not translate into inflation, protecting the purchasing power of Albanian families and helping the overall financial soundness of the economy. As I have emphasized before, the monetary policy will continue to maintain its essential role for increasing the general well-being of the Albanian society, through guaranteeing price stability and strengthening the financial health of the economy.


An important link that will be an additional impetus is the health of the Albanian banking system, which enjoys all the attributes to support the economic development of the country with the steps dictated by time.

Third, I would like to emphasize that the Bank of Albania will continue to be a loyal partner of the media world, guaranteeing a transparent and fast communication, styled in a simple language, easily perceptible by the general public. I express my conviction that the representatives of the media will continue to be an important window for conveying our activity to the public, in a professional and fast manner. I would like to reaffirm that our doors are open whenever you need to consult or request additional information about our activities and analysis on the economic and financial situation of Albania.

While thanking you again for your participation today, allow me to go forward in my address with the annual event of the Bank of Albania that of the ceremony of Governor’s Award for the Best Diploma Thesis.

In this 17-year tradition, experts at the Bank of Albania select and awards three best research topics conducted by Albanian students, graduating in Albania or abroad in the fields of economics and finance. I am pleased to note that, as in previous years, the topics focus on real issues in economy and finance and employ increasingly sophisticated contemporary methods to conduct the assessment of hypotheses and explore the economic and financial data.

In this year's competition, 26 students have presented their study topics at master's level and university studies. The studies address contemporary topics and explore interesting phenomena in the fields of economy and finance, which are directly or indirectly connected with the activity of the Bank of Albania and the financial market.

We are pleased to see the high quality of the research works submitted in this competition. The studies meet the characteristics of a genuine scientific work based on the application of   the best up-to-date scientific research methodologies. The assessment commission finds that the students have correctly applied sophisticated methods to build and structure statistical information. Consequently, the results and conclusions are grounded and valuable for decision makers.

The commission, albeit with difficulty, managed to reach a unanimous decision on the winners of the first three places of the "Governor's Award for the Best Diploma" that will be presented next. Before announcing the winners, I would like to commend all the participants in this competition for their thoughts, the employed methods and the conclusions presented in your research works. I congratulate the winners and kindly invite all applicants to show the same dedication and intellectual ambition in their professional careers!

I kindly, leave the floor to the Second Deputy Governor, Ms Natasha Ahmetaj, to announce the winner of the third prize.