The unknowns behind the privatization of Tirana water supply system

The unknowns behind the privatization of Tirana water supply system

Tirana, 25 August 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Edison Kurani

The experiences that Albanians have with the privatization of water supply systems are ugly. In Elbasan, a foreign company which then disappeared, did not bring the promised service, but increased the price progressively and never supplied with water.

What’s more, many other privatizations and concessions, have led to an increase of prices and very little or no improvement of services.

The privatization of UKT (Tirana Water Supply System) is being prepared now. Some say that caution is required and some are skeptical.

Municipality of Tirana officially says that it is negotiating to privatize UKT. Mayor Erion Veliaj confirms this, by stressing that the company has a positive balance sheet and that this would be in the best interest of private investors.

There is no public information on the sale of UKT, but Mr. Veliaj says that there is a process which extends to negotiations with those who want to acquire UKT.

We have received several offers and interested sides. We are still going through a process of negotiations and I would like to guarantee the citizens that we will do our best until we are convinced that we receive the best offer for UKT”, says Mr. Veliaj, not revealing any company names which have entered talks.

Eno Bozdo, former deputy mayor of Tirana, is critical about the way that this process of privatization is taking place. he says that UKT is an enterprise that operates in a strategic and regulated sector, while he recalls the fact that the privatization of these companies is regulated by a legal complex package.

Therefore, he’s critical with Mr. Veliaj, especially on the holding of negotiations: Bozdo mentions that “according to the Albanian legislation, every privatization requires a competition and any contact with companies before the criteria of the competition are announced, is a premise for the process to be a corrupt process”.

ibna bozdo

Organizational Secretary of the Democratic Party says that there is no decision for the privatization of UKT and as a result, there are no transparent criteria. Therefore, he raises a question which is still unanswered by Veliaj: “Who has authorized the privatization of UKT and who has authorized you to negotiate?”

Recently, a publicity campaign on UKT has started on the Albanian media. This also explains the recent declaration of Mr. Veliaj that the state owned company that controls drinking water and the sewage system of the capital of nearly one million people, will be privatized.

Meanwhile, although UKT will be privatized, the municipality is holding numerous investments to improve the services. Currently, residents of Tirana are supplied with water 3 to 12 hours a day, depending on the area. But only a part of the citizens drink the tap water. Water is mostly purchased, thus increasing the cost that residents of Tirana pay every month. /