Civil society organizations react to the decision of the Parliamentary Committee on Economy and Finances

++ Proposals for amendments to the concession law and private public partnership are dropped ++

Tirana, March 15, 2019. A group of civil society organizations have reacted today about not approving some proposals for changes to the Concession Law. With a one-year commitment, EcoAlbania, in collaboration with national and local environmental organizations, environmental law experts, has taken the initiative to change the legal package of concessions for HPPs.

After numerous stakeholder consultations, at the beginning of February this year, they submitted their proposals for additions and amendments to Law no. 125/2013 “On concessions and public private partnership” with the parliamentary committees responsible for reviewing the draft law. The analysis was discussed at a special session in the Commission on Production, Trade and Environment, where some of the proposed points were taken into consideration. The Commission approved proposals regarding the identification of concession projects based on national plans and strategies as well as some details regarding the feasibility study. However, the Committee on Economy and Finances, as the responsible committee, did not approve any of them, without giving any concrete arguments.

In the panel representatives of the Environmental organizations and legal experts. From the left: Nihat Dragoti – INCA, Elvana Tivari – legal expert, Olsi Nika – EcoAlbania, Irena Dule – legal expert, Res Publica, Xhemal Mato – Ecomovement (c) B. Guri/EcoAlbania

Some of the main proposals are:

  1. Removing undeclared proposals as a widespread practice, which does not guarantee quality in the feasibility study as well as fair competition;
  2. Identification of potential concession projects / PPPs should be based on national, local and inter-sectoral sectoral and cross-sectoral strategies, plans or programs;
  3. Detail the feasibility study by exhausting all the parts that it should contain as part of it, such as: technical analysis, economic and financial analysis and environmental and social impacts;
  4. Inclusion in the concession fee, payment for the use of property owned by the state and/or private persons.

Today, organizations have once again stressed that the situation of HPPs in Albania is alarming, as more than 540 hydroelectric power plants are planned in the entire territory of Albania – a significant part of which (around 39%) in protected areas and potential areas of high nature values like the River Vjosa and its branches.

“We have followed the legal ways to oppose HPP projects in the valley of Vjosa, Osumi, etc. and yet we think this would be an endless battle as the current legislation favors the issuance of new permits without applying the highest standards for environmental protection. So we think that some of our recommendations would change this situation for the benefit of nature and local communities, “said Olsi Nika, Director of EcoAlbania. This is also the case with the scanning of concession contracts for the construction of hydropower plants, which has recently started by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy. “The legal amendments proposed by us would solve the cracks and legal gaps for these concessions, thus avoiding unnecessary scanning processes in the future,” he added.

EcoAlbania will continue its efforts to follow the voice of environmental organizations, experts, local government representatives and residents affected by the development of hydro-energy projects.

This initiative was initiated by EcoAlbania under the project “ACTIV II – Community Engagement – Indicator of Decision Integration Integration” implemented by EcoAlbania in partnership with local organizations “Alliance of Albanian Alps” and “Argonaut” and funded by LëvizAlbania – for a strong local Democracy by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation – SDC.