Prime Minister Edi Rama at meeting with the Co-governance Platform coordinators and group of citizens whose complaints and problems have been solved after addressing the online platform for co-governance with citizens entitled “Albania We Want”:
We have come together today to avail ourselves of the opportunity to communicate to the public as part of the ongoing effort to increase sensitivity and provide continued and real time information to the citizens in order to commit a greater possible number of citizens to the Co-governance Platform.
As many as 10 thousand cases have been lodged with the Platform, mostly direct complaints, individual and family problems, as well as community problems and community initiatives, as well as outcry over various governance issues. Around 1000 cases have been reported over the past week and I hope the number of complaints lodged by citizens will keep growing, because this is the goal of the online platform. Meanwhile, the internal organization of the entire network of coordinators and employees, who are engaged to operate the platform, is designed to deal with the growing influx.
It is obviously important that we continue the information process, keep on insisting, because we face a high wall of public distrust accumulated over the years regarding the public administration, the service delivery transparency and the readiness to change the situation. I am totally confident that the more citizens engage by just merely spending three minutes time to raise their voice and directly lodge their complaints to the relevant cabinet member, the sooner we will succeed in building an administration able to provide public service delivery without delay and ensure that zero bribe is paid to access a public service.
This is the way not only to solve problems, but also raise the civil servants’ awareness about the power of an ordinary citizens, who whenever shows up at a state office may – as traditionally has – look vulnerable and unable to assert his right he is entitled to by the law. With the online platform operational, the ordinary citizens, regardless the social category they belong to or geographical location they come from, become people who enjoy the whole government’s power and direct access to the government. If we were to refer to the ancient Albanian culture with citizens resorting to solve their day-to-day problems by finding a friend, they will no longer need to do so since the government is their direct friend, since it is the government that solves the problems and brings before law whoever civil servant, who is to blame for indefinite delays and failure to timely and legally address the problems, as well as identify all these inertia bearers and remove from the public administration all lazy, indifferent and corrupt civil servants who violate the citizens’ rights.
We count today over 10 thousand cases filed with the platform, whereas some 150 public administration employees have received deserved punishment, or have been provided warnings and advance notice of termination of their jobs after being found responsible for delays in addressing the citizens’ problems. Together we should fight the protection that an ever smaller number of public administration employees enjoy, but they are indeed the main culprit of the peoples’ worries. The growing public trust in this platform will yield increasingly more positive results.
In the years ahead, though seemingly incredible, we will be able to establish a relation with the ordinary citizen being able to impose the power of law and the public administration being the one to respond according to the law and address each problem. So the goal is building a zero-delay feedback and zero-bribe system, making it clear to every public administration employee that he or she is being monitored by every citizen when delivering public services.
I would like to hold such an event every week in order to provide the required information and explanations over concrete cases solved by the administration and results that should encourage others, who have no reasons to seek the old-fashion problem solving ways as it takes three minutes only to access to the online platform and present their problems. It is then the entire state machinery in specific sectors that works to solve each problem. There are thousands of concrete examples, but their number is still low considering the day-to-day needs of tens of thousands of people when dealing with the public administration.
I would like to invite Elisa, the co-governance platform coordinator who is tasked with providing response and solutions to citizens who encounter when applying for property titles at the Immovable Property Registration Office or at ALUIZNI, where, despite shortcomings, the situation is constantly improving. The property titles reform itself is about to complete and will be materialized with the establishment of a joint agency between the Property Registration Office and ALUIZNI due to work as a single institution.
Elisa: The platform is becoming increasingly dynamic. The citizens are largely hesitating to address the online Platform when it comes to issues that should be solved by the Ministry of Justice, since their problems have gone unsolved for too long. I would like to invite everyone to access the Platform as it takes three minutes only to solve their problems without having to wander about the institutions. I am pleased to invite Olia Muska, a citizen who had to travel back and forth between Tirana and Pogradec to legalize not only his own building, but also those of other eight families. Olian addressed the platform twice. First time he received the property certificate from ALUIZNI and he has obtained the due certificates for other eight families too.
Olian Muska: Allow me please Mr. Prime Minister to extend on behalf of myself and the eight Muska families in particular our appreciation to you and the Co-governance Platform staff for the excellent work they have done. I lodged a complaint with the online platform for co-governance with citizens entitled “Albania We Want” in November and I received a response within 10 days, affirming that my documents were in order and inviting me to withdraw the due legalization permit. After receiving the legalization, I applied for the property title certificate at the Property Registration Office. The process is quite simple. You should just access the “Play Store”, download the Albania We Want application. It takes less than three minutes and you should just choose the Ministry your are sending the complaint to. The system replies automatically, telling that you will receive a formal response within the next ten days. Even your complaint is not right; you are given instruction to complete the required documentation. Frankly saying, I trusted the platform and that’s why I filed my complaint. I was among the first citizens to do so. Thank you very much!
PM Edi Rama: This is a fortunate case, because you trusted the platform. However, in many cases, the lack of trust is our main problem. I would also like to add something important regarding the access to the platform. Everyone can gain access by using their own smart phones just by clicking an online application, but the elderly and those who use no smart phones and are not familiarized with the internet use can address to the postal service, to local government units and special offices that have been opened in the vicinity of the Socialist Party Headquarters and they can file their application through the assistance of individuals tasked with doing so.
The access to the platform has been already extended throughout the territory of the country and the platform works in every city, village, urban and rural remote areas all over the country despite potential temporary network problems and lack of internet in some cases. The platform has recorded applications from the country’s most remote areas. In addition to that, it is a fact that the number of citizens filing their complaints with the platform is growing, including Albanian citizens currently living in other continents, who for years have failed to solve problems of this kind as they never had access. Such access is fully granted today. It takes three minutes only to access and file the complaint either from Albania, Europe or the United States, and access is granted to everyone who lodges the complaint with the relevant minister. It is not a process as it historically has taken place through the so-called letters from the people, or the public relations office that traditionally dragged these complaints on for years. It is a direct contact with the relevant minister.
At the weekly cabinet meetings, every minister reports over each case the citizens address to the ministry he or she heads, and each cabinet member is obliged to personally monitor the progress of each of these cases and receive a weekly report.
The other platform coordinator is Juneta who is responsible to tackle not only individual complaints, but also community issues.
Juneta: I am pleased to introduce the case of Mr. Lutfi Leka, whose request, in close cooperation with the power distribution operator, OSHEE, has been full met and power supply has improved for the whole community, which includes some 110 families. I would also like to underline that a series of investment are being implemented in this area and it is set to complete in 2019 to ultimately solve the problem for around 60 thousand residents. The demands for such investment, although cannot be immediately tackled, but the platform is the right address where these demands assume the deserved attention and are forwarded to relevant institutions to include them into their priority agenda.
Lutfi Leka: Greetings everyone. I come from the area of Kombinat. Frankly saying I decided to file my complaint with the Platform following the Prime Minister’s insistence, who always urged citizens to do so. I had a very good communication and I received a timely response, as OSHEE intervened in the outdated power network, which had not been repaired for over 30 years. As many as 120 families have benefited after the network was repaired. I would like to invite all Albanian citizens to join this platform and have their own and the community problems solved. There is nothing else I can say but publicly appreciate Mr. Prime Minister.
PM Edi Rama: Of course, appreciations are always welcome and there is no one who does not take pleasure at hearing someone extending his or her thanks, but I, without pretending to be modest, like to underline that this has been my promise and fortunately we live today at a time when technology provides us this opportunity. Perhaps it would have been a completely different, a much longer and a much more hard-fought battle as it used to be in the past. The administration and the public service offices have always been a serious problem in Albania, because it is all about building functioning system, it is a matter of education and approach to the people and it is a process that actually takes too long. But the today’s technology, the opportunity to gain access to internet in real time just by using the smart phone and forward the complaint to the relevant minister, allows us to take an extraordinary step within an incredibly short time and climb over mountains of traditional hurdles in the relations between the citizens and the public administration. I insist that by understanding all scepticism, understanding all the irony, understanding all the ridicule, because in Albania we are already used to such ridicules when things do not always go perfectly well, but on the other hand facts are facts.
10 thousand cases alone are too few in terms of what we can do and I am pretty confident this figure will go much higher. However, this number is meaningful, because thousands of people solve problems they inherit for years and. These are problems that may not impress those behind an administration desk, but that can cause great undeserved distress in many families.
Ernest, the platform coordinator at the Ministry of Interior: Allow me to avail myself of this opportunity and invite all Albanian citizens, either here in Albania, or abroad, to make use of the co-governance platform. It is true it takes just three minutes to register and the 10-day deadline is probably shorter to receive a response. Around 95 percent of the requests and complaints lodged with the Ministry of Interior have already received positive response.
Flogerta is attending this meeting on her father’s behalf who had a problem with the personal number on his identity card. For a relatively long time, he was denied any public or private service due to his identity card problem and he was forced to file his complaint with our platform and his problem was solved within 72 hours. He was also provided with an official document to benefit public and private services.
Flogerta: I am here today on my father’s behalf and explain his problem that has been ultimately solved. He filed a complaint with the Portal and received the due response in less than 72 hours. He had been striving for a long time to tackle the problem, but the response was quick followed by the formal procedures that lead to the problem solving. My father is not here today, but I would like to say he is really pleased as he can now benefit all the previously lacking services, either at the state or private institutions.
PM Edi Rama: This is a typical example of a completely undeserved torment just because a single letter missing in his personal identity card. Just imagine that this girl’s father has suffered for months and months long as he couldn’t’ solve this problem. That’s why I insist for everyone to understand that the government today is in their own hands, in their phones and they can set the government in motion to tackle a seemingly minor problem, but that can be a huge and distressful one for individuals and their families as they are denied access to any public or private service.
Egesta, coordinator at the Ministry of Finance and Economy: Let me share with you the case of a citizen, who is with us today. That is the case of Mr. Hidri, who has the status of persons with disabilities and who addressed the Co-governance Platform in May, since ten years worth of social insurance contribution period were missing. After addressing the platform, the citizen had his problem solved and his pension payment was increased. The citizen got what he deserved and I avail myself of this opportunity to express appreciation to Mr. Hidri and many other citizens of a certain age group for lodging their complaints with the Co-governance Platform.
Hysni Hidri: I come from Librazhd and used to work as an OSHEE specialist. I contracted disease and I underwent three heart bypass surgeries. I was eligible for the status of persons with disabilities. After that I found that 10 years worth of my social insurance contributions were missing. That’s why I filed the complaint with the Platform and my problem was solved. I am very happy now.
PM Edi Rama: Mr. Hidri’s example is one of the many typical cases regarding the retirement documentation already solved by the Ministry of Finance and Economy. Many retirees suffer from many inherited problems. The reason I want to thank you for presenting this case is because this is the case to call on all pensioners and their families to address the Platform in order to receive the right response for the required documents to recalculate the pension payment. The Platform is a state mechanism, an innovation that merges all public relation offices into one online application.
We are very pleased that others from foreign countries have expressed interest in the Platform and explore opportunities how to apply it in their own countries, but it is in our interest to make this innovation fully operational and urge people to criticize us, express their resentment toward the government for things going wrong in the administration and lodge their complaints with the Platform in order to solve their problems. There are of course cases that cannot be solved via the Platform and these cases include judicial cases since the government cannot solve them, but it can successfully tackle the unsolved problems related to pension payment, the property ownership documents. Thanks to the Co-governance Platform, these families have received their property title deeds, the small community in Kombinat have solved the power supply problem they suffered for many years. The road to the Platform is the shortest possible and the most direct possible way to put the government in motion, avoiding bureaucrats and long procedures and paying bribes. All you should do is to address the platform and it takes just three minutes to put the cabinet members in motion.
Artan Malaj: I just received a legalization permit today. I say today because time is the most valuable thing a man can have. With regards to the Platform, of course it won’t bring all that wasted time back, but it will certainly spare you the distress associated with waiting. My father applied for the legalization of our house since 2005.
PM Edi Rama: What really happens either in case we just heard or in the case of our Platform friend from the city of Pogradec is that an administrative investigation is launched right way to identify the persons who are to be held responsible for the delays in addressing your problems. These persons may be removed from their job position, face lawsuit or be warned to be laid off.
So thank you once again for being here and sharing with us your personal experience, since whatever I say, whatever the Platform coordinators say it remains under an unillustrated communication process. I would also like to appreciate the Platform coordinators. We will hold such a process on weekly basis in order to raise awareness, provide more information and gain broad public trust and the Platform is the one of the right keys to open the doors to the future and build a more responsive public administration that fully serves and delivers service to citizens and to the public.
Thank you very much!