Everyone was expecting the Albanian government not enter concession agreements through unsolicited bids, at least according to the declaration that was made by the minister of Economy and Finance, Arben Ahmetaj in front of MPs during the discussions taking place concerning the 2019 budget. But it seems like these forms of concession agreements will continue to apply. This is confirmed by the latest government decision taken yesterday, according to which, there have only been some changes in the existing law on concession agreements when it comes to “unsolicited bids”. Let us recall that the Public-Private Partnership law recognizes two ways of granting concession rights. The first one is the traditional one, where the state invites private companies to bid for a particular project and in this case, a tender is held. In the second case, a private company comes up with the idea of solving a public problem and makes an “unsolicited bid”. This time, the government offers a so called bonus to this company during the tender procedure. According to the amendments that were announced yesterday, the government has determined the conditions of this bonus. “If the unsolicited proposal is considered to be unacceptable, the contracting authority could initiate the procedure to grant the contract through a transparent and competitive process”, the government explains in its decision, explaining that this practice will not be changed in the future. Meanwhile, the government also says that “in case an unsolicited offer is accepted, the company making the proposal will benefit a bonus which will consist of 10% of the total 100 points”. But the government has also decided to favour the company in case its bid is lower than the actual cost of the project. This way, the government has decided to favour all those companies interested to make proposals for projects and bid for these projects. This sort of practice will continue even next year regarding road projects.
New amendment, there can also be other operators in the bidding process
Through the changes that the government has decided to make, the authorities may obtain unsolicited bids for projects which are considered to be acceptable. However, other operators will also be invited to participate in the bidding process. Such thing has not been applied so far for concession agreements, because unsolicited bids were announced winners of the project and there was no need for other bidders. In other words, no tender was held to invite other companies which would offer it as a service, because the company making the “unsolicited bid” would be entitled to obtain the contract.
MPs against unsolicited bids
A while ago, during the discussions taken place in parliamentary committees, both the majority and the opposition demanded the amendment of the existing law on concessions in order not to allow the application of “unsolicited bids”. According to them, contracts granted without a tender procedure are destroying the economy, therefore they should no longer be applied. Let us recall that important projects have been recently launched by using this form, including Arber Highway, Karpen Port and even the Airport of Kukes. The chairman of this parliamentary committee, Erion Braçe has criticized these concession agreements, proposing that these forms be removed from the current law concerning concession rights.