OP-ED/Partial initiatives on proprietorship issues

OP-ED/Partial initiatives on proprietorship issues

This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and www.albanianfreepress.al

By Plator Nesturi

Recently, we’ve seen several incentives which relate to the issue of properties and the legalization of constructions which have been built without following any criteria, in particular alongside the coastline. In fact, every incentive that is undertaken needs to be praised, because there is at least an attempt to come out of the chaos of constructions that we have seen in the past 30 years. What’s more, the adjustment of the issue of proprietorship remains one of the most important conditions that Albania needs to deliver as part of the EU integration process. However, these issues remain uncoordinated and in general, their only purpose is to tell the international community that we’re making efforts.

The process for the legalization of illegal constructions continues. This seems to have been the main focus of this parliamentary majority, while significant progress has been made. Over 150 thousand legalized properties have established new proprietorship rules in these areas. But, there’s still a problem with the payment for expropriations, because the high bill must be afforded by a poor state.

Meanwhile, the Agency for Legalization (ALUIZNI) has identified a large number of unlawful constructions in developing areas, mainly alongside the coastline, which were not entitled to undergo the process of legalization. For this, the agency has distributed a list to the respective municipalities in order to start their demolition and free public or private space. This list includes bars, restaurants and even hotels, from the area of Velipoja in the north to the area of Ksamil in the south.

This was accompanied by a “black list” presented by the head of the agency, Artan Lame. The list included a number of construction companies which have not paid the necessary fees to obtain property titles for the apartment buildings that they have built. This has made many people victims of fraud. The number of construction companies which have not paid these fees is 328. This has forced many people to go through the long list of procedures needed to follow to obtain a property title, which should have come with the property at the moment of the purchase. Therefore, the decision to deny these companies construction permits without first meeting their obligations needs to be praised. Meanwhile,  people have been advised not to make any purchases from these companies.

All of these incentives show that there’s an attempt to tackle these problems; problems which are numerous and complex, when you think about the real mess that properties in this country are in. However, incentives which aim at addressing this situation are always welcome. But these incentives not only complement each-other, especially when these incentives are launched by different institutions. For instance, as far the government’s decision taken a while ago to suspend the registration of properties benefited through the so called law 7501 in coastal areas is concerned, there’s still no information about its effects. At that time, critics said that this was a violation and that such decision taken by the Council of Ministers overrides the law and Constitution. Others think that this decision represents an abrogation of law 7051 and that former owners could reclaim their properties and this is seen with positivity. But what is the truth and what does this incentive aim to achieve? The details of the law are not yet ready, but the articles of the decision seem to suggest that the decision mainly concerns the coastline, where tourism has a priority and that this decision may serve as an attempt to put a stop to abusiveness, because these plots of lands have not been agricultural lands, which could be divided under law 7051. Secondly, by blocking their registration, based on feasibility studies on these areas, they could develop as part of the strategy on tourism or they may be used to compensate former owners from other areas. In other words, this means that by blocking the registration of land plots under 7051, their ownership is passed on to the state and not in favor of former owners and this sparks a fresh debate, because the state has no right to appropriate something which does not belong to it and even less to give the land to the people that the state wishes to, be them strategic investors in the sector of tourism or people who need to be compensated through these lands situated in the coastline. We need to wait and see what explanation the authorities will have for this decision, however, this issue should be handled as a whole and not as individual parts which cannot solve anything.

Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy