Event: Media dhe Parlamenti: Mbikëqyrja e Financave Publike dhe Raportimi i Buxhetit të Shtetit

AGJENDA

Event:
Media dhe Parlamenti: Mbikëqyrja e Financave Publike dhe Raportimi i Buxhetit të Shtetit

Organizator:
AIS, promotor i Open Data Albania

Projekti dhe Partneriteti:
“Rritja e përgjegjshmërisë së Parlamentit ndaj shqetësimeve të qytetarëve” një projekt i mbështetur nga Ambasada Britanike në Tiranë dhe zbatuar nga një konsorcium, i drejtuar nga IDM, në partneritet me Citizens Channel dhe AIS

Vendi:
Salla Praga, Hotel Rogner Tirana

Data:
Mars 29, 2024

 

Agjenda:

Kliko këtu

 

Workshop: With the participation of representatives from the Parliament and Supreme State Audit Administrations

Workshop:
With the participation of representatives from the Parliament and Supreme State Audit Administrations

About aspects on participation, monitoring, and dialogue with citizens during the drafting and reporting of public finances.

The workshop can also be considered as a follow-up to the previous event held on January 31, 2024, titled “Oversight of Public Finances, on the Role of Parliament, Institutions and Civil Society”.

Organizer:
AIS, promotor of Open Data Albania

Project and Partnership:
Increasing Parliament’s Responsiveness to Citizens’ Concerns, Project supported by the British Embassy in Tirana and implemented by a consortium led by IDM, in partnership with Citizens Channel and AIS

Venue:
Hotel Tirana Marriott, Vjosa Hall, 3rd Floor

Day:
March 1, 2024

 

Agenda:
Download here

 

Training: Civil Society and the role of the Parliament in the Drafting, Consultation and Approval Process of the State Budget

Training Agenda
Malësi e Madhe, March 08rd, 2024

Title:
Civil Society and the role of the Parliament in the Drafting, Consultation and Approval Process of the State Budget

Organized by:
AIS, promotor of Open Data Albania

Project and Partnership:
Increasing Parliament’s Responsiveness to Citizens’ Concerns, Project supported by the British Embassy in Tirana and implemented by a consortium led by IDM, in partnership with Citizens Channel and AIS.

Objective:
Building the capacities of CSOs, activists and local media to contribute in the planning of the state budget and public spending policies

Area:
Districts of Lezhë; Dibër; Shkodër; Kamzë; Kukës; Tiranë; Malësi e Madhe

Target group:
Representatives of Civil Society; Activists and Local Journalists

Project Preview
With the support of the British Embassy in Tirana, the Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM) in partnership with Citizens Channel and the Albanian Institute of Sciences (AIS), will implement the project “Increasing the responsiveness of the Parliament to citizens’ concerns”. This project aims to strengthen the Parliament’s efforts to foster an enabling environment for inherent engagement of citizens in the policy and legislative processes in the country, as a means of promoting public interest and building trust in the institution.

Activity Preview
The Training, aims two of the targeted districts, aims to increase the capacities of civil society, allowing them to improve their understanding of the Budgeting process and enable their participation in the Budgeting cycle in the Parliament. The training aims to strengthen comprehension and monitoring skills in regards to the Drafting, Approval and Reporting Process of the State Budget in the Parliament, as well as raise responsiveness and participation capabilities during the phases of Planning and Approval of the State Budget and policies concerning Public Finances. Another aims of the training is to inform about the existing legal instruments who allow for participation, proposals or hearings in the Parliamentary Committees.

Target group:
Representatives of Civil Society; Activists and Local Journalists.

Agenda: Download here

AIS’ concerns about the Project Law on Amendments to the Public Procurement Law, noting inconsistencies with the SAA and potential risk of corruption.

Dear Friends, 

On February 8, 2024, the Parliament will vote on a Project Law on Amendments to the Public Procurement Law No. 162/2020 during a plenary session.

Being familiar with the project of the law, currently under review in the Parliamentary Committees this week, AIS expresses strong concern regarding two aspects of the project legislation:

Please find attached the letter from the AIS Organization addressed to the Parliament (and respective committees).

Opposure. Draft Law on Amendments to the Public Procurement Law

  1. Article 48, point 2, makes the law highly susceptible to corruption and introduces the potential for contracts with a risk of abuse. Consequently, this article contradicts the Stabilization Association Agreement, specifically Article 74.
  1. The Project Law, initiated by the Albanian Government, envisions interventions for an Integrated Electronic System for Public Procurement. However, the accompanying Explanatory Report to the Project Law has not anticipated the financial costs of the intervention. The Parliament cannot approve a law without accurate financial forecasts from the Government (Ministry of Finance).

Therefore, AIS has submitted a written request to the Parliament, urging the removal of Article 48, point 2, from the Project Law. According to our analysis for corruption-proofing of legislation, this article poses a high risk.

Content of Article 48, Transitional Provisions, point 2: Within a period of 3 years from the entry into force of this law, the Council of Ministers may authorize state/public administration institutions at the central level to negotiate and conclude international consultancy agreements within the scope of their competence, pertaining to areas of strategic interest, including the application of artificial intelligence, cyber security, critical infrastructure, and the fight against organized crime and corruption.

Additionally, this Project Law should not proceed to the Plenary Session on February 8 without being accompanied by a detailed Explanatory Report from the Ministry of Finance regarding financial costs. Furthermore, a thorough examination of the issues conflicting with the SAA should be conducted in advance.

It is recommended to the Parliament that, prior the Final Review during the Session, it initiates and seeks a Consultative Meeting with organizations serving as Business Associations, as well as those engaged in the areas of the Rule of Law, European Integration, and Transparency.

The AIS organization, known as Open Data Albania, has previously participated in the Public Consultation process of the Albanian Government for this Project Law (June-September 2023). LINK

 

Best regards,

Aranita BRAHAJ

Director of AIS / Open Data Albania

Event: Oversight of Public Finances. On the Role of Parliament, Institutions and Civil Society

Organizer: AIS, promotor of Open Data Albania

Project and Partnership: Increasing Parliament’s Responsiveness to Citizens’ Concerns, Project supported by the British Embassy in Tirana and implemented by a consortium led by IDM, in partnership with Citizens Channel and AIS

Agenda: Download here

Opening and Welcoming Speech

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  • Mrs. Aranita Brahaj – AIS’ Executive Director
  • Mr. Sam Goldbart, First Secretary, Justice, Political and Homme Affairs British Embassy Tirana
  • Mr. Gjergji Vurmo, IDM Representative
  • Moderator: Mrs. Matilda Duri
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Panel no. 1

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Parliamentary Oversight of Public Finances and the Supreme State Audit Institution 

  • Expert – Prof. Lindita Lati Milo
  • Presentation of the Policy Paper: Findings and Recommendations
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Positions over the PP’s Findings and Recommendations

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Mr. Eduard Shalsi  
Chairman of the Committee for Economy and Finance

  • Mrs. Jorida Tabaku
  • Chairman of the Committee for European Affairs and Member of the Committee for Economy and Finance
  • Mr. Gjovalin Preci
  • Director of State Budget Audit Department, Supreme State Audit
  • Questions and Discussion

Panel no. 2

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Parliament and its Role in the Oversight of the Fiscal Policy. State Budget Drafting, Supervision and Reporting Processes

  • Expert – Prof. Petraq Milo
  • Presentation of the Report: Oversight Role of the Parliament. Findings and Recommendations
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Positions over the Report’s Findings and Recommendations 

  • Mrs. Pranvera Resulaj
  • Member of the Committee for Economy and Finance
  • Ms. Emilja Koliqi
  • Member of the Committee for Economy and Finance
  • Questions and Discussion 

The document part of the activities of the AIS organization for the Oversight of Public Finances – The Role of Parliament, Institutions and Civil Society LINK

Objective: In this event, through the presentation of the Policy Papers and Report, we aim to bring to attention findings and recommendations on aspects related to the role of the Parliament, its cooperation with institutions or other civil actors to ensure better processes for drafting, consultation and monitoring of the State Budget and Public Finances.

Likewise, during the discussions, we would like to create space for debate and exchange of arguments between high-level representatives from the Parliament, Constitutional Institutions, Ministry of Finance, Civil Society, and the Media.

Venue: Hotel Tirana Marriott, Bylis Hall, 3rd Floor

Day: January 31, 2024

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Supporting Public Procurement Best Practice and Instil a Watchdog Culture, Open Contracting in Albania

The Public Procurement sector represents risk number “One” for government corruption, with 30% of public expenditures allocated through tenders. AIS plays a crucial role in advancing Open Tendering Standards and strengthening the Watchdog model. The Open Procurement Database serves as a transparency and accountability instrument in tendering process. Passports containing information on all tendering phases are accessible for the Local Governments LGUHealth sector, Albanian Road Authority ARRSH, Albanian Development Fund and Public Companies. Simultaneously, a risk assessment algorithm and RedFlag marking scan and publish in real-time tenders with problematic competition and bids. Similarly, data on contract concentration in a few businesses or the application of the Limited Procedure in over 25% of annual public tender values are readily available in published articles. AIS has litigated in court against Special Legislation for emergencies in cases of Natural Disasters beyond the deadlines of the State of Emergency. AIS is recently participating in Public Consultation for Legal Changes aimed at sector digitization. Initiated by the Albanian Government in June 2023, the initial draft potentially addressed the necessity for interventions and the assurance of equality and transparency principles. AIS will persist in its participation in the Consultation, now in the parliamentary process of the Law. The ongoing objectives include supporting Best Practices, strengthening the Watchdog Culture in tendering, and promoting Open Contracting Partnership standards and principles.

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Media Businesses – Increased Profits in Election Years. Economic Power of Media Owners, Interests in licensed sectors, and state contracting

Open Data Albania has published an analytical article providing information on annual revenue and profits of Television Media Businesses. The data reveals higher profits and revenues in the electoral year of 2021 compared to preceding or subsequent years. Earlier, ODA released a report on the Economic Power of Audiovisual Media Owners, emphasizing that individual owners in TV companies own 10 to 39 other companies. Their connections and interests revolve around Building Permits, Public Licenses, PPP Concession Contracts, Strategic Investor Status, or Benefits from the Albania 1- Euro Program. Involvement in sectors with significant economic returns, which include licenses, subsidies, permits, or contracts with authorities, exposes the media sector to conflicts of interest and dependency, including political parties, thereby, posing a risk to media freedom and editorial independence. Analytical articles covering the Media Sector, economic power, revenues, profits, and ownership structures are integral components of the project titled “Open Data Project, Access and Transparency over sectors exposed to Risk of Corruption 2021-2023, a project supported financially by the Sweden International Development Cooperation Agency.

Registry of Magistrates – Improve Access and Public Trust in Justice, Integrity after Vetting

The organization AIS presented the project “Access to Justice – Albanian Register of Magistrates” at a regional event in December with a focus on Knowledge and Idea Exchange for Open Governance. Alongside NDI Montenegro, activists and officials gathered in Budva to delve into various models and initiatives related to Open Governance. The Mine of Data, the Registry of Magistrates, showcases Passports containing information and documents for each judge and prosecutor, encompassing even those associated with the new Justice Institutions. Owners of the database have noted a substantial interest from citizens accessing profiles of judges and prosecutors who are involved in investigations related to corrupt activities among high officials, some already under investigation or facing accusation. The Registry of Magistrates is a project activity implemented with the financial support of the Commission for Democracy’s Small Grants Program at the US Embassy in Tirana. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this project are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the State Department. Project activities encompass the creation of a Policy Paper on Legal Regulations and Practices for Access to Information within the new Justice Institutions.

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Conference on Exchanging Knowledge and Ideas for Open and Transparent Governance – AIS presents the Justice Access database as an inspiring model for OGP in the Region

Justice Access – The Magistrates’ Registry is the latest database created by the AIS organization promoting open data for Albania.

The Data Mining Magistrate’s Register is designed to increase access and public trust in the Critical Reform in the Judicial System.

At the invitation of the National Democratic Institute NDI Montenegro, this Civil Society Initiative for Improving Access, Control, and Public Trust in Justice was presented on December 8 at an International Learning Event focusing on the exchange of knowledge and experiences regarding the Open Government Partnership (OGP).

Project Director Aranita Brahaj explained how AIS has contributed by creating this essential instrument to improve public access, control, and trust in the Justice Reform and Justice Institutions, probing into the integrity of Magistrates after the Reform.

The Magistrates’ Registry involves creating a Passport with data and documents for each judge, prosecutor and justice official.

The information provides public access to familiarize themselves with the profile, integrity, career, performance, and aspects of professionalism, ensuring control over the integrity of the Magistrates.

Similarly, profiles have been established for the new institutions of justice, where the catalogue displays all decisions and documents related to the institution and decision-making.

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Every day, citizens click on the Passports of judges and prosecutors investigating corrupt affairs of high-ranking officials already under accusation. Beneficiaries of Enhanced Access to Magistrates’ and Justice Institutions’ Data and Documents include media representatives, justice system employees, academics, organizations, and the general public.

As part of the activities of this project, AIS has prepared a Policy Paper on Legal Regulations and Practices that the new institutions of justice have established regarding access. This policy document reviews current practices and provides conclusions and recommendations for the future.

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The Magistrates’ Registry is an activity of the project with the financial support of the Commission for Democracy’s Small Grants Program in the US Embassy in Tirana. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the State Department.

Four years after the Earthquake. The government has no concrete results in mitigating its consequences. Problems with the Budget, corrupt tenders and serious cases of abuse

Four years after the Earthquake of November 26, 2019 and its severe Consequences in human life, housing and infrastructure, AIS finds that the State and the Albanian Government cannot make an inventory of where we are in dealing with its consequences and rehabilitation.

November 2023 There is no Clear Report on:

  • the number of families provided with housing through the Reconstruction Program
  • Reconstructed public works,
  • Families treated with individual grants,
  • Progress in reconstruction for these cases or
  • completed public works.

Similarly, AIS/Open Data Albania finds that the Budgetary Discipline for the Financing of this Project is a missing process where no planning, granting, contracting, allocation and implementation data are reconciled.

Neither the Government, nor any of the 11 affected Municipalities guarantee a deadline for the Finalization of the Reconstruction Program after the Consequences of the Earthquake.

AIS, an organization also known as Open Data Albania has carefully monitored and raised awareness about issues with this program. In the same way, it has been litigated against the clientelistic law in violation of the constitutional rights, the special law through which Contractual Businesses were designated in the reconstruction.

4 years after the Earthquake and the announcement of the Program, we are sharing with you some findings and evidence on the mismanagement of the Reconstruction Program, specifically:

  • on February 17, 2020, the Albanian Government presented at the Donors’ Conference in Brussels held by the European Commission, the need for Aid for the Reconstruction Program after the earthquake with a cost of over 1 billion Euros.
  • In this conference, Donors and states, based on financial requests for recovery, promised aid and credit for Albania as a State affected by an Earthquake in the amount of 1.15 billion euros or about 140 billion Lek. See Link
 
 
  • In the fourth budget year of this program 2023, AIS/Open Data Albania finds that the State Budget has consolidated until March 2023 only 75 billion lek (16.6 billion in 2022; 29.5 billion in 2021; 28.9 billion in 2022, and only 5 billion Lek in 2023).
  • The absurdity is that in the meantime, through 11 municipalities and the Albanian Development Fund, the Government has announced Public Procurements and Winners for 856 tenders with a total fund limit of 96.65 billion ALL, where 84.69 billion ALL result from contracts.
  • The difference in Reconciliation becomes deeper by analyzing that apart from Public Procurement, the Reconstruction Program has distributed 11.5 billion ALL in individual grants.
  • Individual Grant plus Public Procurement require about 108.15 billion, while the State Budget without detailing the works and objects of this Program gives only 75 billion. Another 7 billion is planned for 2024. A difference still remains and none of the Ministers of Finance who have exercised their duties in this period have made explanations in Parliament for such Budgetary Discrepancies. Link
 
  • Corrupt Reconstruction Law. AIS has previously asked the Constitutional Court to annul the Normative Act of December 2019 through which the Government decided to make a non-detailed Budget of Investments and Contracts for the Reconstruction program. The law created different procedures from the Public Procurement Legislation and established contracts with Limited Procedures, shortened deadlines and table bidding (outside the electronic tendering system). For AIS, this law limits economic freedoms as constitutional freedoms and makes the process clientelistic.
  • The lawsuit in the Constitutional Court, prepared by AIS, was joined by 28 Opposition MPs, but the Constitutional Court in the period 2021-2022 did not function with a full judicial body. Out of 7 judges, 4 Voted for the repeal of the Corrupt Law. At least 5 judges need to agree for the law to be repealed by the Constitutional Court. Read more Constitutional Control over Corrupt Laws, Vacancies of several years in the Constitutional Court bring Serious Consequences for the Prevention of Corruption by Law – Albanian Institute of Science (ais.al)
  • On the eve of the 2021 elections, Public Procurement was deepened with limited Problematic Procedures and outside the electronic system, where the emphasis was on Contracting for the Reconstruction Program.
 
 
  • Individual Grants for Reconstruction were given through the State Treasury to Individuals who had minor damage to their Homes. Decision-making for distribution and payments through Treasury Transactions were made prominently on election dates, especially in April 2021. AIS informed the CEC about this Misuse of Public Funds during the electoral period. The administrative investigation of the Chairman of the Electoral Commission and KAS did not clearly refer to the need for investigation and punishment for such cases. Read more
 
     
   
   
 
  • Among the contracting companies, they managed to penetrate businesses with problems and owned by people announced as internationally wanted for drug trafficking Link
 
 

AIS Open Data Albania expresses concern for the lack of seriousness with the financial transparency of the Post-Earthquake Reconstruction Program and the need for a fairer legal regulation for the handling of emergency cases and programs for the implementation of needs after Natural Disasters.

 
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The database for the Reconstruction Municipality and the Albanian Fund for Development ADF are a product for transparency Created by AIS / Open Data Albania