JEROLA ZIAJ

A decision of the Vlora Municipal Council has increased by ALL 8000 the cleaning fee for the business community, without consideration of the space they have in use. This decision of which stakeholders state to not have been consulted previously and are ready to follow-up legally, is conflicted with the promise made by mayor Dritan Leli before he won the mandate of mayor in 2015. The municipality of Vlora has refused to respond regarding this matter even after the official request for information.

When asking for the votes of the people of Vlora before his first mandate as head of the municipality of Vlora during the 2015 local elections, the candidate Dritan Leli promised equal treatment during tax and fee collection; public transparency and citizen inclusion in city decision-making.

Some of the promises made by the mayor of Vlora Dritan Leli before he received his first mandate in 2015.

Faktoje decided to investigate if the mayor has stood by his promises as he is currently during his 6 years as mayor.

We found out that in November of this year the Vlora Municipal Council has decided that starting January 2022, the businesses in the city will pay a higher city cleaning fee.

Agenda in the meeting of the Vlora Municipal Council dated December 2, 2021

The local Directorate of Tax and Fees introduced the bill for the increase of the city cleaning fee which several business categories in the city should pay, which foresees the increase of the city cleaning fee (for the business category) from 48 to 70%. According to the director of the Local Tax and Fee Office, Anjeza Shiko this decision was within the legal framework.

“We have come up with a zoning of businesses and those businesses that use a space of 51-100 m2 will be charged ALL 8000 more. Thus from ALL 12.000/year they will pay ALL 20.000. Whereas for businesses that use a space up to +100m2 the fee from ALL 17.000/ year will amount to ALL 25.000/year. This change affects 568 subjects. mainly hotel services, restaurants, fast-foods etc…”-stated Anjeza Shiko, director of taxes and fees.

Even though the decision to change the fees is said to be based on DCM 319 dated 31.05.2018, we found that several criteria have not been approved.

Firstly, the Decision of the Council of Ministers on which has been based this decision of the Municipal Council is valuable for the processing of the waste in the landfill, which is still being constructed in Vlora.

We addressed the Municipality of Vlora on behalf of Faktoje with an official request for information in which we required explanation on this decision-making which enters into force in January 2022.

Screenshot of the request for information addressed to the Municipality of Vlora, dated 9.12.2021

Until the publication of this article and despite being beyond the legal deadline, the municipality of Vlora is yet to respond.

During the communication with business representatives in Vlora we learned that the decision to increase the cleaning fee for this community was not consulted with stakeholders.

Adrian Taushani, administrator of a bar/lounge in the city states that since the service has not changed the cleaning fee also should not change.

“We were made aware of this decision through the media, since the decision-making was not consulted with business groups which are affected directly. We consider this abusive and we will request a review of the decision.“ – stated Taushani. The head of the municipality of Vlora is yet to take an official stance regarding the claims made by the businesses after the approval of the increase of the cleaning fee by the Vlora Municipal Council.

 Vasil Bedinaj, owner of several businesses in the city states that they will begin a legal battle to oppose the decision of the Vlora Municipal Council, which according to him affects business.

“We had considered to ask the perfect of the District of Vlora not to recognize the decision, but it is late to do this now. We are part of a group of businesses which consider this decision to be unfair and financially impairing. We are willing to take the mayor in the court.” – stated Bedinaj.

 From the investigation we carried out and the information we gathered, we have decided that the promise made by mayor Leli for equal treatment of tax and fee collection, public transparency and citizen inclusion in city decision-making as “unkept”.