1. The OSCAR ceremony of Construction Permit distribution
According to the law ‘’On legalization, urbanization and integration of illegal constructions’’, distributing construction permits falls under the competencies of ALUIZNI, after the property has been registered in the Office for the Registration of Immovable Properties. In the official website of the Ministry of Urban Development and in various media chronicles, for several months the public was faced with ceremonies organized in different cities, where citizens are distributed publicly construction permits either from Prime Minister Rama, Ms. Gjermeni, head of the Ministry of Urban Development or from Mr. Artan Lame, Director of ALUIZNI. In this respect we would like to congratulate the fact that respective institutions are continuing to pay attention to construction, to improve the city or to legalize illegal buildings, which should give a new face to urban spaces and open the way for well thought urban plans that respect modern urban standards.
On the other hand, the organization of so many ceremonies to distribute permits stands out where only this month we can mention the ones organized in Kukes, Tirana and Paskuqan, while this is a normal public policy that each government owes its citizens. In our country this has transformed into an Oscar event, where citizens instead of going to the responsible institutions, have to take part in a charade organized for political gains and serve the politicians to strengthen their positions.
Prime Minister Rama especially has a weak point for figures, that no one can prove, of how much progress it is being done compared to the previous government in handing out construction permits for illegal objects. This creates a general feeling that the government is making a favor to citizens, not just performing its duties.
Instead of ‘’ceremonial’’ public policies and quantitative evaluations, we would like to have a balance sheet that details how this process went in qualitative terms, what were the difficulties and is the law functional. At the end of the day the question comes naturally how our government will manage to syncronize legalization of illegal objects with the planned rimodeling of public spaces, that in principle exclude informality.
2- Responsibility to the law? Not in our country!
To continue what was analyzed above, and to also expand the encountered problem, we would like to evidence that neither the government, nor the Ministry of Urban Development or the National Inspectorate for the Protection of Territory, have not disclosed the undertaken measure towards institutions and heads at the local and central level, who have given construction permits in contravention to the law.
To illustrate this we will take the most recent example in the public’s memory: the demolition of a five-story building next to the Faculty of Economy in Tirana. In the documents published recently, it was visible that the current Prime Minister, at the time Mayor of Tirana, was the one to have signed the construction permit. It seems the publication of these documents did not concern the latter at all and the Ministry of Urban Development did not mention or address the fact in its official website or through other public communications.
What is the message in this case? That the law only applies to citizens (this is a government that sends you to prison for unpaid electricity bills)? Who is responsible in this case for the economic and environmental damage or even just for the law infringement, foreseen by article 248 of the Criminal Code? Furthermore, who is responsible for damages caused from the demolition of these objects, that in the case of the building close to the Faculty of Economy, it is evaluated to cost taxpayers’ around 150 000 lek, excluding the aesthetically ugly space left behind?
3- Everyone wants a piece of success
For several months now civil society together with citizens from Tirana have regularly protested in front of the Prime Minister’s office against the decision of the Municipality to grant construction permit to build towers near the Artificial Lake of Tirana. After the denounciation by INUK the case was referred to the First Instance Court and the Administrative Appeals Court, which decided on 28 May to suspend construction works. Naturally, questions raised above on the legal responsibility remain as we do not believe the Prime Minister will accuse Mr. Basha for misuse of duty only because the latter has done exactly what the former did during his time as Mayor of Tirana. On the other hand there are voices that more constructions are planned around the Lake, a 15 story building in front of the History Faculty and other constructions along the academy of Arts complex or at the beginning of the lake, constructions for the existence of which the public is entirely in the dark.
Mr. Veliaj hurried up to benefit from this decision, who accreddited the merit to the government’s strategy, forgetting to mention the role of citizens and civil society that formed the spontaneous movement ‘’Stop construction at the Lake’’. What strikes us is the fact that once again abiding to the law is treated as the will of the government, instead of being the norm. We are curious to know what would Mr. Veliaj say if the decision of the Appeals Administrative court had reinforced the decision of First Instance court?
To conclude this month’s report, we want to stress that problems related to legal/illegal constructions are fundamentally linked to the problem of property and property rights in Albania and without a solution to the latter, it is difficult to have success with the former. The fact that in the next meeting of the Council of Stabilisation and Association EU-Albania, the latter has given specific recommendations related to property rights, suggests that the European Union is well aware of the above mentioned problems and also knowing the issue is related to human rights, a special emphasis was placed in the recommendation to appoint the National Coordinator for Property Rights.
1- Ligji “Për legalizimin, urbanizimin dhe integrimin e ndërtimeve pa leje http://www.parlament.al/web/pub/ligj_nr_50_dt_15_5_2014_17639_1.pdf
6- Ligji mbi Shpërdorimin e detyrës