1- Loan or taxes to maintain roads?
On April 10, another Loan Agreement was signed with the World Bank, a loan that will serve to finance the project: ‘’Road Maintenance and Security Based on Results’’. The loan allocated from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, has the following terms[i]:
- Sum – 65,900,000 Euro
- Front-end Tariff – 0.25 % of loan sum
- Engagement Tariff – 0.25% per year over the non retrieved loan
- Maturation – 22.5 years of which 7 years without principal payment
- Interests – Referrential rates (EURIBOR 6 months) plus the Non-changable margin (1%)
The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure through the Albanian Road Authority and will end in 31 December 2021.
‘’I believe with this important project, where we have approximately 80 million $ from the project and a fund offered by the Albanian government of 50 million $’’, was the comment on the loan from the Minister of Transport Edmond Haxhinasto[ii], ‘’I would say we have a satisfactory fund to guarantee high maintenance quality for the country’s roads in the 5 upcoming months’’.
When there are already 130 million $ in disposal to ‘’guarantee high maintenance quality for roads’’ as Minister Haxhinasto expressed, then why a new International Road Tax Strategy is being planned (?), a project that costed 149 117 Euros for the budget of the Ministry of Transports and Infrastructure, which aimed to introduce road taxes and ensure a maintenance fund for the road network. Where will the money from the road tax go, as decided by Egnatia Odos, the chosen company for consulence? Maybe this project will not be completed and will remain just another project for someone to benefit state money.
Another argument added to the arguments against road taxes mentioned in the March monitoring article[iii].
2- Driver’s licence with points while road signs remain a problem
On April 22 the new system with points entered into force. In the website of the Ministry of Transports and Infrastructure a table with points was put in disposal regarding infringments in behavior norms[iv] for each driver. The document outlines how many points will be extracted for each infringment. Every holder of a driver’s licence will own 20 points at the beginning, which will be extracted in cases of infringments or added by two points if within two years no infringements are noted.
The implementation of this practice is in line with practices of other countries in the EU. The idea to discipline circulation is a valuable one. However, does Albania have the right conditions to start this practice? Many roads are far from standards and avoiding holes often becomes cause for accidents or infringments of circulation rules. Lack of traffic signals is one of the main reasons mentioned in road accidents. Keeping in mind this fact, in addition to changes in the Roads Code it would be useful to undertake urgent plans to invest in traffic signs. Bringing roads to international standards should come before the application of this practice. In these conditions, the driver’s licence with points leaves space for abuses. Traffic police can use it to blackmail drivers.
The Minister cited the undertaken measures aim to protect the lives of citizens. But this was also the reason given when the government increased fines for infringments. In reality, the number of accidents is not lower and the fines are 4 folds higher, which makes one think this is not the right policy.
3- Tirana – Durres Railroad
On April 15, Minister Haxhinasto signed another consulence contract with Rail Consulting Joint Venture ‘’JV RAILCON’’.[v] There is an agreement between the Albanian Government and EBRD, to design a detailed project for the Tirana- Rinas – Durres Railroad and the financial/economic evaluation of the railroad network in the country. This is an agreement that aims to revive Albanian railroads and develop railroad transport. Therefore, ‘’Rail Consulting Joint Venture’’ will carry out the project.
Durres – Tirane line is the busiest one, as it connects two major cities in the country and ensures transfer to the biggest port of goods, Durres.
It should be emphasized that the Ministry does not give away any detail from this consulence contract. How much will it cost and what is the timeline for the project’s design? Not to forget that we could not find any information on the selected company. Who is “Rail Consulting Joint Venture”? Why was this company selected to design the project?
[i] Artikull: Mirëmbajtje dhe siguri rrugore, nënshkruhet huaja me Bankën Botërore
[ii] Artikull: Nënshkruhet Marrëveshja e Huasë me Bankën Botërore për financimin e Projektit “Mirëmbajtja dhe Siguria Rrugore Bazuar në Rezultate”
[iii] Artikull: Raport Mars 2015 – Ministria E Transportit Dhe Infrastrukturës
[iv] Tabela e pikëve për shkeljen e normave të sjelljes
[v] Artikull: Firmoset kontrata e Konsulencës me “JV RAILCON” për linjën hekurudhore Tiranë-Rinas-Durrës (http://www.transporti.gov.al/al/newsroom/lajme/firmoset-kontrata-e-konsulences-me-jv-railcon-per-linjen-hekurudhore-tirane-rinas-durres&page=1 )