INVA HASANALIAJ & ILDA KURTI

The Ministry of Agriculture, another institution fact checked by Faktoje, has submitted documents that are hardly believed to come from state institutions. As compared to other ministries that provided information on the same request, the Ministry of Agriculture has the lowest transparency standard. Based on the available invoices and receipts verification, solely one destination of Minister Peleshi (partially) matches the location of the hotel. As regards his successor, Mr. Blendi Çuçi, travel receipts and hotel locations remain a mystery, with the exception of Boston.


The Ministry of Agriculture is one of the institutions that submitted the most fragmentary documentation on ministers’ foreign visits during January 2018 – June 2019. The documentation was issued by the institution, when Faktoje‘s lawsuit against the Ministry of Agriculture procedures had just started at the Administrative Court.

During the reported period, the ministry was led by Niko Peleshi (in office on September 2017 – January 2019), and Bledi Çuçi (in office on January 2019 – December 2020).

In the summary information of the Ministry of Agriculture, dated 25.09.2020, Protocol No. 7397/1, attached with the documentation, we found:

6 sales tax invoices for the purchase of flight tickets with the relevant destination and a Munich-Salzburg train ticket booked online, as well as 4 hotel invoices, during the period that Niko Peleshi was a Minister (from January 19th, 2018 to September 27th, 2019).

During the review, Faktoje found the following gaps in the documentation:

  • For the most part, documents are almost illegible.
  • The invoices are unprotocolled (same as the case with the Ministry of Interior).
  • Service orders for foreign visits are missing.
  • Copies of travel tickets are missing (only purchase tax invoices are available)
  • The names of staff accompanying the minister are missing
  • Data on hotels where the minister and their staff were accommodated are missing.

*One of the tax invoices for flight ticket purchase sent by the Ministry of Agriculture (Very poor-quality printing)

Despite documentation gaps and the poor-quality printing of the invoices that came by mail, we managed to decipher the data on the expenses of the Minister of Agriculture.

We notice a significant discrepancy between the tax invoices for the purchase of flight tickets and the hotel invoices. On the documentation, only one destination (partially) matches the information about the hotel.

When it comes to travel ticket costs, as evidenced by sales tax invoices, the following values result:

  • Travel ticket for 4 people Tirana – Austria 262,000 ALL

This is confirmed by the tax invoice dated 17.09.2018

Lack of documentation on accommodation and purpose of the visit

  • Travel ticket for 4 people Tirana – Austria 221,000 ALL

This is confirmed by the tax invoice dated 17.09.2018

Lack of documentation on accommodation and purpose of the visit

  • Travel ticket for 4 people Tirana – Zagreb 221,000 ALL

This is confirmed by the tax invoice dated 26.04.2018 (corrected date)

Lack of documentation on accommodation and purpose of the visit

  • Travel ticket for 4 people Tirana – Tel Aviv 339,586 ALL

This is confirmed by the tax invoice dated 30.04.2018

Lack of documentation on accommodation and purpose of the visit

  • Travel ticket for 4 people Tirana – Vilnius 325,000 ALL

This is confirmed by the tax invoice dated 21.05.2018

Lack of documentation on accommodation and purpose of the visit

  • Travel ticket for 2 people Tirana – Vienna 175,000 ALL

This is confirmed by the tax invoice dated 13.09.2018

Lack of documentation on accommodation and purpose of the visit

  • Travel ticket for 3 people Tirana – Salzburg 375,000 ALL

This is confirmed by the tax invoice dated 24.09.2018 (Partial and censored documentation on hotel accommodation and the purpose of the visit, shown in the image below)

What stands out is the high price of travel tickets, with the most expensive one being the ticket to Salzburg, Austria. Tickets for Minister Peleshi and his two staff members cost 375,000 ALL, or 125,000 ALL each.

One has to go through Munich to arrive to Salzburg?

Former Minister Peleshi turns out to have traveled to Salzburg, Austria by late September, according to the invoice below.

*Sales tax invoice, ticket Tirana – Salzburg – Tirana

The tax invoice for the flight ticket Tirana – Salzburg – Tirana is dated 24.09.2018, but it does not present any date of departure and return. Itineraries provided by the airline and boarding pass are not available (a typical lack of documentation for all visits reported by the Ministry of Agriculture).

On Sunday, September 30th, Minister Peleshi and 2 other staff stayed at a hotel which cost a total of 504 euro for 3 people. Hotel name and destination are not made available.

*Hotel invoice 1, invoice description (price for 3 people 504 Euro; check-in 30.09.2018 one night; invoice printed on 30.09.2018 at 21:12; hotel name is missing; hotel location is missing).

Despite the lack of Hotel 1 location, it turns out that a day later, on October 1st, 2018, Mr. Peleshi and two staff, whose names are not made public by the ministry, traveled by train from Munich (Germany) to Salzburg (Austria), according to the invoice below sent by the Ministry of Agriculture.

*Train ticket, Munich – Salzburg, data description (travel date 01.10.2018; departure from Munich at 09:55; arrival in Salzburg at 11:42)

On October 1st, Minister Peleshi stayed at a hotel located in Salzburg, according to the invoice below.

*Hotel invoice 2 in Salzburg, data description (price for 3 people – 456 euros, different invoice from hotel 1; check in 01.10.2018, stay 1 night; invoice printed on 02.10.2018 after 10:00; hotel name missing, location – Salzburg, Austria)

According to Faktoje verification, Minister Peleshi participated in the meeting “Europe 1918-2018-2118”, as confirmed by the posts on his social media, media announcements of the Ministry of Agriculture and the event agenda.

According to this program, the event was held in Salzburg, from 30.09 to 02.10 2018. No other events are mentioned in other cities during this period.

*Screenshot from the event in Salzburg (30.09. 2018-02.10.2018; Mr. Peleshi panel, dated 02.10. 2018, at 11:30)

In the few hotel bills that have been provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, on the time it was led by Mr. Peleshi, accommodation prices are under 200 euros. Other accommodation invoices of the former Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Niko Peleshi, belong to the following destinations:

Berlin, 3-nights stay during January 19-22 (from Friday to Monday). This is confirmed by the only invoice that they provided, which shows that a payment has been made through a MasterCard, but the price of accommodation per night is unclear. This invoice contains only one figure – 215 euros as MC transfer (MasterCard).

*Censored data invoice for hotel accommodation, Berlin, Germany. Data description (Name of the minister on the left, hotel address where the city and state are distinguished, date of check-in and check-out, MasterCard transfer of 215 euros, name “World of Hyatt Summary”, address for online booking of hotels)

As far as this destination is concerned, we have no invoice from the Ministry of Agriculture on a flight ticket certifying the trip to Berlin.

In the absence of a service order for foreign trips (according to DCM No. 870 dated 14.12.2011), we researched what was reported as an official meeting of the Minister on these dates and the events that Mr. Peleshi participated in.

According to a Facebook post by the former minister, he took part in the  Global Forum for Food and Agriculture Berlin, which was held on January 18-20, 2018. The report of the German Ministry of Agriculture also contained images of participants, including Mr. Niko Peleshi.

*Excerpts from the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture Berlin

Ferrara, Italy As far as this destination is concerned, the invoice submitted by the Ministry of Agriculture shows a one-night stay (April 10th, 2018), for two people, with the price per night + residence tax/ person being 118 euros.

*Images from the meeting in Ferrara, Italy

From October 2018 to January 2019, when he left office, no other foreign visits were reported for former Minister Peleshi, while Faktoje‘s research shows that he had indeed conducted other foreign visits, which were not reported. One of them is the visit to the Netherlands, on 19.03.2018.

*Excerpts from the visit to the Netherlands, published on the former Minister Peleshi Twitter profile

Regarding Mr. Peleshi’s successor, Bledi Çuçi, the Ministry of Agriculture has provided only 2 hotel invoices, 2 sales tax invoices for travel tickets and 2 travel ticket refund invoices.

*Excerpts from the documentation sent by the Ministry of Agriculture

Of the travel ticket invoices, only one destination is clearly reported to be Boston, USA.

Tax invoice for a travel ticket Tirana-Boston, with two items, one 600,000 ALL and the other 180.00 ALL, amounting to a total of 780,000 ALL.

The above invoice, dated 09.04.2019, fails to clarify how many people traveled. Attached we find a hotel invoice for 2 people, with a total value of 2,900 euros for 3 nights. One night costs 483 euros.

This invoice does not provide any hotel location data and any other identifying information, besides the check-in and check-out date, that is April 8-11, 2019.

During this period we find a post on former Minister Bledi Çuçi Twitter profile, visiting Harvard University.

The destination of the second tax invoice sent by the Ministry of Agriculture is illegible, but the purchase date 02.05.2019 and the value is 510,000 ALL.

Attached the ministry has sent the hotel invoice, where once again the location and identification data are missing. One night for 5 people costs a total of 1,150 euros, but on the invoice, we find an orientation note, which shows that the minister stayed in a suite that cost 280 euros per night.

We conducted online research to find the destination as well. On the official website of the Ministry of Agriculture we find an announcement for holding a meeting in China.

The only clear and legible document is the one issued by the Ministry itself for the reimbursement of the Tirana – Boston – Tirana ticket. There are 2 receipts with 200,000 and 210,000 ALL payments respectively made on 10.09.2019 and 28.01.2020.

* Receipt from MoARD on the reimbursement of Minister Çuçi’ ticket

* Receipt from MoARD on the reimbursement of Minister Çuçi’ ticket

The documentation provided by the Ministry of Agriculture shows a very low standard in making institutions transparent, but it also indicates how state documents are archived. Faktoje will again turn to the Ministry of Agriculture for the complete documentation on the foreign visits.