1-Covering statistics by uncovering figures
At the beginning of April, the Minsitry for Local Affairs faced four questions from APPA. These questions have not received an answer yet. The questions in the framework of verifying data published regarding the online portal www.stopkorrupsionit.al are the following:
The Ministry declares 2086 closed denouncments.
- What do they mean by ‘’closed’’?
- What is the ratio after verifying when the denouncing citizen was right with the cases when he was not right in his claims?
- If there was a case (in the 2086 closed) when the citizen was right, how did they proceed with the respective official?
- How many officials, verified as corrupt have been notified, suspended or fired?
These statistics, and others similar, will shed light on the real efficiency of this portal. In the meantime, on April 3 a second report was published regarding the anticorruption portal. In this report, the above mentioned questions are not clarified or answered, but it seems that the number of ‘’solved’’ denouncments has reached 2384. However, lacking information using electronic means, a request for information should be issued using the right to public information.
2- “Take it easy” Reform
On the other hand, the policy document for the development of a sustainable system for the maintenance of local and regional roads was presented on April 3. This document, without any reference to the terms of the agreement or the associated costs, was presented as an initiative of the Ministry. In the press release, it says: ‘’The Albanian Development Fund in cooperation with the State Ministry for Local Affairs, shared with stakeholders and interest groups the material that will serve as a starting point in the future to create an effective system, at the central and local level, of road maintenance’’. If we turn back in time, we are reminded that the inception of this plan and other initiatives of the Albanian Development Fund are requirements deriving from signing the Stability Pact with the European Union in the framework of the policies of coherence the latter promotes. The Albanian Development Fund, is one of the few units that survived several governments on both political campuses, but now the Ministry of Local Affairs seem to want to patronize it.
The following day, Bled Cuci, the Minister, organized a meeting with those he refers to as donors of the Territorial and Administrative Reform. Leading the table is the Swiss Embassy in Albania. Figures regarding funds from these donors are not yet public.
Meanwhile, if we consult the ‘’Cross-cutting strategy for Decentralization and Local Governance’’ we can see that points 7 and 8 of the action plan say that in April 2013 this draft would be sent for consultations to the Council of Ministers. This approval has not happened yet. Local administration remains deeply unfamiliar with the reform, as well as the general public. We can not find a memo, directive or document describing the work plan of institutions and their key directories reformed after the June 21 local elections. There is no serious preparation and effort to increase human capacities, at a time when Prime Minister Rama during a visit in Fier proudly declared: ‘’…complete reorganization of the territorial map of the Republic of Albania, from the administrative point of view and after June 21, we will have municipalities with more responsibilities, covering more territory, addressing more needs and facing more challenges’’. There is no estimation of the positions that will seize existing in the local administration, even less a strategy for the reintegration of these individuals that will lose their job.
While this process is very slowly moving forward, the Albanian opposition seems to have quickly forgotten the boycot that aimed to refuse the reform. Emphasizing that throughout this entire period the opposition never offered an alternative to the reform, often refusing the need for one.