According to the annual report of the Competition Authority (AK), the decision of the Municipal Council of Tirana to substantially increase the water price in August 2017, which was approved by the Water Regulation Entity (ERrU) in November, was not based on economic studies, legal arguments, or a preliminary assessment of the AK.
Mayor Erion Veliaj illegally pushed the water price hike through a Municipal Council session in order to cover up for the mismanagement and extensive debts of the Water and Sewerage Utility Tirana (UKT), certified by several auditing reports. This would result in a sudden increase of the water price for families of 44%.
The report of the AK states that:
- ERrU did not provide a detailed overview of the costs that would justify a price increase;
- Neither the website of the Water and Sewerage Utility Tirana (UKT), nor of the Municipality of Tirana, nor of the ERrU, on which decision no. 47/2017 of the ERrU approving the water increase has been published, feature any economic or legal arguments that form the basis of the decision;
- In violation of art. 68 and 70 of law no. 9121 “Concerning the Protection of Competition,” the Municipality of Tirana failed to ask for a preliminary assessment of the price increase from the AK.
The AK further advised the Municipality, UKT and ERrU to increase the water price only with gradual steps and be more transparent about the decision making process. The advice of the AK is non-binding.