President Returns Law on Unsolicited Proposals over Last Moment Changes against Public Interest  

On Wednesday, President Ilir Meta returned to Parliament the law on limiting unsolicited proposals for concession contracts and public–private partnerships (PPP). He stated that the last minute changes in the law could further harm the public interest while benefiting clientelist interests.

In his decision, Meta praised the overall purpose of the law saying it is “a positive initiative, although a belated one and with negative consequences to the economy.” However, he argued that additional changes shortly before approval, which extend the period for the government to accept unsolicited proposal, were against the public interest.

The government and Socialist Party MPs have repeatedly stated for six months that starting from July 1, 2019 they were going to stop accepting unsolicited proposal for concession contracts from private companies.

The draft-law was ready since January but the Socialist Party delayed the parliament vote for reasons that are not clear. The draft-law prescribed that starting from July 1, the government would stop accepting unsolicited proposals for “public works related to construction, operation, maintenance and rehabilitation of roads.” Meta argued that no arguments were presented by the Socialist majority for submitting the draft-law to a vote 4 months after it was completed.

24 hours before the vote in parliament on July 18, former Minister of Economy and Finance, now MP Arben Ahmetaj proposed changes in articles 17 and 18, which allowed the government to accept unsolicited proposals for three more months, until October 1, 2019. Meta argued that Ahmetaj had presented no arguments for proposing to extend the deadline for the government to accept unsolicited proposals, yet the Parliament had accepted his proposal. This extension in time will allow the government to award concession contracts without limits and in every sector for 3 more months, according to the President.

President Meta stated this was the main reason for his refusal to sign the law, as the extended period can be misused against the public interest to award more concession contracts. In his decision, he required the Parliament to review the two articles.

During the last two months only, three concession contracts in particular have been denounced as potentially corrupt – Milot-Ballre highway, Dukat-Orikum road, and Thumane-Kashar highway. The government has awarded these projects to private companies for a total cost of about €660 million.

The World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Monetary Fund, European Union have all criticized the government use of unsolicited proposals and PPPs.