Aurora Ndreu MA LL.M PhDc

European University of Tirana, Albania



When studying the public management, the top element doing this management in the public sector is the local government management.

 In 1992 we have the first post communist legal basis in Albania which does not lend itself bests as it was only a decision of the Council of Ministers that decided on the country’s administrative units. We say that this does not represent the maximum legal basis, since even during the communist dictatorship, such a very important for the country was approved by the Presidium of the National Assembly, giving not only a solemn form to the issue but also a ligit matter with which it was adopted. Thus the decision of Council of Ministers dated 25.06.1992 number 269 also set administrative division in 357 units.

For the first time we have an organic law on local government only in 2000 which was preceded by the ratification by the Albanian state of the European Charter of Local Autonomy highlighting the lift to another level, the political, economic and administrative local government. Also this card has also provided the very important principle of subsidiarity, according to which the central government will exercise only those powers that can not be put in a better way by the local government. So by this principle emerges once again the division between central and local functions now also in the jurisdiction, which gave more impetus to local development. It already appears the term of decentralization meant independence perennial power disconnection of central – local government.

In this paper I will show how the public management its done by the local government units in Albania after ‘90, the pro and contra of the system, the disbalance through the units regarding the management of public funds and those on collecting taxes. 

Keywords: Public management, local governance unit, Albania, European Charter of Local Autonomy, Decentralization. 


1    Definition of local government

Local government itself is nothing else but the people’s right that takes part within a given territory, to govern their affairs independently and through bodies which they themselves choose within that territory. This independently governance is achieved on the basis of decentralization or local autonomy. Therefore, this principle takes priority in the existence of good practice in local government.

The functioning and organization of local governance depends on the legislation of the country and as provided in the constitution. Also the relationship with central government agencies depend on the constitutional meaning.

Every part of the territory is administered by a Municipal government  and all states within their territory,  recognize and accept a set of values and principles on which is based local democracy. But the big problem of urban areas, it remains how to be structured and how to relate  different levels of organization  while meeting the functional needs in the best manner possible.

We must distinguish between regional self-government and regional autonomy. The latter is a more powerful form, close to classical federalism than local self-government, which then brings a greater impact in the constitutional structure within the state.

In countries like Italy, Portugal, Spain or the United Kingdom we see a growing tendency that local authorities are developing many of the services performed by the private public.

Local autonomy is a term that includes steadily the academic and popular discussion about the local government, but is rarely defined by conceptual meaning or become the subject of an empirical research.

Local autonomy can be defined as decentralization, as local fiscal discretion or as an adjustment to “home-rule”  to do or define your own rules within “your own  house”.

The central feature of local government in Albania is established and functions on the principle of local self-government.

The objective of local government is to provide a government as good at the local level by being closer to citizens, recognizing and accepting the existence of values and different identities within different communities, through respect for the rights and freedoms of citizens. This objective is achieved through the effective exercise of the functions of local government itself or services through the implementation of appropriate forms and above all promoting participation of community members in decision making.

Self relationship between central and local government is based on the principle of subsidiarity and cooperation between them. To achieve a successful governance is needed this kind of cooperation in order to meet the best needs of the citizens.

2- Local government bodies

The local government bodies, based on Article 5 of Law No. 8652 dated 31.07.2000 (Albanian Legislation), are the municipality, the Commune and Qarku – regional organization. Communes and municipalities are basic units of local government and regional level-qarku is the second unit level.

3- How they are established

These bodies are established under the law and as part of local government they are constitutional bodies.

The commune represents a group or community of residents who are in rural areas in general but are not excluded in any case the urban areas. It is an administrative-territorial unity. The name, its headquarters, or its territorial extension shall be determined by law. The Commune is divided into smaller units which are villages but the law does not exclude that in special cases to be municipal subdivisions and cities.

The municipality consists of a group of citizens and communities that live in the city but do not exclude the case when there are rural areas part of it. The name of the municipality and its territorial borders are defined by law. It is divided into areas and smaller territories called neighborhoods and the number of population is determined by law. Neighborhoods are created by a decision of the City Council. In cases where the municipality includes rural areas as mentioned above, then this subdivision is called village. In any case, when we create a new city, this is done by law and according to well-defined criteria regarding the prospects of urban development and the number of inhabitants or its urbanization.

The County-Qark is the unit of the second level, an administrative-territorial entity which included municipalities and communes which have geographic, territorial, economic, traditional and social relationships between them. The County has a boundary to determine those communes or municipalities that compose its name and headquarters are defined by law. His center-headquarters usually is one of the main municipalities that it is within its territory. Currently there are twelve districts- Qarks throughout the territory.

The mayors,  city councilors are elected directly by the people by universal suffrage, the president of the Regional Council or its members are elected indirectly. So the members of the regional council are  the members of city councils depending on the population of the local government and municipal mayors as ex officio member.

As a county subdivision earlier was Rrethi –an administrative organization body,  but on the late changes made after, this term is not provided in the administrative division or organization of local governments.

4- The functions of local government

Based on the Albanian organic law on local governance, functions of the municipality, commune and Regional district are divided into exclusive, shared and delegated.


4.1- What are “their own functions”?

The local government functions are called those functions that are provided by the local government law, for which it has complete freedom of authority with the necessary tools to use in view of the performance of these. For these functions implementation, local government has the complete responsibility and should exercise it within legal norms and standards of best practice.

Article 10 of the beforementioned law stipulates that local government and municipalities have fully administrative competemces regarding service, investment, regulatory with respect to its defined functions that are set in this article.

These functions of the local government are implemented always by respecting national policies set by the central government. This means that the central government can set standards  which are floor level and must not be exceeded in their violation. On the other hand the respect of these standards does not mean that the central government should violate the autonomy of local government and in such cases where a municipality does not realize its incomes to fulfill the citizen requirements, meaning that would not meet the needs of the population within its territory, or not able to realize the investments, it will be assisted by the central government with its own funds.

Given that the law gives full autonomy of local government units to exercise and manage these functions above, it is assumed that this function would be performed with the latter incomes itself. That said, the financing of these functions will be through local funds which will be implemented through local taxes, local fees, charges for services or unconditional transfers and grants.

However during the transition of these functions from the central to local and practical realization of these services by the latter there have come up many problems that I will mention in the following. Mostly these problems are related to urban planning and providing water supply.

Generally the process of decentralization and transfer to the local governance, depending on the local authorities, of many functions that were made after the entry into force of the laws of 2001 that had to do with the transfer of public property owned by the local government, faced a number of issues during implementation in practice.

As a consequence of all this legal basis and the decentralization has not yet been understand why some services that should be offered locally, continue today  to be perceived and offered by the prefecture, perhaps because their own citizens perceive this body as the responsible one,  since it is the central government representative in local territory and presents more reliably.

5. Management of water supply by the local governance

Let’s look closely at the problem of water supply. As we know the competent body for such a service is the water supply agency. During the passage of many state properties to local governments, a major problem of water supply passage was presented by the dependence of power of local government to the central state agencies. Besides the jurisdiction problem, the problem was that the latter were in a very vulnerable state economy, such financial difficulties as a result of the huge debts that Electro-Energy Corporation AEC had to the state.

This situation came as a result of not managing correctly the income or a great dificit between incomes and expenditure and the lack of the proper degree of debtors obligations due to the lack of a genuine policy on tariff nationally .

Since January 2002, when it was planned waterworks to be transferred to local governments, the problems began after it was determined the transfer of this service is still without determining policies and the ways in practice how it would be done something like this. To fix such problems, the government issued a Decision of the Council of Ministers no. 550 dated 07.11.2002 by which approve the policy document on decentralization of supply of drinking water and sanitation. Through this document were defined for the first time the transfer mode and procedures, how it would be managed water supply and what powers would have local units.

Only after the adoption of this document started of the process of implementation in practice of the law on the transfer of water supply to the municipalities of this commence during 2004 respectively.

During the time water supply organizations were under the administration of the central government their problems with financial insufficiency or debits were dealt with by the government through the available funds. During and after passing under the administration of local government units it brought many problems as the water utilities that has numerous financial problems can not be dealt with by local units due to lack of funds.

So after 2004, the process of the transfer of ownership has been slow and has had many problems. Consequently the creation of the company that will administer the aqueducts proved awkward and initially only a portion of the shares of these companies went to the local units, with time for those aqueducts that had major financial problems and spent the remainder of the shares. The local unit appointed by the City Council decision the society administrator of water supply. As regard this company will already have dependence on the local unit as the administrator was elected by the latter.

Another problem relating to the transfer and establishment of these management companies was the jurisdictional conflict between different local units that had to do with the territories that cover one or another local unit.

These problems have led the state that through subsidies helped these companies by providing them continuously with financial aid. Despite this it does not bring any improvement in the management of these companies and in many cases left to abuse because of a lack of full transparency during these subsidies.

The best solution determined by the experts in this case was that the subsidy to be done through a few well-defined and transparent criteria in order to avoid the situations of abuse. So these criteria were based on investments made in water supply, the solvency of residents within that territory, the occasional checks carried out, etc.

6. Management of urban planning by the local governance

Secondly we have to stress the problem of the function of urban planning or management, as an exclusive function of local units as defined in their organic law.

The exercise of this function in practice has encountered problems as a result of jurisdictional conflicts between local government units regarding the administration for granting building permits. Given that in many cases urban planning policies cross the boundaries of a single local unit, but may include some units. In these cases can best be handled at the regional level which is made by the county-qark.

Local government bases its right on urban planning not only in its organic law respectively to its functions, but also to other important laws such as:

– Urban Planning Law No. 8405 dated 17.09.1998 amended by Law 8453 dated 04.02.1999, the law 8501 dated 06.16.1999, the law 8682 dated 11.07.2000, the law 8991 dated

23.01.2003, the law 9632 dated 30.10.2006, the law 9743 dated 28.05.2007.

As regard, by the law 8991 dated 23.01.2003, the local government took an important function which became effective through the creation and operation of the Territorial Adjustment Council (CRT) in the local unit which depended on the latter and rising from this.


So on the basis of that power, local units not only control the monitoring of the implementation of the legal framework regarding the building right but also there were competent authorities that gave permission for construction sites.

Under Article 2 of the law no 8991 amending Article 14 of law 8405, as specialized body in urban planning organizations at the local government were:

  • The Territorial Adjustment Council (TAC) in the communes / municipalities and counties
  • the planning unit-department made up by the director and other specialized persons (the relevant sector) (on the latter was part the Technical Council, a body specialized in connection with the review of requests for giving the building permits, subject to the requirements of construction sites).

The Technical Council was part of the planning department and its functioning was regulated by the relevant legal acts. Members of this council are rewarded for the work they perform and the remuneration was determined by the Council of the relevant local unit. The technical council should have in its composition specialists like architects, engineers, lawyers etc. Its members were assigned a part by the decision of the municipal council and a part by the section or department of urban planning at the local unit. This council as long as it was in force was very important since all different files or applications for building permits were examined during its meetings.

Only after passing by legal and technical control of specialists in the field, these files would pass through to the TAC’s or persons concerned were returned for further improvements.

TAC functions as the decision making body at the regional councils too, the Municipality of Tirana as well as other municipalities that are first category cities. As president of TAC the law appoints the mayor or the president of the county council as ex officio position. The members of TAC are defined by law by their number as well as their function.


The non realization of the national income and high operating costs led to a degradation of the local government personnel, who have already returned to parasitic only receiving their salary and did perform de facto no service to the public.

The utility services to the public in the best case had a high cost and are provided faulty or not at the right quality, and at worst they are not provided at all, such as the provision of cleaning services or construction of sewage.

As public manager, local governance has had many problems and it has not been in its best and optimum action. Things are expected to change with the new territorial-administrative reform implemented recently in Albania.


  1. Marcou G. & Wollman H., “United cities and local governments”
  2. “Local finance and affordable housing and the financial crisis”, key issues for local government (same address supra note)
  3. Papajorgji Zh. & Dumi A. & Gjika I., “The participation of human resources in Albanian local governance obligates”
  4. Bakken Larry A., “Baltic experiences in Local Government”
  5. Vanags E.,“Local Government in Latvia”, Paper presentation at 14th conference on Baltic Studies at the University of Illinois (June 8-11, 1994)
  6. Materials found in the Albanian State Central Archieve
  7. Schroeder, L, “Fiscal Decentralization Policy Studies”, The Institute for Public Administration, (May 2004).
  8. Vejsiu Ylli & Misja Vladimir, “Aspects of Demographic Development in Albania,

Conference Paper”,(Tirana 1996).

  1. Law no. 8652 “Local governance in Albania” with amendments
  2. Law no. 8405, 1998 “Urban Planning” with amendments