Even on the ninth month of 2017, the Ministry of Justice has not yet managed to meet its obligation to Monitor, Process, Analyze, and Publish Statistical Data about the Judicial System for the previous year, i.e. 2016. Every first quarter of the year, this institution presents its Annual Statistical Report to the public. Such report contains statistical data about the progress made by the Courts, number of court cases, compliance of judges with the judicial deadlines, punishments given for certain groups of criminal offences, court proceedings by districts, etc. Such statistical data usually come in the form of a PDF publication, which serves the public, justice professional, journalists, and scientific researchers. In 2015, the publication methodology was enriched by a group of indicators about criminal offences related with corruption. The publication of this annual statistical report is an obligation according to the Law on the Organization of the Ministry of Justice and the relevant secondary legislation. AIS, as an organization promoting the right to information and transparency, addressed the Ministry of Justice, asking for an accessible statistical database for the justice system for 2016 and onwards. Transparency with the judicial statistical data becomes even more important now that the system is going through a vetting process. Similar delays with certain publications have also happened in other similar years before due to the Ministry reshuffling and change of the Minister of Justice.
AIS Study visit at LiA
Albanian Institute of Science is a small organization based in Tirana, Albania . AIS main focus in to use technologies in profit of the citizens. AIS is promotor of Open Data in Albania and first Hackathon organizer. Two of our members Besjana Hysa, Project Manager and Orsela Droja Youth Participation Activist represented AIS in this Study Visit.
Langas į ateitį ( Windows to the Future) an organization that aims to promote the use of Internet and e-services in Lithuania and hereby stimulate the growth of the standard of living, as well as Lithuania’s competitiveness among European and other countries of the world based in Vilnius Lithuania.
On the first day we got to visit Langas į ateitį offices and exchange a little bit of information about both our countries. For example both Albania and Lithuania has a population around 3 million citizens and Albania has 61 municipalities, only one more than Lithuania that has 60.
After exchange of some main information we got to work and share our project and work experiences. We got a lot of information in LiA main projects as:
Online services for a Lithuanian e-citizen, a project that took place in 2010-2012 and reached 259 participants. The project target groups were: unemployed, people with disabilities and rural population, which learnt to use computer, internet and e-services, representatives of more socially vulnerable groups are able to integrate more quickly into the community life and labour market and have more possibilities to study and communicate. The project was implemented together social partners: Lithuanian Labour Exchange, Society for the Physically Disabled of Lithuania, 35 municipal public libraries.
Use it and enjoy it. Project goal were to share experience with Scandinavian partners in the field of ICT training methodology for seniors, explore mmethodologies for adult education and facilitate its development. Result – best practice package „Engaging Seniors to use ICT.
Trans eScouts, Empowering eFacilitator intergenerational dialogue. The idea was to empower e-facilitators for intergenerational dialogue (ICT and life experience). Target audience were 16-25 youth and 55+ and partners in this project were 4 countries: Lithuania, Latvia, Croatia, They collaborate with Vilnius city libraries for developing this project . One of the libraries we visited on the second day.
Generation 0101 A project were where created Free Educational Materials in 6 Languages in 7 educational modules:- E-journalism, -Mobile application development, -Web design,- Community web radio,- Online collaboration tools for youth, -Easy coding,- Video.
Also we shared our experience for some of our projects as are :
Open Data Albania: The first AIS project, aimd to open as much Governmental Financal Data as we can related to Budget, assets of declarations , procurements and in the end companies that win governmental data.
Hackathons that we have held throug the years, in particular a Diplohack. A #DiploHack combines the specific know-how and skill sets of NGO’s, social entrepreneurs, tech developers and designers, and those of diplomats, journalists, and academics to ‘hack’ problems and come up with out-of-the-box solutions. Small teams comprised of a civil society representative, a diplomat, and a programmer will work together for 24 hours. This also got the interest of LiA colleagues and maybe soon they will have a Hackathon or Diplohack in Lithuania
As both organizations are part of All Digital and National Members of Get Online Week , discussion on the ideas, thematic and develops of GOW activities in each country were part of the discussions on the first day.
They are partners of National Digital Coalition of Lithuania, which its main goal is improving digital skills of the citizens in order to increase employment, this type of Coalitions it does not exist in Albania. They started working since 2002 and their one of their first projects was” Establishment of public internet access points”. This project lasted from 2002 to 2004Another interesting project is Youth Work HD, which consist on creating an online leaning space where the youth can develop skills and gain knowledge to improve their work or solve their problems. Also they created a website www.epilietis.eu which is in Lithuanian and helps citizens learn how to use different internet services like e-government, e-banking etc.
In the second part of the day we visited Rise Vilnius which was a workspace for the finance economic technology community. We registered and had a tour there. We were able to have a look at all the spaces and we really enjoyed it. Related also to the fact that our offices are rented in the first co-working space in Tirana. Most of the people working in our co-working space are IT and programmers not directly related with economic field but we already gather some good ideas of activities’ we can held in Tirana.
On the second day we visited RRT (COMUNICATIONS REGULATORY AUTHORITY OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA). There we were presented with their work: CERT-LT helps people solve their problem with internet security and threats, that contains : how to be safe in the cyberspace, and Safer Internet which consists on children being safe online. This is another institution that we do not have in Albania and that we see very important and needed. We talked also for alternative ways how to develop some alerts on internet security in Albania and definitely AIS will consider to be engaged more in this direction also during GOW.
And as I mention before, we also visited one of the libraries of the city which offers many services. The librarians are trained to work as e-facilitators. In the library you could borrow books, e-readers, cd etc. You could even learn how to use a computer, or other internet services there, no matter what age you are. You could use their 3D printer to make models or you could try their 3D glasses to watch animated versions of Lithuanian famous book characters or other animations. And of course internet is for free.
They train librarians so they can make possible the contact between the youth and 55+. So practically the youths teach the elderly how to use computers or develop their digital skills and the elderly share life experiences with the youth. And this was a totally different experience from what we have head in Tirana. Libraries here are very small, old and without internet access. We don’t have an electronic system for searching or borrowing books even in National Library. Not only enjoyed visiting the library but also we turned back in Tirana with the idea of writing a concept idea to the Municipality Council before they decide to renovate Tirana Libraries.
At the end we can say that this study visit was very important and successful for us. We did not only have a good time sharing our work experience and add some more important points in our Organizations agendas based on what we learned from each other but also got a possibility to visit some cultural spots. Hopefully we will have possibilities to work in a project together in the future.
Lezha Citizens’ Initiative published the corrupt contract. Money spent for missing services. Citizens have no water. The database of Open Procurement Albania includes information about a fictitious tender, including unequal treatment of participants and manipulation. Where does citizens’ money go? Why expensive contracts do not guarantee even basic services? What happened with the water supply plant of Troshan in Lezha? Lezha Citizen’s Movement advocates for solving the problem. Open Procurement and Spending Data Albaniapublish the history of corrupt contracts, where money is spent in a fictitious way.
THE INFAMOUS TENDER
The tender for the water supply of Troshan village was not very timing in the first place, as it took place exactly before the implementation of the Administrative Territorial Reform, i.e. when Mayors of Communes handed over their ‘keys’ to the Mayors of the emerging municipalities. It was exactly on 20.03.2015 when then-Commune of Blinisht announced a call for tenders (open tender procedure) on its website for the construction of the water supply system of Troshan village. The fund limit for the project was 83.146.690 lekë (VAT excluded) or 99.776.000 lekë (VAT included). About one month from the date the call was announced, the Commune of Blinisht opened the offers, and disqualified seven out of eight companies that participated in the process, accepting only the only and highest offer by “Alb Tiebfau” shpk.
Here is the offer made by each participating company:
1. “Kevin Construksion” sh.p.k. 52.612.453 lekë, disqualified
2. “Geci” sh.p.k. 63.496.191 lekë, disqualified
3. “Ndregjoni” sh.p.k. 65.398.597 lekë, disqualified
4. “Gjoka Konstruksion” sh.p.k. 69.920.900 lekë, disqualified
5. Joint offer by these economic operators “B – 93” sh.p.k. & “Be – Is”sh.p.k. 72.533.982 lekë, disqualified
6. “Alko Impex General Construction” sh.p.k. 75.638.592 lekë, disqualified
7. “Alb Tiefbau” sh.p.k. 82.946.690 lekë, qualified
8. “Gjergji” sh.p.k. 83.057.628 lekë, disqualified
Several complaints were made against this allegedly corrupt procedure, but they were all disregarded. One of the companies, the most ‘combative’ one, “Be – Is”sh.p.k, was actually disqualified for having a bank account balance of 18.522 lekë less than required, a criterion introduced by the Contracting Authority, the Commune in this case, for participants to have no less than 4.165.649 leke in their bank account. This falls contrary to the law, and the company complained to the public procurement commission, but its arguments were ignored. following the rejection of all complaints made, the contracted company started to build the plant, which, according to official records, finished in 2016. The municipality reports in its actual expenditures that the contracted project was more or less implemented for what was panned, i.e. a budget of 42.5 million lekë”. On the other hand, the Municipality emphasizes in its declaration that the supervision and final inspection of the plant, which was estimated to take 0.4 million lekë for that period, was not actually done, i.e. no money was spent on supervising and inspecting the implementation of the project. However, even though the Municipality spent no money on supervision of works and inspection of the final plant in 2016, it did contract two companies for exactly these services, one on 12 October 2015, with PALMA CONSTRUCION SHPK for 245 thousand lekë for the supervision of works for the construction of the plant (no payment seems to have been made, though, to the company so far), and another one for the final inspection of the completed plant on 2 December 2016 for 1950 lekë.
MONEY PAID IN YEARS
So far, the Municipality of Lezha does not seem to have made any payments for the supervision and inspection of works, but it has now taken over the plant, for which the state budget paid almost 70% of the total amount of money allocated to this project. According to the official documents, about 3.5 million lekë were paid during 2015-2016 to “Alb Tiefbau”, while 2.9 million in the first quarter of 2017, and there is a remaining 2.5 million leke to be paid.
WATER SUPPLY PLANT – OUT OF ORDER
If you look at the official documents, everything seems to be in order, and no one would know anything if it was not for the local people, who raised their voice about the plant being out of order. they first protested in January, and asked for an explanation for the lack of water. They even met the Mayor of Lezha then, Mr. Fran Frrokaj, who promised that he would solve the problem.
They waited for 6 months, but nothing changed. Today, tens of families from the village of Troshan protested in front of the municipality. “Even one year after 100 million leke paid for the construction of a water supply plan we do not have any water”, they say, because the construction does not comply with any technical parameters. They expect the state authorities to give a verification and solution. “The water depot they built could be anything but a depot. It could be for animals, but not for humans. More than 70 cm of its height is sludge”, said an inhabitant of Troshan. Another inhabitant said that the plant is built three times, and there is still no water.
DISCREAPANCIES BETWEEN OFFICIAL RECORDS AND REALITY
So, it turns out that the plant is built according to the official documents, but the inhabitants do not have any water. The responsibility falls on the Municipality, which took over the plant. This is even confirmed by a statement made by Municipality representatives.
“The municipality is not going to take over the new water supply plant of the Administrative Unit of Blinisht without first making sure that it does supply water to all the intended families”, said the Mayor of Lezha, Mr. Fran Frrokaj at a meeting with some representatives of the village on 31 January 2017. According to Frrokajt, the Municipality would establish a working group to verify the implementation of the project.
The Deputy Mayor, Mr. Enver Hafizi, confirmed today, on the other hand, that the Municipality had taken over the plant even though the implementation did not comply with the plan. “There might be problems with the project implementation, but as far as I know, the plant is taken over by the municipality against a one-year guarantee, a time within which we may intervene”, stated Hafizi. Next, he tries to blame illegal water connections. “One of the main reasons for the lack of water is the illegal water connections’, said the Deputy Mayor, promising that the municipality would intervene, sth that the Municipality must already have done by January this year.
NO WATER, AND WATER BILLS ARE STILL PAID
Nevertheless, this is not the end of this tragicomedy. Regardless of the municipality excuses, people say that they have never had drinking water, and that claims about illegal water connections are not acceptable as long as it was the municipality itself which inspected the construction before taking it over. What is even more tragic for them is that they are still charged for the water that they do not actually get.
High incomes made by selling immovable properties and pieces of art, several times more than the money made through salaries. This is what characterizes self-declarations of the high state officials for 2016. Their declarations are being published online and are accessible for journalists and the public at large under the Power and Money Section of the Spending Data Albania portal. The subjects, however, do not declare who the third parties are in these very profitable contracts. Their identity must be disclosed and be subject to public and institutional oversight to see whether there is conflict of interest involved.
Tenders without any competition, lack of competition, deadlines favoring clientelism, and unjustified increased contract values. Monitoring of public procurement in the 61 municipalities of the country shows risk of corruption in 655 tenders, equivalent of 10% of the contracts. More than 60 procurement procedures were marked by a RedFlag in April only. AIS will soon publish the municipality corruption risk index. This is the result of an evaluation of more than ten thousand contracts signed in two years from the municipalities and ranked according to the RedFlag given for the problematic contracts in terms of their quantities and values.
Vote buying, violation of the right to vote, people with criminal records leading electoral teams, and misuse of public institutions. These phenomena are common in the electoral processes in Albania already signaled and reported in the 2013 and 2015 elections in the Citizen Monitoring Platform Za’Lart Albania. Such phenomena are also expected to occur in the 2017 elections. The project of our organization for electoral citizens’ monitoring, in the other hand, is not yet sufficiently financed for this watchdog process. Citizens have the right to raise their voice about electoral irregularities. AIS urges donors to take into consideration our request for fundraising. The Za’Lart (Raised Voice) Team urges also organizations engaged in building the democratic culture, embassies and other donors to provide financial support to this project.
Data regarding assets and annual incomes of 22 District Chief Prosecutors were analyzed to identify their potential interests and economic connections. The prosecutors’ self-declarations are published under the Money and Power section, and the analysis is published as a separate article on Open Data AlbaniaSimilar analysis is done earlier for high-level judges, MPs andMayors The monitoring of their incomes and their comparison with their salaries, as well as the identification of any potential economic interests is important and timing on the eve of the ‘vetting’ process in the justice system. Money, Government and Politics is implemented by AIS in the framework of the MATRA for Rule of Law program supported by Embassy of the Netherlands in Albania
The Municipality of Divjaka in cooperation with AIS established Open Spending and Open Budget instruments. The budget tables for 2017 were visualized in an open data format, making it easier for everyone to trace, understand, and reuse information. In addition to its table of incomes and expenditures, the municipality visualised also its budget by its administrative units as part of its Transparency Program. Municipalities are required by law to develop their Budget Transparency Programs. PLGP/USAID Albania in cooperation with AIS had already provided the municipalities of Korça, Elbasan, Fier, Lushnjë, Berat, and Kuçova with instruments for open expenditures and budgeting.
AIS, together with The Embassy of the Netherlands in Albania, hosted the Hackathon Albania 2017 event. 30 participants
Albanian Institute of Science
Nr 13 /25, Kati 3