From: Alice Taylor
Albanian Government Won’t Manage EU Funds for School Reconstruction

The Albanian government will not have any say in the way that EU funds are used in the project to rebuild and construct schools damaged by the 26 November earthquake.

Exit previously sent questions to the EU Delegation who stated that “funds recently provided by the EU for school rehabilitation and reconstruction will be managed by the UNDP.”

When contacted, the UNDP in Albania confirmed that “the evaluation panels for all procurement processes will be composed of UNDP and does not foresee participation from the Government.”

They also clarified that all funds provided by the EU to the UNDP for the EU4Schools project are managed independently of any other funds that the UNDP manages. These funds also have no connection with the resources that the Government has for post-earthquake reconstruction. These funds will be used for the repair and construction of 22 schools and these are not part of the list of schools the government is currently organising procurement processes for.

In terms of procurement processes that the UNDP will use, they explained that they must strictly adhere to the UNDP Financial Regulations and Rules, approved by the executive board. These mandate that contracts be awarded through a competitive process via formal tenders.

They must also adhere to UNDP principles and standards including best value for money, fairness, integrity and transparency, effective international competition, and be in the best interests of UNDP. This means that any business transactions must conform to the mandates and principles of the UNDP and the United Nations.

They clarified these points in their response to Exit:

“As a public organization entrusted with donor funds and committed to supporting developing economies, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) works to improve access to quality-assured supplies in a cost-effective and reliable way. We do this by abiding by the following UNDP principles and standards:

  • Best Value for Money, which consists of the selection of the offer that best meets the end-user’s needs and that presents the best return on investment. Best Value for Money is the result of several factors, including quality, experience, the vendor’s reputation, life-cycle costs and benefits, and parameters that measure how well the good or service allows the organization to meet its social, environmental or other strategic objectives.
  • Fairness, Integrity and Transparency, which ensures that competitive processes are fair, open, and rules-based. All potential vendors should be treated equally, and the process should feature clear evaluation criteria, unambiguous solicitation instructions, realistic requirements, and rules and procedures that are easy to understand.
  • Effective International Competition understood as giving all potential vendors timely and adequate information on UNDP requirements, as well as equal opportunity to participate in procurement actions; and
  • In the best interest of UNDP, which means that any business transactions must conform to the mandates and principles of UNDP and the United Nations.”

Exit had previously noted that procurement processes being undertaken by the government were effectively excluding any international bidders. 

One tender worth EUR 33.4 million for the reconstruction of schools, only received interest from Albanian companies. These included government favourites Fusha shpk, Albstar shpk, Salillari shpk, Gjikuria shpk and Vellezerit Hysa shpk.

While they were announced as international tenders, the participation of foreign companies was impossible due to the deadline for applications being set at nine days out of 20 that the law provides. 

The government’s procurement processes raise a number of questions but it is now clear that EU funds will be managed by the UNDP on behalf of the EU and that these government tenders are applicable to other funds. The EU funds will be managed according to UN best practices and requirements, without any management from the Albanian government.