CENTRE OF GOVERNMENT PROFILE
[as at April 1998]
|The Government||The Government
The Government (Council of Ministers) as a collegiate body consists of the Prime Minister; the Deputy Prime Minister; three Ministers of State positioned at the centre of government, including the Minister of State near the Prime Minister, the Minister of State for Economic Development and Aid Co-ordination, and the Minister of State for Legislative Reform and Relations to Parliament; thirteen ministers in charge of line ministries; and four Secretaries of State for Defence Policy, Local Government, the Interior, and Euro-Atlantic Integration.
Meetings of the Council of Ministers are usually chaired by the Prime Minister. In the absence of the Prime Minister and with his or her prior authorisation, meetings of the Council of Ministers may be chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister.
Attendance at meetings of the Council of Ministers is not restricted to members of the Government. Other regular participants include, inter alia, the Secretary-General of the Government; deputy ministers where ministers are unable to attend; and experts from line ministries and advisory staff to the Prime Minister who may be invited to assist in the discussion of specific items on the agenda. Only members of the Government have the right to vote. With the exception of members of the Government, admission to Government meetings is at the Prime Minister's discretion.
Meetings of the Council of Ministers normally take place every Monday. Extraordinary meetings can be convened by the Prime Minister.
The agenda for the meetings of the Council of Ministers is drawn up by the Secretary-General of the Council. The final agenda requires the approval of the Prime Minister.
Items for the agenda must be submitted to the Secretary-General. Only members of the Council of Ministers may submit draft laws, decrees, acts and other material for reporting, consultation and information. Materials that have been prepared by non-ministerial central institutions must be submitted via the member of Government most closely involved with the issue concerned.
There are, at present, no strict general deadlines by which members of the Council of Ministers must submit items to the Secretary-General. However, the agenda is to be distributed to the members of the Government at least three working days prior to the next regular meeting of the Council. In practice, later additions to the agenda are not infrequent. It is also possible for proposals to be tabled directly at a meeting of the Council of Ministers without having been circulated in advance, provided that the Prime Minister agrees to such a request.
The agenda of the meeting is sectioned into three parts:
Items on the agenda that are not covered or settled in a meeting of the Council of Ministers may be rolled over to the next meeting, when they take precedence on the agenda.
|The preparation of submissions
The main provisions governing the preparation of submissions to the Government are contained in the "Rules on the Functioning of the Council of Ministers" (hereafter: Rules on the Council of Ministers), last amended in July 1997. These provisions have been adopted on the basis of Law No. 7491 of 29 April 1991 "On the main constitutional provisions", insofar as the latter relate to the Council of Ministers. The current Rules on the Council of Ministers set out a sequenced executive policy preparation and co-ordination process leading to collective decision-taking by the Council. It should, however, be noted that these regulations are not always strictly adhered to; whilst they establish a normative framework for executive policy making, they may, at times, prove difficult to enforce.
In accordance with the Rules on the Council of Ministers, the ministry proposing a legislative measure has prime responsibility for ensuring proper consultation with other relevant ministries and central offices. Ministries to be routinely consulted include (i) the Ministry of Finance and the Department of Economic Development and Aid Co-ordination (a central unit headed by a Minister of State) in the case of projects that affect economic policy and public finances; (ii) the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Department of Public Administration (a central unit under the Prime Minister) for matters affecting social policy, human resources and remuneration; and (iii) the Ministry of Justice, which must comment on the legality of all proposed legislation, orders and decisions by the Council of Ministers. In practice, detailed consultation with the Ministry of Justice tends to be limited to more substantial pieces of legislation.
Draft proposals that have been subject to these preliminary consultation procedures are submitted to the Secretary-General of the Government. In principle, he may reject proposals that fail to comply with the above regulations for interministerial consultation. The dossier accompanying the draft text should contain: an explanatory report; the comments and remarks of the concerned ministries (these should have been approved by the respective ministers); and a draft press release. In the case of draft legislation, the explanatory report ought to comprise the following:
The Rules on the Council of Ministers envisage that once a draft has been submitted to the Secretary-General, it is subject to a further round of interministerial clearing before it is put on the agenda of the Council of Ministers. Such clearing meetings are to be convened by the Cabinet of the Prime Minister and are attended by experts from the proposing ministry and from other ministries that have commented on the draft. Where the clearing meeting results in agreement amongst all concerned ministries without the need for major revisions, the item is included in the first part of the Council of Minister's agenda. Where agreement is reached in principle, but major revisions are required, the matter is referred back to the proposing ministry via the Secretary-General.
If this second round of interministerial clearing fails to resolve differences of opinion, the Prime Minister's Cabinet prepares a report for the Prime Minister who decides on the further course of action. He may decide to refer the matter directly to the Council of Ministers; to one of the three sectoral interministerial committees for further consultation (see below); or to the proposing sponsoring ministry with specific comments or instructions.
Prior to their submission to the Government, legislative proposals should also be cleared the Juridical Department, a central unit that reports directly to the Secretary-General. The Juridical Department is asked to comment on the legality of the proposed measure.
Despite a normative framework for the preparation of Government decisions, there is concern over what is perceived as a lack of substantive interministerial co-ordination prior to decision taking by the Council of Ministers. This not only results in a sometimes overloaded Council agenda; it also jeopardises the authority of the Council of Ministers as a collegiate decision-making body. The Prime Minister's discretion in setting the agenda of Council meetings, therefore needs to be exercised with great care. The present Government has emphasised its determination to strengthen the structures and procedures for the preparation of Government decisions. In particular, it is deemed desirable to improve interministerial communication and consultation; and to provide more effective mechanisms for sectoral co-ordination by strengthening the co-ordinating capacities of institutions at the centre of government.
It is widely acknowledged within the Government that the formal rules governing the executive preparation of legislative measures need to be refined further and should be enforced more strictly. Interministerial consultation and communication are sometimes nominal rather than substantive. As regards central co-ordination, the new Government has sought to upgrade the capacities for political co-ordination by appointing a number of top-ranking executive politicians who are part of the central office of the Council of Ministers and have an explicit co-ordinating brief. Thus, as noted above, the Prime Minister, in exercising his powers as head of the Council of Ministers, is now assisted by a Deputy Prime Minister, a Minister of State near the Prime Minister, and two Ministers of State in charge of Economic Development and Aid Co-ordination, and Legislative Reform and Relations to Parliament respectively. However, if the centre is to support an integrated approach to policy making, then the relations amongst the political executives at the centre of government, administrative support staff and political advisors, and between the Office of the Council of Ministers and the ministries need to be clarified further. Given that the new Government has only come into office fairly recently, it can occasion no surprise that operating routines regarding the division of powers and responsibilities amongst the central political and administrative staff are only beginning to emerge. Also, the line ministries themselves have recently been subject to major organisational and personnel changes and need to build up dependable channels of communication with the reorganised centre.
|Decision making and recording
Decisions by the Council of Ministers are taken by a majority of its members. Votes tend to be avoided and decisions are typically taken consensually, but, on occasions, differences of opinion are resolved through majority voting. Decisions on draft proposals may be approved as submitted, approved in amended form, deferred for later discussion or returned to the concerned ministries for further consultation. The proposing ministry may also decide to withdraw a proposal.
The proceedings of Council of Ministers meetings are minuted, taped and recorded in short-hand.
Following a meeting of the Council of Ministers, a final report of the meeting and a notification for individual ministries are drafted by the Secretary-General. The final report contains the names of the participants, the agenda and the relevant conclusion for each discussed draft (ie approval without modification; approval with amendments; postponement; referral for further interministerial consultation; rejection). The report also notes any general matters discussed in the Government meeting and any conclusions.
The notification contains notes on each draft approved unchanged or with modifications to be worked out in detail by the relevant ministry. This notification is compiled and distributed by the Secretary-General immediately following the Council of Ministers' meeting. In addition, a press release is prepared after the meeting. It lists the drafts approved and provides a summary of their contents.
|Implementation of decisions
At present, there are no established procedures for monitoring systematically the status of implementation of decisions adopted by the Council of Ministers. As part of the reorganisation of the Council of Ministers under the new Government, the position of sectoral co-ordinators has been created (see below), who, in addition to their role in policy preparation, are also expected to monitor implementation. It is, however, too early to tell how effective this mechanism will prove to be.
|Legislative and regulatory procedures
There is no central institution for the drafting of legislation (for information on law drafting and regulatory management see also the country report on Albania in SIGMA (ed) (1997) Law Drafting and Regulatory Management in Central and Eastern Europe (SIGMA Paper No. 18), pp. 65-75). With the exception of the general provisions contained in the Rules on the Council of Ministers, there are also, at present, no special regulations governing the executive drafting process and drafting techniques, although a manual of legislative technique is currently under preparation.
Individual ministries are responsible for producing drafts of legislative measures that they wish to propose. Only a few drafts are prepared within the Office of the Council of Ministers. Within the ministries, the small specialised legal units that exist in most ministries co-operate closely with he relevant line directorates, sections and offices in drafting legislation. In the drafting process, frequent use is made of outside expertise, for example from academe, professional and interest associations, and also foreign expert advisors. Where a range of ministries have a direct interest in a legislative project, interministerial working groups may be set up to prepare the legislative draft.
There are several institutions involved in the legal review of draft legislation before it reaches the Council of Ministers, including the Ministry of Justice, the Juridical Department under the supervision of the Secretary-General and also, on occasions, the Legal Adviser to the Prime Minister. There are, in practice, no very strict rules governing their respective roles; rather, their division of responsibilities seems to vary with the political significance and sensitivity of the legislative project under discussion.
As noted above, all draft legislation must, in principle, be submitted to the Ministry of Justice for comment before it is submitted to the Secretary-General of the Government. It practice, only more substantial pieces of legislation are regularly sent to this Ministry. Within the Ministry of Justice, it is the responsibility of the Codification Department to check the compliance of draft legislation with existing Albanian legislation. The comments provided by the Codification Department vary greatly in length and depth. Often, they are fully taken on board by the proposing ministries, but there is no formal requirement to do so.
Once a draft has been submitted to the Secretary-General, it is typically passed to the Juridical Department in the Office of the Council of Minister for a review of the legal aspects of the proposed measure. At present, there are two trained lawyers in this Department. Their comments are submitted to the Secretary-General. While the Juridical Department may ask for amendments to the draft or raise objections, the Secretary-General and the Prime Minister are free to reject its advice. Any written comments must, however, form part of the dossier submitted to the meeting of the Council of Ministers.
In the case of legislative measures of major political significance, an important role in the pre-parliamentary stages of the legislative process may also be played by the Legal Adviser to the Prime Minister. His involvement in the legislative process can take different forms. He may monitor the legislative activity of the ministries and advise the Prime Minister on major legislative projects; however, the Prime Minister may also, on occasions, decide to ask his Legal Adviser to prepare legislative proposals himself.
There are, at present, no specialised units within the Government to assess the compatibility of draft legislation with EU legislation and norms and to promote the progressive approximation of laws. As part of its routine reviews of draft legislation, the Ministry of Justice seeks to take account of problems of compatibility.
As noted above, all draft legislation with budgetary implications is to be submitted to the Ministry of Finance for consideration before it reaches the Council of Ministers. As yet, there are no standardised methods for the cost assessment of new legislation.
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|Subordinate Bodies of the Council of Ministers
Since 1995, there have been three permanent sectoral interministerial commissions whose task it is to act as "consulting bodies to the Council of Ministers" and "aim at the co-ordination and definition of governmental policies in important fields of state activity" (Article 8 (1), Rules on the Council of Ministers). These committees are chaired by the Prime Minister or, at his or her request, the Deputy Prime Minister or the Minister of State near the Prime Minister.
The Committee on Economic Policy consists of the Ministers of Finance; Agriculture; Public Economy and Privatisation; Public Works and Transport; Trade and Tourism; the Minister of State for Economic Development and Aid Co-ordination; the Secretary of State for Local Government; and, upon invitation, the Governor of the Bank of Albania. The Committee's remit is to participate in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of economic policy and reform and the budget. It is also charged with reviewing important legislative initiatives with budgetary effects.
The Committee on Social Policy consists of the Ministers of Labour, Social Affairs and Women; Finance; Health and Environment; Education and Science; Culture, Youth and Sports; the Minister of State for Legislative Reform and Relations to Parliament; and the Secretary of State for Local Government. The Committee's remit is to participate in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of social policies, including, inter alia, policies for employment, social protection, social and health insurance, and training. It is also charged with reviewing important legislative initiatives in these areas.
The Committee on National Security Policy consists of the Ministers of Defence; the Interior; Justice; Foreign Affairs; the Minister of State for Legislative Reform and Relations to Parliament; the Secretaries of State for Defence, the Interior, and Euro-Atlantic Integration; the head of the National Intelligence Agency; and, upon invitation, the Attorney-General and the Chief Justice of the Court of Cassation. The Committee's remit is to participate in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of policies relating to public order, defence, foreign policy and European integration. It is also charged with reviewing important legislative initiatives affecting national security.
Although these permanent sectoral committees could, in principle, serve as an important means of procedural and substantive policy co-ordination and integration, it would appear that, at present, their contribution to policy development is, for the most part, still quite limited. With the exception of the Committee on Economic Policy, the permanent committees meet infrequently and they do not, as yet, appear to serve as effective filters for decision taking in the Council of Ministers.
In addition to these permanent interministerial committees, special committees may be set up at the proposal of the Prime Minister. One such committee, charged with co-ordinating the Government's anti-corruption policies, has met frequently in recent months. It is chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister. Its members include the Ministers of the Interior, Finance; Defence; and Justice; the head of the National Intelligence Agency; and, by invitation, the Attorney-General and the Governor of the Bank of Albania.
|Institutions at the Centre of Government
Since the election of the new Government headed by Prime Minister Fatos Nano in June 1997, the Office of the Council of Ministers has been subject to a major reorganisation, affecting structures, procedures and personnel. The main outlines of the new organisation have already emerged; but procedural routines have, in part, yet to evolve. Also, the personnel needs of the new organisation have still only be met in part, with some key positions as yet unfilled. Moreover, further organisational adjustments are currently envisaged. These are likely to focus on three closely connected issues:
The reorganisation of the centre of government must be seen against the background of a shift in executive power that characterises recent political developments in Albania. Whereas until the summer of 1997, executive power was strongly centralised in the President of the Republic, the executive role of the Presidency appears to have been much reduced since the appointment of Prime Minister Nano. The strengthening of the premiership is reflected in a growing differentiation and specialisation in terms of functions and organisation at the centre.
Although the functional division of responsibilities at the centre of government cannot be clear-cut, it is possible to distinguish five principal functional-institutional components within the reconstituted Office of the Council of Ministers. They include units for (i) the political and administrative advice and support of the Prime Minister; (ii) the personal support of the chief executive personnel; (iii) administrative-technical support for the Council of Ministers; (iv) policy development; and (v) policy co-ordination.
Political and administrative advice and support to the Prime Minister: As the head of the Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister does, in principle, have the entire apparatus of the Office of the Council of Ministers at his disposal. There is, at least for the moment, no institutional divide between personnel that serves the Council of Ministers and the support and advisory staff of the Prime Minister; put in Anglo-Saxon terminology, the Prime Minister's Office and the Cabinet Office are merged. Thus, in principle, the entire central office is expected to assist the Prime Minister directly. Nonetheless, two units stand out for their close relation to the Prime Minister. The first is his cabinet, which, at present, comprises the Chef de cabinet, two personal advisers, a press officer, and four secretaries. The second main office providing direct political support and advice to the Prime Minister consists of five advisers, specialising in foreign relations, national security, economic policy, legislative policy and general political issues respectively. The Legal Adviser, for example, focuses on legal issues of particular importance and is specifically entrusted by the Prime Minister with constitutional reform, a task he shares with the Minister of State for Legislative Reform. Given the constraints on the Prime Minister's time budget, the advisers generally communicate with the head of government through the Minister of State near the Prime Minister; but matters of special significance or urgency are dealt with in direct contact.
Personal support for chief executive personnel: All chief executive personnel in the centre of government have small personal offices (cabinet) to assist them in their day-to-day tasks. Budgeted staff numbers are as follows: Deputy Prime Minister: 3 posts; the Minister of State near the Prime Minister: 3; Minister for Economic Development and Aid Co-ordination: 3; Minister for Legislative Reform and Relations to Parliament: 5; Secretary-General: 1.
Administrative-technical support for the Council of Ministers: In terms of the number of personnel, administrative support for the Council of Ministers absorbs a considerable part of the central resources. There are four horizontal units within this administrative side of the Centre, all of which report to the Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers. They include the Juridical Department (budgeted staff number: 5); the Directorate for Documentation (15); a small section dealing with Information Technology (2); and the Directorate for Personal, Organisation and Technical Management (44; note that these are mainly technical support staff, such as electricians or drivers). There are also two small units for protocol and public correspondence and petitions that report directly to the Deputy Prime Minister.
Policy development: Two major policy domains are dealt with directly by the Centre. The first, headed by the Minister of State for Economic Development and Aid Co-ordination, comprises four directorates, dealing with macro-economic issues; project monitoring and project evaluation; project management; and aid co-ordination (total budgeted staff: 31). The second, headed by the Minister of State for Legislative Reform and Relations to Parliament, consists of a Directorate for Relations to Parliament and Public Institutions (total budgeted staff: 3) and a Department for Public Administration (8). The latter serves as the focal point within the Government for issues of administrative reform and development, with specialists for personnel policy, payments systems, organisational development, public service legislation and information technology.
Policy co-ordination: At least in terms of formal organisation, the main unit for policy co-ordination at the Centre is the new Department for Co-ordination. This Department consists of a head of department and 10 officials (budgeted staff number), each of whom shadows the activities of a different ministry. The role of the staff in this unit is to act as an interface between the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, on the one hand, and the ministries and central institutions, on the other. As such, they are expected to co-ordinate political and administrative-technical advice, and to comment and assist on draft legislation prepared by the ministries, in concert with the Juridical Department. The long-term impact of the new Department cannot be predicted with certainty. Much depends on the quality of the relationship between the ministries and their respective co-ordinator. The ministries only have a strong incentive to work through the co-ordinator if the latter is regarded as sufficiently expert in his respective field and, in particular, sufficiently influential within the Centre. We would, therefore, expect to see a good deal of sectoral variation in the practical influence of the central co-ordinators. It needs to be stressed, however, that the co-ordinators' position within the Centre is not yet clearly determined. At present, half of the co-ordinators report to the Deputy Prime Minister, the other half to the Minister of State near the Prime Minister. At the same time, the co-ordinators are expected to liaise with the Secretary-General.
Improvements in the preparation of decision-taking by the Council of Ministers depend on close co-operation both between the ministries and the centre and amongst administrative-technical support staff and political advisors within the Centre. As regards co-ordination within the Centre, it is, in particular, relations amongst the following that are of particular importance: the personal advisors to the Prime Minister, the heads of the personal offices of the executive politicians at the centre, the five sectoral policy advisors who communicate with the Prime Minister through the Minister of State near the Prime Minister, and the recently appointed co-ordinators. There are, accordingly, moves to encourage regular communication at this level. For example, the Minister of State near the Prime Minister has begun to call regular meetings of advisors and co-ordinators on Fridays and Mondays that are intended to identify problems for priority action.
Turning to the distinction between technical-administrative personnel and political staff, there is, at present no clear division between the two, either in legal or practical terms. In principle, political support exists for establishing such a division, and a draft civil service code to standardise job titles and salary structures and provide security of tenure to ministerial officials is in preparation. This is seen as an important first step towards creating a career civil service and a firm delineation between permanent technical-administrative staff versus political appointees.
Albania has only emerged very recently from a period of considerable domestic political turbulence, and the new Government has only taken office in June 1997. While the Centre of Government has been reorganised, the new structure has not yet had a chance to consolidate and some key positions are, as yet, unfilled. Stabilisation is, thus, rightly seen as a key priority. There is a appreciation amongst key decision-makers at the Centre of Government that continuous attention to organisational development and institutional fine-tuning will be necessary, if the new structures and procedures are to be made to work effectively. Some of the main issues to be addressed have already been noted above:
|FOR FURTHER INFORMATION||Mr Gramoz Pashko
Chief Advisor of the Prime Minister
Council of Ministers
Bvld, Deshoret E Kombit
Tel.: (355) 42.30533
Fax: (355) 42.34818