Prime Minister Edi Rama has warned Albanian mayors against engaging in corruption. He informed them that the ruling Socialist Party (PS) and his government won’t provide them with political support if they are brought to justice.
On Friday, Rama held a meeting with all mayors following the arrest of a Socialist mayor by the Special Prosecution against Corruption (SPAK) on charges of corruption. He announced that the official in question, Lushnje Mayor Fatos Tushe, was expelled from the PS.
This was the first time an incumbent mayor is arrested in Albania on charges of corruption. Earlier this week, the head of SPAK, Arben Kraja, warned of more arrests of officials to come.
In Albania, 60 of the 61 municipalities are led by mayors of the Socialist party, after the opposition boycotted the June 2019 elections.
Rama revealed that according to an assessment by the Public Procurement Agency (APP), nearly 90 percent of the municipalities’ public procurements since 2020 violated legal requirements, mainly for being tailored for specific companies to win the bids.
More than half of municipalities didn’t care to improve procedures in accordance with government recommendations, Rama informed.
On average, only 2.1 companies compete for a public tender in Albania’s municipalities, he said. In half of public procurements, only one company bid for a particular contract in 47 of 61 municipalities.
Rama didn’t clarify whether his government reported these violations to SPAK, but he assured the mayors that this would be the case from now on, and no political protection would be provided to them.
He called on all mayors to follow the example of his government and increase competition in public procurements.