Opposition Denounces €100M Concession Contract as Corrupt And Illegal

Former opposition MP Agron Shehaj denounced Prime Minisiter Edi Rama’s decision to award a private company a concession contract worth €100 million for checking the accuracy of gas station pumps. Shehaj stated that the contract violated the law and harmed public interest.

Inspection of gas pumps has so far been conducted by a government agency twice a year. Gas station businesses pay a total of €5 million to government each year for the inspection service.

The Ministry of Finances decided to give the service away through a 20-year concession contract to a private company, Noa Control, without publishing any analysis showing the reasons, and how this would improve the service for the public or how it would lower costs.

Shehaj stated that the awarded concession contract violated the law. In May 2019, the Administrative Court of Tirana annulled the concession tender launched in September 2018. The court ordered the Ministry of Finance to open the call for tender again, because the previous one was abusive and predetermined the winning company.

The ministry failed to comply with the court verdict, and announced Noa Control, the only bidding company, the concession contract winner.

Shehaj stated that the ministry had also violated the law on concessions because its decision to give to hand the inspection service to a private company was not determined by a cost–benefit analysis.

The contract between the Albanian government and the private company requires the latter to invest €600 thousand for an expected minimum profit of €100 million in 20 years, with no risks whatsoever.

Following Shehaj’s denunciation, the Ministry of Finance released a press statement clarifying that the company will not raise the tariff for inspection services. It failed to answer former MP’s accuses about the legal violation, refusal to comply with a court verdict, and lack of cost–benefit analysis.

The ministry also emphasized that in its capacity of contracting party, it can end the contract with the private company if the latter fails to comply with contract terms. Again, the ministry failed to mention that one-sided terminations of contracts are adjudicated by courts of arbitration.

The Albanian government was recently ordered by a court of arbitration to pay the similar sum of €110 million in taxpayers money to Italian businessman Francesco Becchetti.