Posted on August 18, 2011 by Bruce Kay, Director of Threshold Programs for Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America
MCC completed its first $13.85 million Threshold Program in Albania in 2008. As a result of the success of the program, MCC approved a $15.7 million Stage II Threshold Program, building upon the accomplishments of the first.
The Stage II Threshold Program in Albania ended last month. The results of the Threshold Program in Albania should be a source of pride for all who worked to make it a success.
Already we can see a number of remarkable achievements that have modernized government operations, cut down on red tape for businesses and entrepreneurs, and strengthened governance and the rule of law in Albania.
Our partners at USAID, the agency administering the program on MCC’s behalf, recently released a series of web videos that highlight some of the successes of the Stage I and Stage II Threshold Programs. The videos, in Albanian with English subtitles, focus on the establishment of an e-governance system, improvements to tax administration, the new business licensing and registration centers, and engagement with civil society.
These videos reflect Albania’s tremendous progress. Thanks to MCC support under the Threshold Program, Albania now has an integrated e-governance system serving to make public administration more efficient and less susceptible to corruption.
The system’s main features include:
- A United Nations award-winning e-procurement system, which has expanded competition and reduced costs, and is now used for all government purchases over $4,000 in value;
- A tax e-filing and e-payment system now used by two-thirds of all taxpayers, which has increased the public revenue while slashing corruption opportunities;
- A one-stop-shop business registration system, which has decreased economic informality and, according to the World Bank/IFC’s Doing Business magazine (2009, 2010), improved Albania’s business climate by more than 70 places in the global ranking;
- A single-window licensing system now used by most Albanian professionals and businesses to obtain their licenses; and
- functioning joint investigative units that are now investigating and prosecuting dozens of organized crime and corruption cases, including one case involving a former deputy Prime Minister.
The Stage II Threshold Program also developed a National Planning Registry, used now to manage and track building permit applications in five cities. It bolstered civic watchdog groups and helped them hold the Government of Albania accountable for maintaining the reforms ushered in by the Threshold Program.
It also created a myriad of now-functioning institutions that protect the interests of businesses and citizens alike, including a National Registration Center and branch offices in most cities, a National Licensing Center with branch offices, a Public Procurement Advocate, and a Taxpayers Advocate.
When Albania launched its initial Threshold Program in 2006, it was classified by the World Bank as a low-income country. In a sign of progress, the country jumped to the upper middle-income category in 2010.
Albania’s income status now precludes the country from being a candidate for MCC assistance, but MCC recognizes the tremendous progress made through the two Threshold Programs implemented in Albania.
As noted above, USAID administered the program on MCC’s behalf, with further assistance from the U.S. Department of Justice. USAID/Albania and the Government of Albania were critical partners, and the Department of Justice OPDAT program deserves kudos for its work bolstering law enforcement mechanisms, now used with great effect.
For more information on Albania’s initial and Stage II Threshold Programs, visit MCC’s Albania page.