The implementation of the judicial reform and the creation recently of the vetting institutions will bring significant budget increases as salaries for judges and prosecutors will rise.
One of the seven draft laws that was approved as part of the judicial reform package envisions a large rise in pays and pensions for magistrates who will survive the vetting procedures.
The current monthly salary of a judge is around 130,000 lekë, will be basically raised to the same level as judges in Western countries, up to 330,000–580,000 lekë, depending on their work experience and court at which they are employed.
On top of the basic salary, there will be a seniority bonus of around 2% per year, which will basically double their salary toward the end of their career, as well as other perks such as school funding for their children, etc.
The ca. 1,000 magistrates that currently serve in the judicial system together cost around 1.9 billion lekë per year (~€13.6 million), whereas upon the completion of the vetting these costs will more than double to 4.5 billion lekë per year (~€35 million).
This sum does not include pensions costs, which will increase not only because of the salary increase, but also because the new law calculates the pension of magistrates on the basis of 60% of their wage level, rather than the 40% for other civil servants. Already this 20% extra will cost at least 3.2 billion lekë extra, which the government will have to cover with further transfers into the state pension fund.
The new law also increases the part of the pension that will pass on to family members in case of a magistrate’s early death. Their spouse will now receive 60% of their pension, or 30% for each child.
In total, these pension increases will cost the state an additional 7.7 billion lekë (~€56 million), or 2.8% of the total annual state budget. The costs of the entire post-vetting magistrature, including wages and pensions, will therefore have roughly the same budget as the Albanian Development Fund (FZhSh), responsible for large infrastructural investments.
In other words, in order to finance the judicial reform the Ministry of Finance will have to perform a budget cut in other state expenses the size of the entire FZhSh budget.
The costs of the entire judicial system, which includes the magistrature but also the supporting infrastructure, prisons, and the ministry, will be about 19 billion lekë (~€140 million), or 1.4% of the GDP.
The EU average for the costs of the judicial system is exactly half, 0.7% of GDP, with Bulgaria the highest at 1.1%, followed by Romania and Poland at 0.8%. At the lower end we find Italy (0.6%), Germany (0.5%), and France (0.3%).
The judicial reform in Albania will therefore produce the most expensive justice system in Europe.