Business Corruption in Albania
Corruption in Albania still presents one of the greatest stumbling blocks to its bid for EU candicacy. For example, Albania is the country where the highest percentage of companies expects to give gifts to get a government contract (compared to the regional average). Although corruption in Albania is still considered highest among the Balkan countries, the European Commission’s Albania 2013 Progress Report does point out some progress in many areas, most notably in political party financing. The government had adopted a national anti-corruption plan for the period 2011-2013 which saw, in 2012, the High Inspectorate for Declaration and Auditing of Assets and the Supreme State Audit signing a memorandum of understanding aimed at combating corruption by establishing a database on suspected corrupt practices in the public administration. Also in 2012, the Albanian government approved changes to the Albanian Constitution which included restrictions on the immunity of high-level public officials and judges.
However, the European Commission’s report points out that the effects of these initiatives have yet to be felt, and the rate of convictions is still too low. Companies should note that corruption is reportedly widespread in the judiciary, which lacks independence, efficiency and accountability. This potentially leads to a slow and inefficient handling of commercial disputes. Anti-corruption initiatives lack both enforcement and an adequate track of corruption investigations and prosecutions. In May 2013, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) board declared Albania fully compliant with the EITI Standard. EITI compliance ensures an effective and transparent process for annual disclosure and reconciliation of all revenues from Albania’s extractive sector. This development might pave the way for increased investment in a sector that was until now rife with corruption, thereby discouraging foreign companies to enter the market.
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