Albanian mayor offers tax-free living to citizens who return home from Britain after his region saw ‘half its population’ move abroad

An Albanian mayor is desperately trying to lure back the large number of his citizens who have migrated to Britain by offering them a tax-free life if they return.

The northern municipality of Kukes has lost almost half its population to migration since 1990, data shows, with the majority of those who left the country choosing to go to Britain.

Now Mayor Albert Halilaj has had enough and is working with the British government to, as he put it, “help everyone who lives in England to come home.”

In an interview with The Expresshe vowed that ‘anyone who comes back from England and starts a new business will not pay taxes for two years as a way to help them start a new life in Kukes.’

He added that the British embassy is also trying to help with “major donations” and that efforts are being made to educate locals in one of Albania’s poorest regions to discourage them from starting a new life in Britain to search.

Mayor Albert Halilaj has had enough and is working with the British government to ‘help everyone living in England to come home’

Data shows that the northern municipality of Kukes has lost almost half of its population to migration since 1990

“We are against people going to England illegally,” he told the newspaper. “But things will change, people will try to find other ways to make money.”

Recent research from SwissContact found that 35 percent of current Kukes residents want to leave the region, and 59 percent want to migrate to Britain.

High youth unemployment is one of the main reasons they are being pushed out, with the promise of lucrative jobs in London and elsewhere tempting young men in particular to make the dangerous journey across Europe to Britain.

Kuke’s teenagers aged 13 and up were among those planning to cross the English Channel in small boats to start a new life, it is reported.

Emigrating young men can then be recruited by criminal gangs within days of arriving in Britain, with many working on cannabis farms before returning home with piles of cash.

Those who have returned are said to be flaunting their wealth and disrupting the local economy by driving up house prices in the Balkan country.

Polls have also revealed why members of the Kukes community want to leave.

While a significant number (37 percent) said this was due to youth unemployment and 35 percent pointed to poverty, the biggest problem (58 percent) was the high cost of living.

TikTok videos show dozens of Albanian migrants making the dangerous crossing across the English Channel

Number of migrants who crossed the English Channel on small boats between 2019 and 2023

The pandemic has also had a seriously damaging impact on the country’s economy, with the latest World Bank report on the region showing that it has pushed more than a third of Albanians into poverty.

More than a quarter of the 45,755 people who crossed the Channel in small boats last year came from Albania.

About 13,000 Albanian migrants crossed the Channel in rubber boats last year, compared to just 50 in 2020 and 800 in 2021. Many of them were young men.

Throughout 2022, 215 Albanians were returned to the country by the Ministry of the Interior.

Many migrants come from Kukes (photo), one of the poorest regions of Albania

Up to a third of people aged 16 to 29 are unemployed in Kukes, in the northeast of the country

The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said of its ‘New Perspectives’ project in Kukes that it “aims to provide social and economic opportunities to vulnerable communities in northern Albania, through activities such as training to to increase people’s employability. people who have no skills, or connecting local businesses with financial institutions.

‘The project takes an inclusive approach to understanding and addressing key issues that influence people’s and families’ decisions to migrate illegally, increasing their resilience to external pressures and enabling them to take advantage of local economic and entrepreneurial opportunities.

‘The project also addresses the associated social norms, communicates positively about opportunities, facilitates (young) people in making informed life choices and promotes gender equality.’