Tirana, Nov. 19, 2008 ( – Almost 89 per cent of Albania’s capital expenditures during 2008 have been spent for the Albania-Kosovo highway, – data published by Ministry of Finance suggests.
For the nine months ending on Sept. 30, Albania had spent 40 billion lek, (€328 million), from its 45.5 billion capital expenditures budget for the highway. About half of this sum was raised in the international market as syndicated loans. Albania will need to invest another €250 million to complete the 60 kilometer long highway.
The Albanian Government admitted in August that the highway linking the country’s coast with Kosovo will cost €630 million, more than €200 million than the original contract of €418 million.
The admission came in a letter by Albania’s government to the International Monetary Fund.
The highway, which links the port of Durres with Kosovo, is the country’s biggest public works project in decades, however its has been dogged by allegations of irregularities and corruption.
Prosecutor-General Ina Rama is probing alleged irregularities in the tender for the construction of the highway won by the American-Turkish consortium, Bechtel-Enka.
Former Prosecutor-General Theodhori Sollaku began an investigation last year into alleged irregularities surrounding the awarding of the tender.
The investigation led to a request by Sollaku that parliament lift the immunity of Foreign Minister Lulzim Basha, who was at the time of the tender, the Minister of Transport.
Basha’s immunity was lifted by parliament at the end of December.
A few weeks earlier, President Bamir Topi had dismissed Sollaku, following a call for his sacking by a parliamentary commission, and nominated Rama, a former Serious Crimes Court Judge, as his replacement.
Local media have reported that several other officials from the roads department of the Transport Ministry are being investigated along with Basha.
Although Basha has sought to characterise the investigation as a politically-motivated attack by Sollaku, since Rama took over, she has continued to push ahead with the probe.