Public procurement for private interests
While the Ministry of Interior Affairs enjoyrs the ‘’huge’’ success of the Digital Police app, in inceasing fines for Albanian drivers, taxpayers money in this country go to the pockets of a few employees in this ministry.
Ironicallt, on June 1, Information Sheet number 21 of the Agency for Public Procurement contains in its first page a notification calling upon Albanian citizens to report abusive cases related to procurement. In it a phone number and an electronic address are made available to report such cases. As if this has produced any results so far.
Abuse of public funds is nor new nor limited to one institution in Albania. However, this month a big scandal involved the ministry. On June 25, the High State Audit, in an auditing conducted for September 2013 – December 2014, notifies that a damage of 607 500 Euros has been made to the state budget, due to using double standards in evaluating offers. Even though this was sent to the ministry during the first days of the month, there is no public reaction of the latter or its head regarding the accusations.
It has turned into a tradition by now for the ministry to publish disciplinary measures towards the employees that violate the law. But in such a grave incidents the response is silence. As a result of the auditing process 12 employees of the ministry were taken to the prosecutor’s office with charges of abuse of office. In the document of the High State Audit it is said that the proper documentation will be in the disposal of the country’s Prime Minister. While the latter has issued no public reaction related to the scandal that not only creates a burden to the state’s budget but goes along the line of losses the latter is subjected to due to abuse of duty and endemic corruption characterizing public administration in Albania.
Beyond the facts, who should be accountable for the incident? Only the people directly involved in the public procurement directory of this ministry, or the high officials as well, whose duty is to ensure professionalism and ethics in the institution they represent before the electorate who chose them in the position? It is a modus operandi now in Albania, that responsibility and fault remain orphan or lie somewhere else, something that has promoted lack of accountability and responsibility in leading state institutions.
Another strange fact related to public procurement is the fact that the ministry can process procurements for other institutions that have nothing to do with it. For example, at the beginning of June, in the Information Sheet of the Agency for Public Procurement, there is a notification from the Ministry of Internal Affairs related to printing systems concentrated for the Ministry of Defense; production of promoting materials for the Ombudsman; purchasing of equipment for the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth; purchasing of automobiles for the National Coast Agency; purchase of fuel for the Hospital Directory in Skrapar; purchasing cleaning materials for hospitals etc.
More in detail, a Decision of the Council of Ministers no. 28, dated 14.01.2015 the Ministry of Interior Affairs is selected as the responsible central body for purchasing the following categories (with respective exclusions)
- a) Automobiles;
- b) Fuel
- c) Office supplies
ç) Office equipment
- d) Cleaning materials
- dh) Uniforms
- e) Shoes
ë) Automobile parts for profilactic services with the exception of filters
- f) Toners;
- ag) Electronic equipment and telecommunication
- gj) Food and cooking services
- h) Auto insurance
- i) Cleaning services
- j) Painting of buildings
It seems this ministry is allowed to deal with a large burden of procurements for equipment and services for all state institutions. Although there is a legal basis that justifies the transfer of these responsibilities to the ministr, this has also created the opportunity for concentration of power and/or corruption in this institution.
The incident published at the beginning of the month, with the request for legal proceeding of 12 employees of this ministry, dealing exactly with what was described above, worsens even more the situation and increases the respknsibilities of the head of the institution towards open abuses of his employees with Albanian taxpayers money.
Following ironies of fate for Albanian state institutions, on June 5 MR. Bledi Cuci, national coordinator against corruption stated that: ‘’We also encourage the Prosecutor’s office to act tge same way with all denounciations made from the Government, for officials of the last 18 months and for officials of past government alike in any position and government level. The culture of impunity will not have a place in our government and the phenomenon will end once and for all.’’ Mr. Cuci is right in one point, when he refers to the culture of impunity that is at problematic levels in Albania. Beyond different cases that were referred to the court, no high official in Albania was ever charged for corruption even when proof has been undisputable and almost in the second half of the government mandate, this expression is still valid. There is more ‘’much ado about nothing’’ rather than concrete actions. As it is written in the Freedom House Report, charging high officials and judges for corruption and abuse of office remains rare’’. In the meantime the state’s budget continues to be ‘’poked’’ by irresponsible people, while the ultimate victim is the rest of society.
1- Kontrolli i Lartë i Shtetit. Qerhsor 2015. KLSH kallzon në prokurori drejtoreshën e Drejtorisë së Prokurimeve Publike të përqëndruara në Ministrinë e Punëve të Brendshme. Online: http://www.klsh.org.al/ëeb/KLSH_KALL_ZON_N_PROKURORI_DREJTORESH_N_E_DREJTORIS_S_PROKURIMEVE_PUBLIKE_T_P_RQ_NDRUARA_N_MINISTRIN_E_PUN_VE_T_BRENDSHMEDHE_11_PUNO_1456_1.php?kc=0,3,3,0,0
2- BalkanWeb. Qershor 2015. Abuzuan me tenderat: KLSH kallëzon në prokurori 12 zyrtarë të Ministrisë së Brendshme. Online: http://www.balkanëeb.com/site/abuzuan-me-tenderat-klsh-kallezon-ne-prokurori-12-zyrtare-te-ministrise-se-brendshme/
3- Vendim i Këshillit të Ministrave. Janar 2015. Vendim nr. 28 ‘’Për ngarkimin e Ministrisë së Punëve të Brendshme për kryerjen e procedurave të prokurimit publik në emër dhe për llogari të kryeministrit, ministrave dhe institucioneve të varësisë, për disa mallra e shërbime. Online: file:///Users/atom/Doënloads/19%20VENDIM%20NR.%2028%20DAT%C3%8B%2014.01.2015_NDRYSHUAR_VKM176_date_25.2.2015.pdf
4- Agjencia e Prokurimeve Publike. Qershor 2015. Buletini 21. Online: file:///Users/atom/Downloads/Buletini_Nr_%2021_date_01.06.15_perfundimtar.pdf
5- Freedom House. 2015. Freedom in the world 2015. Online: https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2014/albania#.VZBsJe2qqko