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Albania

Commitment to Open Standards for Contracting (AL0051)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Albania Third Action Plan 2016 – 2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Economic Development, Trade, Tourism and Entrepreneurship

Support Institution(s): Concession Treatment Agency; AIS

Policy Areas

Access to Information, Anti-Corruption, E-Government, Fiscal Openness, Open Contracting and Public Procurement, Open Data, Private Sector, Public Procurement, Publication of Budget/Fiscal Information

IRM Review

IRM Report: Albania End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, Albania Progress Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

AIS organization is as an organization that promotes open data and transparency, simultaneously engaged as a member of the Coalition for Open Government Partnership for Albania. In this term, AIS proposed several commitments to the Government and its partners, to be included in the 2016-2018 national action plan, including: online publication of concession and PPP contracts in which the GoA is part. The governmental institution engaged in this commitment is the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade, Tourism and Entrepreneurship. The Albanian government is engaged in the use of open standards for contracting. This is a current trend of the efforts of nations and stakeholders to access information on public contracts and the way they proceed to their finalization. The Concessionaire Register has to be built on the basis of the Law on Concessions and PPP, and DCM is deemed delivering in an open data format by also ensuring trade or intellectual secret. The Concession Treatment Agency has undertaken this commitment to create the Electronic Registry of Concessions and Public Private Partnership pursuant to Law No. 125/2013, as amended, and the Council of Ministers Decision Nr. 211 dated 16.03.2016 "On the establishment and administration of the Electronic Registry of Concessions / PPP". This institution is currently collecting data on all contracts and PPP concession by all contracting authorities in the Republic of Albania. The database that will be created as a result of this commitment will be public and accessible to all. Status quo or problem addressed by the commitment Currently there is contrats on concessions, PPP contracts are not published online in their entirety. Main Objective The Albanian government is engaged in the use of open standards for contracting. This is a current trend of the efforts of nations and stakeholders to access information on public contracts and the way they proceed to their finalization. The Concessionaire Register is to be built on the basis of the Law on Concessions and PPP, and DCM is deemed delivering in an open data format by also ensuring trade or intellectual secret. The Concession Treatment Agency has undertaken this commitment to create the Electronic Registry of Concessions and Public Private Partnership pursuant to Law No. 125/2013, as amended, and the Council of Ministers Decision Nr. 211 dated 16.03.2016 "On the establishment and administration of the Electronic Registry of Concessions / PPP". This institution is currently collecting data on all contracts and PPP concession by all contracting authorities in the Republic of Albania. The database that will be created as a result of this commitment will be public and accessible to all. This institution is currently collecting data on all contracts, PPP and concessions by all contracting authorities in the Republic of Albania. The database that will be created as a result of this commitment will be public and accessible to all.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

8. Electronic registry of concessions

Commitment Text:

Title: Open standards for contracting, public contracts to be published in open data format

AIS organization is as an organization that promotes open data and transparency, simultaneously engaged as a member of the Coalition for Open Government Partnership for Albania. In this term, AIS proposed several commitments to the Government and its partners, to be included in the 2016-2018 national action plan, including: online publication of concession and PPP contracts in which the GoA is part.

The governmental institution engaged in this commitment is the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade, Tourism and Entrepreneurship.

The Albanian government is engaged in the use of open standards for contracting. This is a current trend of the efforts of nations and stakeholders to access information on public contracts and the way they proceed to their finalization. The Concessionaire Register has to be built on the basis of the Law on Concessions and PPP, and DCM is deemed delivering in an open data format by also ensuring trade or intellectual secret. The Concession Treatment Agency has undertaken this commitment to create the Electronic Registry of Concessions and Public Private Partnership pursuant to Law No. 125/2013, as amended, and the Council of Ministers Decision Nr. 211 dated 16.03.2016 'On the establishment and administration of the Electronic Registry of Concessions / PPP'.

This institution is currently collecting data on all contracts and PPP concession by all contracting authorities in the Republic of Albania. The database that will be created as a result of this commitment will be public and accessible to all.

Responsible institution: Ministry of Economic Development, Trade, Tourism and Entrepreneurship/ Concession Treatment Agency

Supporting institution: Albanian Institute of Science – AIS

Start date: 2016 End date: 2018

Context and Objectives

Corruption is a serious problem in Albania, and more than two-thirds of the public believe that nothing that can done to reduce corruption.[Note90: Shadow Power, http://seldi.net/fileadmin/public/PDF/Publications/RAR_2016/
SHADOW_POWER_EN_FINAL.pdf. ]
In the past few years several corruption allegations related to public private partnerships (PPPs) and concessions have been raised by the media and civil society organizations (e.g. concessions on hydropower plants, mining industry, healthcare services).[Note91: Corruption allegations, https://www.reporter.al/prokuroria-nis-hetimet-per-koncesionet-multimilioneshe-te-beqajt/. ] The lack of transparency and integrity regarding concessions and PPPs have become serious concerns. Publishing contracts about concessions and related information in an open data format will significantly improve access to information, public oversight and integrity of institutions involved in approving and managing concessions and PPPs.

This commitment aims to make use of open standards for contracting in the establishment by the Concession Treatment Agency of a Concessionaire register, based on the Law on Concessions and PPP (i.e. Law No. 125/2013, as amended, and the Council of Ministers Decision No. 211 dated 16.03.2016 'On the establishment and administration of the Electronic Registry of Concessions / PPP'). The Agency is currently collecting data on all contracts and PPP concessions by all contracting authorities in Albania. The subsequent database will be held to open data standards and will be public and accessible to all. Because this commitment outlines its objective and a verifiable deliverable, its specificity is medium.

If fully implemented, this commitment may have a moderate potential impact. The Registry is a step forward to improve transparency, accountability, and public integrity. Civil society stakeholders interviewed by the IRM researcher have reported high expectations from this commitment, especially in fighting corruption and improving transparency of government. Additionally, it serves EU accession reforms, aligning the country closer to EU membership.

By making use of ICT tools (electronic registry) for greater transparency and accountability this commitment advances OGP values of access to information by making public key data and information about approved concessions and PPPs. However, this commitment does not include a public accountability mechanism. Other than an increase in available data on concessions, there is no evidence that this registry would guarantee civil society or stakeholder monitoring of the procedures, concessions and public benefit from PPPs. A truly transformative commitment would include an accountability feature or disclosure of information on beneficial ownership on the concession and contracting processes while they are taking place, and not just when completed.

Completion

The Registry of Concessions and PPPs was launched at the end of 2016 by the Agency of Concessions Treatment.[Note92: To access the Registry, http://www.atrako.gov.al/?page_id=112. ] No consultations with civil society, media, or other interest groups were carried out on the implementation of this OGP commitment. As of writing, not all contracts are published on the registry and the provided information is not in open data format. Consequently, the Registry did not produce the desired results, nor did it offer more transparency on the granted concessions. Various media outlets, and civil society groups such as Open Data Albania continue to raise concerns over the lack of information on concessions and PPPs.[Note93: Open data, http://open.data.al/sq/lajme/lajm/lang/sq/id/1953/titull/.
Pesekoncesionetefshehtateqeverisegjatekohessezgjedhjeve/Pese-koncesionet-e-fshehta-te-qeverise-gjate-kohes-se-zgjedhjeve. ]
While still on schedule, it is unlikely the government will be able to fully implement this commitment by June 2018. Finally, it is important to note that the Albanian Institute of Science (AIS) was not involved in this commitment, despite being listed as a supporting institution in the action plan.

Early Results

The Registry of Concessions and PPPs does not publish information in open data format, as envisioned by this commitment. AIS Director Aranita Brahaj points out that there is no methodology of the Registry and one has to visit multiple portals. For example, one has to visit the Public Procurement Registry to obtain information on the procedure of the specific PPP or concession. Otherwise, one must go to the National Business Registry to obtain information on changes of the status of concessionaires, or other government institutions to obtain information on the performance of concessions (taxes paid, profit made etc.).[Note94: Interview with Aranita Brahaj, October 2017.]

Next Steps

The Registry did not publish all contracts nor did it publish information in open data format. In addition to continuing implementation, the public also needs to be aware of the progress of concessions, how much the state is paying, how much the concessioner is paying, public benefit, and other information. In other words, the scope of information published should be expanded. Moving forwards, the IRM researcher recommends the Public Procurement Agency (PPA) consider the following steps, in cooperation with the Council of Ministers:

· Increase the number and quality of datasets for each concession and PPP;

· Carry out consultations with civil society, media and other interest groups to improve the current Registry and in continuity;

· Improve the Registry of Concessions and PPPs by publishing all contracts in open data format in accordance with Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS);

· Link the Registry to the Public Procurement Commission’s complaint process; and

· Strengthen the e-procurement performance and compliance monitoring system and provide for public reporting and monitoring of performance.

The IRM researcher also suggests that recommendations from the 2016 European Commission progress report also be included in the next action plan. The report touches on the following issues:

· Albania needs to further harmonize with EU public procurement rules, including recommendations on a contract registry for all public contracts and improvements in the processes of concession award and management and defense procurement;

· There is a lack of necessary human resources at concessions treatment agency in the Ministry of Economy and Trade (only 12 employees).[Note95: EC Report on Albania 201, page 37, https://ec.europa.eu/neighbourhood-enlargement/sites/near/files/pdf/key_documents/2016/20161109_report_albania.pdf. ]

· Further approximation of the legal framework and improvement of related bylaws regulating the Registry should address civil society concerns over the usability of Registry’s information and the extent of information provided at the portal. Such amendments should include aspects related to format of information (in open data), type of information (e.g. revenues, collected taxes) and other aspects which are not specified and which would make a real difference.[Note96: In October 2017, the Registry included nearly 15 concessions, with over 2/3 of them before 2015.]

IRM End of Term Status Summary

8. Electronic registry of concessions

Commitment Text:

Title: Open standards for contracting, public contracts to be published in open data format

AIS organization is as an organization that promotes open data and transparency, simultaneously engaged as a member of the Coalition for Open Government Partnership for Albania. In this term, AIS proposed several commitments to the Government and its partners, to be included in the 2016-2018 national action plan, including: online publication of concession and PPP contracts in which the GoA is part.

The governmental institution engaged in this commitment is the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade, Tourism and Entrepreneurship.

The Albanian government is engaged in the use of open standards for contracting. This is a current trend of the efforts of nations and stakeholders to access information on public contracts and the way they proceed to their finalization. The Concessionaire Register has to be built on the basis of the Law on Concessions and PPP, and DCM is deemed delivering in an open data format by also ensuring trade or intellectual secret. The Concession Treatment Agency has undertaken this commitment to create the Electronic Registry of Concessions and Public Private Partnership pursuant to Law No. 125/2013, as amended, and the Council of Ministers Decision Nr. 211 dated 16.03.2016 "On the establishment and administration of the Electronic Registry of Concessions / PPP".

This institution is currently collecting data on all contracts and PPP concession by all contracting authorities in the Republic of Albania. The database that will be created as a result of this commitment will be public and accessible to all.

Responsible institution: Ministry of Economic Development, Trade, Tourism and Entrepreneurship/ Concession Treatment Agency

Supporting institution(s): Albanian Institute of Science – AIS

Start date: 2016.................... End date: 2018

Commitment Aim:

This commitment aimed to improve access to information and public oversight of public procurement, by establishing an electronic Registry of Concessions and Public Private Partnerships (Concessionaire Register). The register was intended to gather data on all concession and PPP contracts in Albania and produce a publicly accessible database.

Status

Midterm: Limited

The Registry of Concessions and PPPs was launched at the end of 2016 by the Concession Treatment Agency. [47] No consultations with civil society, media, or other interest groups were carried out on the implementation of this OGP commitment. As of writing the midterm report, not all contracts had been published on the registry and the provided information was not in open data format. Consequently, the registry did not offer more transparency on the granted concessions. Various media outlets and civil society groups, such as Open Data Albania, had raised concerns over the lack of information on concessions and PPPs. [48]

End of term: Substantial

Over the past year, the Concession Treatment Agency created a database which contained 235 concessions as of October 2018. [49] In 2017 only 15 concession contracts were available on the portal. More than 90 percent of the entries on the electronic registry include information about concessions and their contracts, and the other 10 percent include information about amendments to the existing contracts for concessions. The vast majority of published concessions are those which have been contracted prior to 2013, while about 20 percent of them date between 2014 and 2018.

The electronic registry includes data on the date of signing of the concession, type of contract, invested amount, tariff, length (in years), operation area (sector), price, location, and brief description, and signatory parties (private and state actors). Attached to each entry, the signed contract of the concession is also published. The registry includes separate reports (data presented in charts) offering disaggregated data about signed concessions according to sectors, [50] year of signing, [51] contracting authority, [52] private sector operators (to whom concession was awarded), [53] invested amount, [54] and a price versus investment comparison. [55] However, the information presented is not in open data format as envisioned by the action plan.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Marginal

Although publishing information on more than 200 concessions represents a major development, little is known to the public and interested stakeholders (e.g. media, civil society) about the total value of concessions and their performance annually – e.g. taxes paid, profits, public benefit and so on. The same happens with PPPs: how much Albanians are to pay in PPPs, or through which procedure they were awarded. The World Bank underlined the above, in April 2018, and several other concerns related to PPPs in Albania, urging the government to strengthen their transparency, integrity of procedures, corruption risks, how they are assessed, and management of their implementation, including their monitoring and other issues of concern. [56] The International Monetary Fund also raised serious concerns regarding PPPs in Albania earlier that year, advising the government to act carefully with its program of one billion EUR. [57]

Although the media can use the data published in the electronic registry, effective monitoring would require the portal to have more useful and up-to-date data published by state actors on PPPs and concessions. As a conclusion, the partial implementation of this commitment, due to lack of open data format of the information published, has marginally improved access to information.

Carried Forward?

At the time of writing this report, the government had not published a new action plan. The IRM researcher recommends for the government to carry out consultations with civil society, media and other interest groups to improve the current registry. The following recommendations could be considered too:

  1. Increase the quality of datasets for each concession and PPP in open data format in accordance with Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS);
  2. Link the registry to the Public Procurement Commission’s complaint process;
  3. Strengthen the e-procurement performance and compliance monitoring system and provide for public reporting and monitoring of performance;
  4. Further harmonize with EU public procurement rules, including recommendations on a contract registry for all public contracts and improvements in the processes of concession award and management and defence procurement;
  5. Further approximation of the legal framework and improvement of related bylaws regulating the registry should address civil society concerns over the usability of registry’s information and the extent of information provided at the portal. Such amendments should include aspects related to format of information (in open data), type of information (e.g. revenues, collected taxes) and other aspects which are not specified, and which would make a real difference.

[47] Registry of Concessions and PPPs, http://www.atrako.gov.al/?page_id=112

[48] Gazeta Shekulli, 20 July 2017, http://open.data.al/sq/lajme/lajm/lang/sq/id/1953/titull/Pesekoncesionetefshehtateqeverisegjatekohessezgjedhjeve/Pese-koncesionet-e-fshehta-te-qeverise-gjate-kohes-se-zgjedhjeve

[49] Registry of Concessions/PPPs, http://www.atrako.gov.al/?page_id=112.

[50] Chart for Contracts based on field of activity, http://www.atrako.gov.al/?page_id=638

[51] Chart for Contracts annually, http://www.atrako.gov.al/?page_id=640

[52] Chart for contracts according to contractual authorities, http://www.atrako.gov.al/?page_id=642

[53] Chart for contracts according to contracted private partner, http://www.atrako.gov.al/?page_id=644

[54] Chart for contracts according to monetary value, http://www.atrako.gov.al/?page_id=646

[55] Chart for contracts based on the ratio investment’s monetary value versus price, http://www.atrako.gov.al/?page_id=648

[56] Oranews TV, “World Bank – What are the PPPs’ risks?”, April 2018, http://www.oranews.tv/article/banka-boterore-tregon-kush-jane-rreziqet-qe-mund-te-vijne-nga-ppp

[57] Jens Reinke, Head of IMF office in Tirana, interview for Top-Channel TV, March 2018 “IMF: Stop concessions. Stop unsolicited proposals by private sector”, http://www.javanews.al/fmn-qeveria-te-pezulloje-perkohesisht-koncesionet-stop-propozimeve-te-pakerkuara-nga-privatet/


Commitments

Open Government Partnership