The Albanian government is planning to pass a new law that will allow it to bypass existing legislative protections and award a concession for a hydropower plant to a company it once described as “corrupt”.
The draft law on ‘determining the special procedure for negotiating and executing the contract with the company Bechtel International INC for the design and construction of the Skavica hydropower plant,” was approved at a meeting of the Council of Ministers and was signed by Deputy Prime Minister Erion Brace in the absence of Prime Minister Edi Rama.
Betchel is one of two companies involved in constructing the Rreshen-Kalimash road after winning a controversial race that was highly criticised by the Socialist Party in 2006. Erion Brace was in fact one of the biggest critics of the contract and he went as far to accuse it of being “Berisha’s personal crime” and called for the prosecution to investigate.
Then in 2014, Taulant Balla called the project “dizzying financial abuse” and called for it to be investigated.
Yet seven years later, they seem to have had a change of tune. The Socialist Party government intends to bypass the public procurement framework via this law, to give them the right to negotiate a contract for the construction of the plant with Bechtel, without any competition. This will essentially mean the ‘winner’ is predetermined and the contract is designed for Bechtel.
This is a violation of Albania’s Stabilization and Accession Agreement with the Europen Union that it has been bound by since 2019.
The concept of the Skavica hydropower plant has been around since the 1970s. It would sit on the Drin river and serve as a reservoir for the Drin i Zi, sat in the mountains between Kukes and Peshkopi.