Tirana-based Institute for Democracy and Mediation considers incompetency of internal audit staff within the Ministry of Interior as most challenging for budgeting.
By Mateja Agatonović (BCSP)
Albania scored 38 out of 100 in the Open Budget Survey 2015 which implies that Government provides minimal budget information to the citizens and there is limited space in providing chances for the public to get involved in budgeting.
There are five main challenging in managing and controlling seven budgetary programs for the Albanian State Police which is the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior.
Lack of transparency is common for every budget program. The most important among them is State Police Program (funds allocated to it amount to 74% of the approved 2016 budget) which contains four specific subprograms: (1) Criminal Investigations aiming to increase security and peace; (2) Public Safety targeting public order and safety; (3) Border Security and Migration directing to develop the border control; (4) Police Training pointing to ensure full training of all police employees according to the needs of the organization.
Albania realized only 18.6% of the budget in the 2016 first quarter compared with an adopted annual budget plan. Low level of budget execution is seen in 6% of realization of the expenditures in the annual plan, comparing to 20% of current expenditures. Research has shown that there has been no progress for three programs, while the other four was not realized. Wages and other personnel costs account for 96% of the actual expenses, while capital expenses are very low, only 4%.
Internal Audit within the Ministry of Interior is not fully competent to provide independent scrutiny on the adequacy of the corporate governance and risk management arrangements in the police. Until 2015, the Internal Audit has scheduled 27 audits but has conducted 20. It avoided auditing the major Directorate of Central Procurement at the Ministry of Interior – the key spending unit of budget funds.
The impact of external audit work conducted by the Supreme Audit Institution is still limited due to its focus on compliance audits and detection of irregularities, not on ways to prevent it. Approximately 90% of the audits carried out in 2016 were envisaged as regularity or compliance audits. Performance audits – introduced in 2008 – are yet to become a regular practice.
The involvement of civil society in budgeting processes is not high. In the case of Albania State Police, it is practically non-existent. Civil society organizations lack resources for the task of financial oversight.