FACT SHEET: AntiCorruption

This Albanian anti-corruption campaign poster reads "Stop Corruption - Don't trade away with your rights!"
This Albanian anti-corruption campaign poster reads "Stop Corruption - Don't trade away with your rights!"
Poster from CAO - Zyra Per Mbrojtjen E Qytetareve (Office of Citizen Protection).

Corruption continues to be a complex and pervasive challenge in Albania, impeding economic growth and damaging the faith of citizens in government. While the legal framework and inter-agency structures to reduce corruption are in place, including the recently passed judicial reform, implementation remains uneven. The 2014 Worldwide Governance Indicators for Albania (the most recent available), collected by the World Bank, show that the country ranks very poorly in terms of government effectiveness (51.9 percentile), rule of law (40.9 percentile), and control of corruption (35.6 percentile). Further, government officials are rarely charged or held accountable for crimes.

USAID/Albania projects work to improve government and judicial accountability, transparency, and efficiency. We partner with government institutions, the media, and civil society organizations to support transparent and efficient systems that hold public officials accountable to its citizens and minimize corruption in government, the judiciary, and financial sectors. We work with the judiciary, local government, political parties and the financial sector to reform political campaign financing and improve election operations. Our projects also lay the groundwork for planning and policy reforms, and strengthen civil society’s role in overseeing government and judicial performance and advocating for increased transparency.

PROGRAM AREAS

CORRUPTION IN THE JUSTICE SECTOR

The lack of transparency in the judicial system leads to increased opportunities for corruption and undermines public confidence in the courts. At a fundamental level, the rule of law requires a clear and consistent legal framework, where public officials and institutions are held accountable, disputes are settled peacefully and effectively, and citizens have confidence in the operations of their justice system. USAID assistance is designed to bring judicial institutions closer to these ideals.

Citizen confidence in the justice system requires transparency and openness — such as improving courtroom scheduling to assure trials take place in public courtrooms. Public satisfaction with the administration of justice requires a level of efficiency and a basic belief in the fairness in court procedures — such as applying modern management principles to the processing of cases passing through the court system. USAID partners with Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in introducing active case management practices in Albania’s District Courts. This work will minimize or eliminate court delays, leading to increased public satisfaction and confidence in the justice system. USAID also works with civil society and investigative journalists to monitor the implementation of judicial reforms in courts and increase their capacities to advocate for further reforms.

In partnership with IREX, a leading international organization with extensive experience in supporting media development and investigative journalism, USAID supports investigative reporters and other journalists to become trusted arbiters on the government’s claims of progress on anti-corruption measures. Specifically, USAID support journalists and media to engage in investigating economic crimes and corruption. Journalists and media are being supported through grants to support content and editorial development and publication of investigative pieces as well as capacity building for those working in the field of investigative journalism.

TRANSPARENCY OF GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND LAWS

USAID is assisting reforms to the Government of Albania’s decentralization policies and laws so that local governments will be more accountable and transparent in planning and allocating resources. USAID has also assisted the drafting of a new law on how the Government allocates unconditional grant funds to municipalities which would make the process more stable, transparent, and predictable in order to avoid political favoritism and corruption at both the central and local levels. USAID also advocates for the unconditional grant fund to be based on a percentage of national revenues, thus enabling citizens to calculate the amount they expect to be receive, and improving transparency and oversight.

Furthermore, USAID has assisted the GOA in the development of a first-ever comprehensive Local Government Finance Law (LGFL). This law should provide a more logical and consistent legal framework, clarify fiscal and financial authorities and the revenue-raising capacities of local governments, improve stabilize and make more transparent and predictable the intergovernmental transfer system, strengthen local public finance management, and enhance intergovernmental dialogue and consultation.

HEALTH SECTOR

Corruption is a persistent problem throughout Albania, with an increased incidence in the health sector leading to reduced community access to appropriate and high quality healthcare. USAID works to build the capacities of the three governmental agencies and selected civil society organizations and media sources to reduce the space for corruption in the health sector. Working with the High Inspectorate for the Declaration and Audit of Assets and Conflict of Interest (HIDAACI), the High State Audit, and the Office of the Ombudsman, the project will generate evidence through performance audits, complaint investigations, and asset reporting; design and implement assessments to measure corruption and relevant mediating factors; and perform public sector reforms and audits.

CIVIL SOCIETY

Local organizations can play an important role in improving governance and fighting corruption. They are closest to government service delivery and best able to determine its effectiveness. With training and guidance provided by USAID, they will also be able to comment on the efficiency of provision of government services. USAID is awarding grants to local organizations, to target selected areas, including (but not limited to) election oversight, anti-corruption, and increased citizen oversight. This increased scrutiny and oversight is expected to prompt reform and improvement of service delivery.

IT SYSTEMS FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

USAID is helping to computerize financial and tax system works in 11 local government units to improve tax collection, increase tax revenues, and reduce the number of one-on-one interactions with tax officials which are cited as a source of corrupt practices. Since USAID’s support first started in 2014, the 11 local governments have managed to generate more than 700,000 tax bills, of which 550,000 are for business taxes and 150,000 are for family taxes. In addition, USAID developed a dedicated application called “Fix My City,” operational in six cities, enabling citizens to report various problems and monitor action taken to address the reported problem. This application was replicated by the central government for all of Albania’s 61 municipalities.

TERRITORIAL REFORM AND PLANNING 

USAID assists partner municipalities with urban territorial planning to establish a transparent land development process. In the five municipalities where USAID drafted General Local Territorial Plans, more than 40% of construction is illegal or informal. Having approved plans in place means there will be fewer opportunities to issue illegal construction permits and to use corrupt building practices.

PUBLIC SCRUTINY

USAID has prepared a “Citizens’ Guide to the Local Budget” to facilitate citizens’ participation in policy formulation and effective monitoring of financial activities at the local level. This information allows citizens to effectively participate in policy making while simultaneously increasing the transparency and accountability of the local governments. Citizen Advisory Panels have been established in 13 partner municipalities, enabling more than 300 citizens to participate in local budget and planning meetings with municipal officials.

Last updated: September 14, 2018

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