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                            THANASI Durata
                        
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Page 1

An Overview of Public Administration in Albania
by

THANASI Durata


1.INTRODUCTION
This paper proposes an overview of public administration in Albania.

The aim is to rebuild the reputation of public authorities and increase their
effectiveness in carrying out the Government’s programme.

The crisis and its aftermath have worsened the situation of the public
sector. Citizens and International institutions have lost trust in public
authorities. There has been further qualitative weakening of management and
policy implementation capacities. Yet public administration is more than ever
needed for rebuilding and putting the country back on track to a pluralist
democracy with a properly regulated market economy.

It is vitally important that public administration reform be given high
priority and that the government is seen to be strengthening institutions
which defend the rule of law. This will help the internal situation and raise
confidence of foreign investors and aid organisations. It is very clear that
Rebuilding administration and it acts under the rule of law, is part of the
conditionality imposed by the international community.

The immediate goal of the administrative reform plan is to consolidate
and protect democratic control institutions and key executive functions,
especially those necessary to get the recovery plan underway. The Government
is willing to stabilise public finances and to use the existing institutions and
(draft) laws in which there has been considerable international investment.

To complete the reforms, international aid must be harnessed.
Experience shows that this must be lead by Albanians and carefully
integrated into Albanian programmes. A mechanism is suggested.

II. LESSONS FROM THE PAST
Public administration has, during its brief democratic trial period, been

one of the weakest links in the Albanian government system. Management of
people and programs in a fiscally responsible way, based on sound technical
data and modern administrative principles, has been undermined by “house of
cards” strategies, formulated on demand by increasingly desperate political
leaders whose popular support (and international sympathy) waned as their
promises failed one by one. Ad hoc measures to “put out fires’ became the
norm. Government had become totally reactive. Leadership into the modern
world, of which Albanians dreamt in 1992, had devolved to a series of frantic
and internationally embarrassing measures of social control.

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First and foremost, today’s Albanian leaders have learned that promises
must be followed by action. For this to happen, services and programs
proposed by the Government must be realistic both in terms of content and
timing. But Ministers do not design the detail of programmes and they do not
deliver services to citizens. To translate political promises into action
requires an effective administration which works according to the rule of
law.

Since no-one disputes that international support will be a critical factor in
the new Government’s success in reforming administration, the management of
reform in Albania must move to favour sound planning and analysis, although
reforms will have to appropriate to the specific Albanian social and political
context.

III. A GENERAL VISION FOR OUR PATH AHEAD
For Albania to flourish, its citizens must have a sense of fairness--that

they will be treated equally under the law and that they will have the
opportunity to reap the rewards of their personal and collective efforts. They
must come to believe that their government works for them rather than to
control them in order to pursue its own agenda and the personal benefits of
political leaders. To many, at this point in time, that seems like an impossible
dream. Public trust seems very, very remote in today’s atmosphere of every
man for himself.

As Albania struggles out of the current survival mode, the country seeks
to build a new reputation. From one perspective, this may be easier to achieve
in Albania than in other former command economies. Due to the repression
and isolationism of the Hoxha years, Albania does not have ingrained
administrative and technological infrastructure that must be torn down before it
is rebuilt. Because of that -- and because of the social chaos of today has
resulted in a common popular impression that everything must start anew -- the
learning curve, while steep, can be short.

A determining factor of Albania’s success will be its new leaders’ ability
to infuse antipathy to corruption into the social conscience. We cannot do that
by fostering collective guilt for imperfect motives and processes of the past.
Although historical behaviours can be explained, they are nonetheless,
inconsistent with the vision of the future. Corruption, by its nature, means
gains for the few at the expense of many; opportunities for those in control, and
suffering for those who are controlled. The new leadership should and will
demonstrate by example that transparency translates into fairness for citizens
and minimises risks for investors in Albania’s future.

The success of new leaders’ attempts to change our culture will depend on
the reform policies they develop and their personal example. Albania must
learn the principles which govern public institutions in a democratic market

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oriented society. We must learn how to listen to citizens and how to transform
their desires into long-term institutions and programmes, operating under the
rule of law.

While sound central government for certain collective purposes will need
to be developed and maintained power must be decentralised to regions and
cities where local issues are managed. To make this work, a system of justice
must be instituted to protect and defend both private and public rights.
Mechanisms must be developed -- and used -- to enforce the law and
implement rights to public hearing in advance of decisions that impact on
competing interests. As a companion measure, an ombudsman system is
envisaged to settle disputes quickly, efficiently and at the earliest possible
stage.

Success for the new generation of leaders will depend on the effective
support of public institutions. These have to be rebuilt, and this in turn
depends on six primary factors. Albania needs to:

1. embed the rule of law in institutions and behaviours
2. use public resources efficiently, effectively and economically
3. adopt policies and procedures which can respond to change
4. engage the public in policy debate and formulation
5. ensure transparent, predictable and equitable administration
6. create a sound system of public finance
The first step is to communicate our vision for the future to citizens and

employees in the public sector. This must be accompanied by a process to
identify the missions of public institutions and draw up reform implementation
strategies. Reform must yield early results which can generate sustained
interest in continuing the process.

As Albania follows this path, we must not lose sight of what the global
business community has also learned -- that people are the country’s most
important resource. A professional public service will regain public
credibility for government and also provide the creativity, skills and effort
to help design and carry out social and economic policies. Investing in and
professionalising the public service must be the top priority.


IV. IMPORTANT ELEMENTS WHICH NEED TO BE

DEVELOPED, NATIONAL CAPACITIES TO MANAGE REFORM,
AND THE ROLE OF INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE

Albania needs support in the coming period. Hands-on assistance from
foreign experts may provide direct and immediate transfer of skills and
knowledge to Albanians. Financial aid will also be required to rebuild the

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infrastructure for new institutions, provide resources for necessary training, and
help stabilise the budget during a period of heavy outlays and investment.

Although technical expertise and equipment are valuable, we have learned
that western systems cannot work if managed by Albanians whose background
and experience not only do not equip them to understand those systems, but
may cause them -- consciously or not -- to misuse them and undermine long-
term goals. We have also seen the good results of good trainings tha our people
have had in western scools and working environments

On the other hand foreigners who may be expert in “western” approaches,
cannot understand sufficiently the Albanian context to succeed in introducing
their techniques.

Our experience of foreign technical assistance shows that there is a
“paradox”: we need foreign assistance to help us manage reform; but we
know that foreign assistance is only effective if it is managed by Albanians.
In this regard, the following factors are absolutely critical to the success of
future efforts.

1. We must start reform now, using the skills that we actualy have, and
making the best use of assistance. We have immediat steps to be taken
in order to satisfy immediat needs of the people and country, and we dont
have to loose site of these needs while we look at the future, because the
future starts now. So we will use all the investments done in human
recources, will safegard them and continue to invest on them.

2. We must start to build long-term capacities for self-sufficiency
especially in leadership.

3. Assistance is needed in a new way -- fully integrated into Albanian
reform programmes. While we look forward to and appreciate the
world’s benevolence toward our country and its people, we must take
special care to avoid distortions and long-term dependency.
Finally the Government could make a general proposal to the international

community. Albania has suffered from decades of isolation and does not
possess a political or managerial class. Although long-term, the international
community, might consider special programmes aimed at the next generation:
for example:

• “European Fullbright” programme
• “Accelerated Leadership Programme (ALP) (e.g. run by Soros for

Poland)
• Bilateral programs for the “elite building”
• A major public enlightenment campaign through media and schools

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V. DESCRIPTION OF ALBANIA’S PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
The overall standing of the public sector is confused since not all legal

distinctions have yet been made and the Constitution is not yet fully adapted to
the new circumstances. The public sector includes typical central
administrative functions, state territorial functions, local governments, state
enterprises and utilities, and numerous miscellaneous institutions. There are
three possible ways to differentiate: legal standing, revenue source, and legal
status of employees.

Prior to the crisis Albania did not invest sufficiently in upgrading its State
institutions. They are under-equipped to handle essential tasks. These are
primarily to manage transition, provide the regulatory/administrative
framework for the market, establish relations with the international community
and negotiate and manage aid flows. But these tasks must be carried out while
re-establishing order and maintaining social safety nets, under conditions of
budget stringency.

While hard information on pay and numbers is difficult to obtain, and
there is little information on public service demographics (age, sex, skill
profiles etc.). Certain conclusions can be drawn. The core civil service is not
fully defined in legal terms, is underpaid and of poor quality. The allocation of
human resources within the public sector is inefficient, with some areas
exhibiting over-staffing and low productivity, while others, especially in
central administration, are certainly under-qualified and probably under-
staffed. The lack of information on personnel hinders the development of
reform policy.
As is confirmed in UNDP and WB studies, base salaries for public
servants are at or below poverty rates; for top functionaries, they are only
slightly above. This situation leads to several destructive effects: corruption;
grade inflation, salary compression, low quality and low motivation.
The role of civil servants and the concept of a “job” as a continuing,
autonomous responsibility within a hierarchical structure are badly understood.
Rational organisation, personnel management and job definition require
cultural understanding of a “western-type” work context which is not always
present. Roles and missions of main institutions and their component parts are
not established clearly.
Recent work by the Department of Public Administration (DPA) has
increased understanding of the situation in central Ministries and institutions.
DPA has clarified organigrammes and staff numbers and standardised grade
nomenclature.

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Local administration and agencies suffer for the most from inadequately
defined and probably too limited responsibilities and powers. They have also
very limited capacities and resources. Virtually no progress has been made on
creating a rational system of territorial administration. The absence of a
properly regulated structure for managing State powers over the territory, may
have been one of the most significant factors in permitting the current situation
to occur.

The regulation and procedures of the Council of Ministers was a
significant reform, but lacks institutional momentum. Reform of budgeting,
treasury and financial management has not moved The State Control Service
has made important progress but the law to make it a recognised Supreme
Audit Institution has not passed.

These are only the first steps in a long process. However, they provide a
basis on which to work and a few people who have acquired knowledge and
skills in the area and on whom the Government and international community
can build.

* Symptoms and effects
The general situation of the public administration is characterised by

inadequate quality. Although turnover may have reduced, this is probably
because the best people have already left. Motivation is low, and, given the pay
conditions, corruption (major and petty) is endemic. The understanding of rule
of law in civil society and administration is low, and control institutions (audit,
administrative courts etc., are weakly developed and of uncertain status. The
administration functions without adequate checks on its powers.

The quality of policy and law is low largely because of inadequate
procedures and cross-ministerial checking, low policy capacities in the
Ministries, and lack of experience in techniques such as legal drafting, impact
analysis. There has been progress in this at least at the formal level (regulation
on the Council of Ministers), but the system is not firmly embedded and is
exposed to risk. The system still suffers from severe implementation deficits,
partly because the policy system does not consider implementation as an issue.
These deficits are particularly serious for policy areas where local governments
are involved in implementation and where delivery depends on good co-
operation amongst the deconcentrated services of the central administrations
and with local authorities.

Even before the crisis, the situation of territorial administration (local
government and deconcentrated central administration) was in trouble. Reform
attempts had failed to have significant impact. Currently the situation is close
to autarky in some areas. To impose the re-establishment of State authority, the
government will probably have to negotiating a reform of the central/local
balance.

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Apart from the security situation, weak definitions of roles of
organisations and poor quality of substantive law, mean that public
administration is not able, generally, to undertake the tasks of implementing
policy effectively and fairly under the rule of law.

Allocation of resources tends to be inefficient. Co-ordination of State
functions at the prefectoral level is weak, with severe consequences for
management investments.

Corruption is endemic,the mecanisms for collecting taxation and other
government revenues are weak; cash management, internal control and audit
systems are under-developed. The partial exception is the SCS but it needs its
status clarified and staff strengthened. There is no judicial oversight except
from the Constitutional court and no administrative procedure act

Aid flows, entrepreneurial activity, formulation and implementation of
government policy, and consolidation of democracy and the market economy
are all impeded by the inadequacies of public administration. Reform is urgent.
Goals are easy to set; but feasible reform programmes hard to design and fit
within budget constraints.

V. PUBLIC ADMINISTRATIVE REFORM
Like any other area of policy, PAR needs a policy formulation and

implementation mechanism. For personnel issues the DPA has served this
purpose, but has, of necessity, focused on personnel problems. For the future,
a broader strategic framework for PAR is to be developed, DPA will need to
be strengthened, its change networks in Ministries developed, and it will need
to build strategic alliances with “power centres” such as oversight bodies,
legal, and Finance.

In line with the remarks above, the Minister of State for Legislative
Reform and Relations with Parliament (responsible for administrative reform
and the civil service) should, with the support of DPA, also be responsible for
technical assistance so that it is fully integrated into Albanian reform policy.
DPA, in conjunction with the Minister of State for Development and Economic
Cooperation, should be equipped to handle the tasks of negotiating assistance
packages, managing procurement, orienting the work, and monitoring
performance.


Political will is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for success. PAR

will not happen unless there is sustained political commitment and orientation.
The new government has created a State Minster for Legislative Reform and
Relations with Parliament, but this may have the appearance of strength and
the reality of weakness. The crucial issue is the support of the Prime Minister,
his Deputy and the power of finance (not necessarily the Minister). The

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