From: Alice Taylor
Albanian President Vetoes Law Granting Additional Funding to New National Theater

The President of Albania, Ilir Meta, has returned yet another law to Parliament, refusing to give it his official stamp of approval.

The law in question is another Normative Act proposing changes to the State Budget 2021 which includes the allocation of 900 million lek (EUR 7.4 million) to the Municipality of Tirana for the construction of the new National Theater.

Meta said that the allocation of these funds, at the expense of taxpayers, is a violation of the decision of the Constitutional Court.

In July, the Court ruled that the decision to transfer the Theater from the Ministry of Culture to the Municipality of Tirana was unconstitutional. This automatically voided it and transferred it back to the Ministry. Just days later, the Council of Ministers transferred it back to the Municipality claiming they didn’t have funds to build it, but the Municipality does.

Meta wrote in his decision that “the government continues to adopt decisions in the spirit of unconstitutional acts. The Government and Parliament have openly bypassed and challenged the decision-making authority of the Constitutional Court. The money is being given for a project and property that should not have been, and that according to the decision of the Constitutional Court, is no longer the competence or property of the Municipality of Tirana.”

On Tuesday, Meta returned the law on foreigners to Parliament, claiming it paves the way for cheap labor to be imported to the country to replace Albanians who immigrate. This was to the dismay of many foreign residents who were looking forward to a less expensive and simplified application process, including provisions for the self-employed, remote workers, and pensioners.

He also vetoed other amendments to the law on the management of the state budget that would increase public debt in the country.

In his decree, Meta stated that the law was unconstitutional and surpasses the competencies of the Council of Ministers.

According to Meta, the normative act through which the amendment was passed can only be used in situations of emergency, which is no longer the case for Albania.

He sent the law act back to Parliament, asking that it explore a more sustainable way to help Albania’s economy in the longterm, without risking a further and risky increase to the country’s public debt.

Albanian public debt is currently around 86% of the GDP. Amendments, as proposed by the government, would have increased this to an additional EUR 1 billion for the next year.

The laws will be sent back to Parliament, which will have to vote on them again. If a majority vote is secured, they will pass without the approval of the President. Parliament convenes in September with the presence of the Opposition parties after an 18-month break following the surrendering of their mandates.