It was a fine day for Albanian’s embattled police – whose image was badly tarnished reports of close connections between senior police officers and drug-lords last year.An investigation that lasted about two weeks ended on Wednesday with police seizing a record quantity of Colombian cocaine.
However, while the police received well deserved praise for the operation, some question whether the size of the drug haul is a sign of police success – or whether it is also as a sign of how massive the drug smuggling business in Albania has become.
US ambassador Donald Lu and the EU Delegation in Tirana offered warm words to the Albanian police for nabbing 613 kg of cocaine, found in a banana container on Wednesday.
Edi Rama’s – Arben Ahmeti’s: money laundering system
Monitor, a weekly magazine specializing in economic reporting, has shown that many of the companies that received permits to erect high-rise buildings in the priciest parts of Tirana do not have enough assets from their financial statements to finance such huge projects – while the banks apparently refused to provide them with loans.
||Prime Minister Edi Rama. Photo: Malton Dibra/LSA
A new report sent to Albania’s parliament by the Commissioner for the Supervision of the Civil Service says too many public jobs are still being filled by direct appointments by heads of institutions – a practice the Civil Service Commissioner calls „illegal“.
It says it verified 2,803 job positions in the civil service and found that 1,964 of them were filled properly.
„However, 839 cases, about 30 per cent, were filled through a simple order of appointment by the head of the institution,“ the report said.
The Commissioner is a relatively new body, created in 2014, as a part of attempts to establish a professional public service in a country where public jobs are often used as rewards for votes or for political support.
The Commissioner, Pranvera Strakosha, was elected by parliament, which is controlled by Edi Rama’s Socialist-led coalition.
Apart from the fact that a big number of jobs are still being illegally filled, the report raises concern that such appointments, along with a substantial number of vacancies, „is placing a big burden on current state employees“ and „is decreasing the quality of public service“.
Public sector jobs in Albania are highly sought after, because the salaries tend to be higher than in the private sector and because such employment is secure.
The public sector, which includes central and local government as well as publicly owned companies, employs about 164,000 people out of 600,000 non-agricultural jobs in the country.
The central government employs about 81,000 people, of which about 9,000 belong to the civil service, a category that should act as the backbone of a professional public administration and where hiring and firing procedures are regulated by a specific law.
In theory, such status provides protection against politically motivated hiring and firing. In practice, political parties often accuse each other of disregarding the law.
Prime Minister Rama campaigned last year on a promise to scrap the old clientelistic system, calling on voters to grant his party a parliamentary majority and so free him from the corrupt pressure of smaller coalition parties.
Albania has approved three laws since 1996 aiming to build a professional public administration.
The latest was approved by both political camps in 2013 under pressure from the EU. However, as Commissioner’s new report states, the law has been widely ignored.
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