Posted: 6. September 2018

Concrete accounts of co-governance with ordinary citizens

Prime Minister Edi Rama at weekly meeting with coordinators and ordinary citizens who share their accounts of how the online platform for co-governance with citizens entitled “Albania We Want” has helped them to address pending problems at the state offices:

 

Prime Minister Edi Rama: Thank you very much to all fellow citizens, who are participating in this weekly event under the co-governance platform to share with us their own experience and accounts that significantly contribute towards strengthening the platform in the entire scope of our interaction, because these are accounts told by individuals whose problems and complaints have been already addressed via the platform.

I would like to reiterate my weekly message to all citizens not to lose more time and avoid the distress of long delays and undeserved foot-dragging experiences, but immediately access the online platform and stop opting for the old traditional ways to solve their problems with the state and government offices through the middlemen, party or bribery and corruption. It takes 3 minutes only to access the platform “The Albania We Want” and a minimum of courage to fight for a right that many citizens have been denied by either state or local agencies for too long and set the relevant cabinet member and the government’s entire legal and administrative mechanism in motion so that not a single citizen is not left alone, but has the government on his or her side to solve and address the problem. On the other hand, accessing the platform also represents a direct contribution to the legal crackdown on anyone working in the state administration but who have failed to do their job in delivering public services. It is a contribution towards cleaning and ridding the state administration of irresponsible and parasitic employees, and individuals, even merely lazy ones, who instead of providing and delivering decent services to the citizens, they become a cause for delays, distress and consequences to the everyday lives of ordinary families of this country.

I would like to invite Entela to introduce an issue we constantly deal with and it is not a coincidence we always seek to call witness, as we are trying to convey the message that the issue of pension recognition and pension benefit calculation is completely solvable. I call upon any retiree who sometimes run into obstacles when dealing with the social insurance offices to immediately and without hesitating address the platform, pledging they will be granted what they deserve within a very short period of time.

Entela, co-governance coordinator: Greetings everyone! Mrs Luljeta Karreci is here with us today to share her account and experience with the co-governance platform. Mrs Luljeta accessed the co-governance platform after exhausting all means of administrative appeal with the social insurance institution and after receiving a negative response over the recognition of six years’ worth in social insurance contributions. After lodging her complaint with the co-governance platform, the issue was reconsidered by the Tirana regional office of the Social Insurance Institute and reviewed the contribution period by including the six missing years’ worth in social contribution and the pension benefit rate was recalculated. As a result, Mrs Karreci benefits a higher pension payment and it has also received the whole missing amount from its pension rate since the time of initial incorrect calculation.

Mrs Luljeta Karreci: Greetings! I retired a year and a half ago. The entire required documentation was correct and well preserved. I had received the due employment certificate and other certificates from 1994 onward issued by the institutions I worked since then. The social insurance institution officials refused to recognize a period of my social insurance contribution, arguing they were unable to retrieve the payrolls. Every document was authentic, bearing the due stamps. However, I pursued legal path. The final response confirmed that the Social Insurance Institute was not going to recognize six years’ worth of social contribution. One day, while watching, I listened the Prime Minister while on a visit to Vlora presenting a similar case of a lady, who had her problem solved. I asked myself, why not to try and access the platform? And I did. I have the matter of my employment seniority years finally resolved. Therefore, I would like all citizens to address the platform to have their problems solved within a very short period of time.

PM Edi Rama: I am very pleased another more case has been resolved. On the other hand, I would also like to express my appreciation for taking the trouble to attend this meeting after having your own problems already solved, because you could have well said: “I’m not going to the trouble to talk about something I barely got rid of. By attending and addressing this weekly meeting you may help us to make the others believe this is not a propaganda as it may sound when listening the co-governance coordinators speaking, but it is a real working platform and they can follow your lead to access the platform.

Of course, the Immovable Property Registration Office and the ALUIZNI Agency work together with us on this path. Countless complaints, claims and requirements have been filed with the two agencies. First I would like to highlight that we are already seeing improvements with the central and local government agencies acting more responsibly towards the citizens’ demands, but a lot remains to be done and there are still cases of irresponsibility which we address immediately then.

I will give the floor to Fatmir, who will present Latif’s case and at the meantime I would like to reiterate that after a certain case has been tackled, an administrative investigation has been launched shortly after to look into those responsible for the delays and procrastination. A series of disciplinary and punitive measures are applied against anyone who are found to have unjustly affected an individual or a family making request to receive a deserved public service.

Fatmir, co-governance platform coordinator: Today’s case is about Mr. Latif Alia, a Rrogozhina municipality resident. His case concerns the Regional Immovable Property Registration office in Kavaja, with which Mr. Alia filed an application to register the due legalization permit for his property, but he failed to do so even after by lodging two administrative complaints against the aforementioned regional office. Therefore, he accessed the co-governance platform and following the procedures pursued by the Co-governance Office, he now has been provided the due property ownership certificate.

Latif Alia: On 25th of January, I filed the legalization permit and applied for a property ownership certificate. But such a document was not provided even after a series of requests I made. Then I addressed to the Complaint Office in Kavaja and I was told I have to wait for another month. I addressed this office a month later and again I was told that my request had yet to be considered. Watching on TV that the co-governance platform was really helping citizens to address these problems, I followed the others’ lead accessing the online platform. And I was granted the due property ownership certificate within a very short time and I would like to express my appreciation for the co-governance platform coordinators for this. Thank you very much!

PM Edi Rama: This is yet another case concerning the Immovable Property Registration Office, but registering the agricultural land in accordance to the Law 7501 represents an old inherited problem. But this is also part of the government’s ambitious objectives to ultimately complete this process. This is the reason I believe the next case that Oriona is about to introduce is of a particular importance, either to convey the message to rural residents that the platform is totally available to them, or to raise awareness of all structures about the indispensability to react on time towards any agricultural land registration request made by the rural households.

Oriona, co-governance platform coordinator: The case I will present concerns Mr Spiro Cobo, who has filed his complaint with the platform. Indeed, the issue has to do with one of Mr Cobo’s relatives, Todi Thomo, regarding the failure to register a parcel of land he had benefited under the Law 7501. In February this year, Mr Todi had made all respective payments and he was told that a due property ownership certificate would be issued by March. Indeed, it didn’t turn out that way as the relevant local office at Fier Municipality refused to communicate. It was then when Mr Spiro decided to address to the co-governance platform and a solution was found in ten days.

Mr Spiro Cobo: Actually, this story is a bit longer than that. This a problem lasting more than 17 months. The document files to register the land plot, and in parenthesis I have to say that the person I am representing has indeed benefited three parcels of land, and should he should prepare the documentation for each three in order to receive the land ownership certificate. The file was completed in March and 17 months have already passed since then. But it took just 17 days to solve the issue after accessing the co-governance platform. This is a matter of concern, but what concerns me most is the way that relevant administration works. I have been a public administration employee previously and I know the rules, but I was taken aback at the way the local specialists are used to shun the ordinary citizens there. I have evidence clearly showing how the local government officials, the regional Immovable Property Registration Office have communicated through official papers, but failing to address the matter. We paid the due tariff hoping that the property ownership certificate would be issued the official deadline on March 23. But, instead we received a request to provide the urban planning of the local administrative unit to the Immovable Property Registration Office. The urban planning cannot be provided by an ordinary citizen. It is the Municipality the institution that designs and provides such a document. But instead, I was asked to provide such a document. Finally, I decided to access the platform and the problem was addressed within ten days only. I filed the complaint and the problem was solved and I call upon others to follow my lead. You have launched this platform and I am confident it will yield good results, but there are members of the public administration too who do not trust the platform. I mean there are a lot of people who distrust it. But I think the platform really addresses the citizens’ problems. This is for sure. The regional Property Registration Office in Fier is totally disorganized. The platform addresses the citizens’ problems. Those who decide to access the platform will certainly receive a response. In addition to this, I take this opportunity to speak up in the Prime Minister’s presence, because, given my age, I don’t think I would be ever given the opportunity to meet a Prime Minister again. The representatives and co-governance coordinators for another problem I will again forward via the platform are attending the meeting in this hall and this is very significant. I have been working as a petroleum engineer and I have been granted the oilman status. Same status has been granted to my 103-year-old father in law. When are these 103-year-old oilmen are set to receive the financial reward, because I will have enough time to benefit it? I avail myself the opportunity to present this issue at the Prime Minister’s presence because my colleagues would criticize me if I don’t. Thank you!

PM Rama: This is the case to find out something else about the platform of co-governance with the citizens and your colleagues should not wait for another colleague to take advantage of this meeting, but access the platform and ask for an interpellation with the relevant cabinet member instead, just like a group of MPs would do in such case. Your 103-year-old father in law can also access the platform to receive a response, certainly with your or a grandson’s help. Often there are complaints that not everyone knows how to use a computer, but in fact in each family there is a child who can solve this problem for all.

As for the administration, I very much agree and should the administration was not in the state we inherited, and if it were simple to change the administration, we wouldn’t have to launch the co-governance platform. The platform is an innovation thanks to technology and I have said and I repeat that there are 2 or 3 other governments that have asked for information as they face same problem with their own public administration.

Regarding the ALUIZNI agency and the Immovable Property Registration office, we need first and foremost to press ahead with a reform that is about to enter its second stage and adoption of a law that will provide for the merger of the two into a single institution. On the other hand, the entire mapping system and the discrepancies between various maps, which you have certainly encountered in the process, is a serious problem that needs to be solved as soon as possible, because asking an ordinary citizen to provide the city’s urban planning is an absurdity.

The process has been already launched, while a monthly meeting is held with the heads of central and regional Immovable Property Registration offices and the ALUIZNI agency. I had a meeting with them two days ago and a number of precise objectives have been set to address this month all claims and overdue complaints, as well as all legalization permits that are piling up. People are experiencing stress, because they have received legalization permits but still they cannot register their houses. We have set clear objectives and every director of these offices will be held accountable for failing to meet these objectives. Whoever fails to achieve the objectives will be fired from his or her post. It is a process. It is not merely a matter of replacing someone with someone. I have repeatedly said this is a matter of system built and established over years, an inherited disease that takes great efforts, strong determination and patience. After all, the administration is the state itself. Building an administration that responds in real time, as today’s platform does, is not just for the sake of saying so, but it’s a huge challenge.

Thank you for coming and for the messages you conveyed at this meeting. Dealing with the difficulties set up by the public administration makes you a skilled orator.

Albana is about to introduce another case on which I was personally involved.

Albana, coordinator of the co-governance office: The case I am about to introduce today concerns the local government, the Municipality of Lushnja notably. The staircase of the Xhafa family’s house were demolished as part of a road expansion project. The affected family faced a daily problem. After six months of efforts to change the situation and solve the problem, Leandro, who is attending the today’s meeting, accessed the platform by filing a complaint over the long delays and failure from the local government authorities to address the matter. The Co-governance Office set up a working group and, in collaboration with the Municipality of Lushnja, the staircases were rebuilt and the situation was tackled once and for good.

Mr Leandro Xhafa: Greetings everyone! My situation is a bit complex since a very good road rehabilitation project was underway. But such projects should not add to the families’ woes. My house’s staircases were demolished upon our approval. It was not a big deal, except for the fact that we had to enter the house through staircase. My parents in their sixties live in that house. To solve the matter, a temporary wooden structure was built, but climbing the staircase was really a challenge when raining. Four months have passed, but no solution was found, although the public administration officials try to be kind with us anytime we ask for their help. But six months passed and my elderly parents were forced to climb the wooden staircase. I decided to access the online co-governance platform and the staircases were built within two days. It took two days only and I believe the problem has been addressed ultimately. I would like to express gratitude to all those who deal and try to tackle our problems. Thank you!

PM Edi Rama: Thank you very much Leandro. Unfortunately, we have to deal with the staircase construction too, although this is a tiny problem if compared to the whole society’s problems, but it is of course a mammoth problem to the individuals who need a staircase to enter their own home. What you already said is completely true, because when we say it will take just a week to solve your problem via the platform, it really takes only a week and not a year. It’s a door that opens in three minutes, a door that never slams to in anyone’s face and is a door that never shuts until a solution is found.

For the sake of truth, we face a serious problem with the local government units. Each month we take stock of the platform’s performance and only one of its sections fails and that is the section of the local government units, because the local government officials usually don’t bother to send a reply. I have already stated and I want to reiterate that I will be forced to mention them by name, because we can’t be held responsible for something we are not tasked with. Should the municipal authorities do not bother to provide a response – and this is all about the citizens’ problems – and should there be still municipalities dividing the citizens into “ours” and “theirs”, or that release their frustration at citizens, then this is a terrible misfortune for these communities that have elected such mayors. I call upon all mayors, especially the mayors representing the opposition, to put in place all measures and answer to the complaints filed with the platform and refrain from saying “we are being attacked on political grounds.” Otherwise, we will name them one by one for each case of the citizens, who haven’t received a response by the platform because of the refusal of these mayors. Just like every cabinet member works to tackle the citizens’ problems, every mayor should also immediately act to consider and solve each request and complaint filed with the respective Municipality. The number of responses from the municipalities is disappointing, while the relevant ministries have addressed 100 percent of the complaints. Each cabinet member has to report at the government’s meeting about each case they tackle or fail to resolve on time.

Aleko, co-governance coordinator: The case I want to introduce has to do with the unnecessary long delays and the difficulties a business has to deal with in Shkodra in order to be issued the license to provide vocational training courses. Mrs Merita Bekteshi, in her capacity as the business administrator, has applied to the National Business Centre in mid-April 2018 in order to receive the due licence. The license was initially issued but few days later it was revoked by certain structures at the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The reason behind the decision to revoke the license was that the business failed to meet the required criteria for this license. The business, despite few minor inaccuracies in its documentation, claimed that they possessed the capacities to operate under such a licence. There was the moment when the administration’s bureaucratic mechanism became operational. Mrs Bekteshi wandered around for months from one office to another, but without finding a way out. It took around three months, but to no avail. Finding herself in this situation, Mrs Bekteshi accessed the online platform that received her complaint and forwarded it to the Ministry of Finance. The request was considered and the business was provided the due licence.

Mrs Merita Bekteshi: The problem I had to deal with was failure to gain a licence for vocational training courses. I tried many times filing a request as an association and as a business. It was really tough. The fact that these vocational and professional training centres were allowed to operate s private entities and were provided more certification opportunities was hampered by bureaucratic procedures. I am not propagating, since I am not of the kind, but I chose to access the platform since I am familiar with the Internet and computer programs and the platform represents a great opportunity that is not offered even in Italy. It is a quite innovative and efficient solution and it overcomes many obstacles. Another reason I decided to access the platform is because when anytime I went to the regional directorate of the tax administration in Shkoder they called me “a tax administration spy”. I’m deeply grateful to the platform of the co-governance with the citizens, which is quite easy to access. Thank you!

PM Edi Rama: Thank you very much! Even you were to speak in the Shkodra dialect, the whole melody of that dialect would have been wholeheartedly welcomed.

Meanwhile, again another case unsolved by the regional Immovable Property Registration Office in Fier. The administrative investigation into that office should further deepen.

Katerina, co-governance coordinator: Greetings honorable Mr. Prime Minister! Greetings everyone! I would like to share with you two complaints which have been already addressed via the co-governance platform at the Ministry of Justice. First, the complaint was forwarded to the local Immovable Property Registration office back in October 2017 by Mr Refit Refitaj. I would like to emphasize that Mr Refitaj is not attending the today’s event due to his age, but he has been assisted by his son-in-law. After filing the complaint with the co-governance platform, Mr. Refitaj’s will to leave his wealth to his only daughter has been fulfilled now. After the case was forwarded to the local office of immovable property registration in Fier the latter failed to issue the required property ownership certificate. With the co-governance platform help a solution was found and it had to do with the regulation of the relationship between the local government and the local Immovable Property Registration Office. Refitaj is not attending the meeting and the whole case will be introduced by his son-in-law.

Refit Refitaj’s son-in-law: Greetings everyone. I’m here to represent my father-in-law who wanted to leave his wealth to his only daughter. After completing all procedures in the Municipality of Roskovec, he applied to the Immovable Registration Office since October 2017. The local officials at Roskovec Municipality and the Mayor herself have shown commitment to helping my father-in-law. Later he filed a request with the Agency for the Integrated Services Delivery (ADISA). A protocol number was provided upon application. The required document was meant to be issued within 15 days, but three months passed and no response was provided. We filed a new application with ADISA, but three more months passed. Then my father-in-law told me that he had listened the Prime Minister urging citizens to access the co-governance platform. I took the initiative and I filed the application with the platform. We received the initial response within a fortnight and the required documents were then finally issued 14 days later. He is really grateful to you all!

PM Edi Rama: The truth is that your father-in-law, not only has he received the required document, but he has also fired the director of the Fier Immovable Registration Office. I am saying this given the case of a 77-year-old man whose case you just introduced, because otherwise I would not announce his dismissal at this meeting, but we have recorded a considerable number of unsolved cases from the Immovable Property Registration Office in Fier. It was an earlier case also presented today and the following case too. When I came across the today’s report, I have called for the dismissal of the head of the Immovable Property Registration in Fier and for the launch of an administrative investigation into all those to be held responsible. Meanwhile, we are interested to distribute the parcels of land in the area as soon as possible. This is a fact! The platform, not only it addresses the problem, but it also helps us to figure out where to intervene thanks to the fact that the citizens access the platform without having to denounce corruption practices.

Therefore, the help and support is mutual in this respect. That’s why is called the co-governance with the citizens. It is something real and not a propaganda. It is not a slogan to show that we are working with the citizens, but it is a real thing. Your 77-year-old father in law has no power, has no access and knowledge about technology, but he is wise enough to tell you what to do.

Katerina, coordinator of the co-governance office: The next case that has been already solved via the co-governance platform at the Ministry of Justice is that of Mr. Vladi Fero, who is attending the meeting today. This very complaint has been forwarded to the local Immovable Property Registration in Fier and it had to do with the registration of agricultural land. Unfortunately, Mr. Fero was forced to address the platform only for the fact that he had applied several times to the local property registration office in Fier without finding a solution. He has now acquired the ownership certificates and he is today here to share this experience with us.

Mr, Vladi Fero: Greetings everyone! My case concerns the Immovable Property Registration Office in Fier too, to where I applied for the registration of two land plots but no solution was found. I have sent two requests to ADISA, but no response has been sent so far. I waited for seven months to no avail and finally I decided to access the co-governance platform. I received the property ownership certificates within two weeks. Thank you very much!

PM Edi Rama: You received the certificates and you also dismissed the director of the regional office. Let everyone know that each citizen has the power to fire every director, manager, public administration official and even every cabinet member if failing to provide an answer to the citizens’ complaints. However, the truth is that so far the cabinet members are seriously committed to address these matters as they report on the progress of the platform of the co-governance with the citizens every week.

The last case will be introduced by Albana and is related to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

Albana, coordinator of the co-governance platform: The case I will introduce refers to the complaints forwarded via the online platform of the co-governance with the citizens and are addressed to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. Mrs Lumturi Binaj is a working-age disabled individual who has been granted the status of blind and visually impaired persons. As a beneficiary under the disability benefit scheme, she had applied for her file to be transferred from Fier to Tirana back in November 2017. Recording the file took over six months and she did not receive the disability pension and the compensation covering a part of the power consumption during this period. Once the complaint was filed, the case was forwarded to the state social service and the case was solved. Mrs Binaj is represented by her son Erti Binaj.

Erti Binaj: As Albana explained the case concerns my mother who has gone blind from diabetic retinopathy and she has provided the required documents by herself. She asked for her file to be transferred from Fier to Tirana since last November. The file had been already sent to the social insurance institution here in Tirana, but the answer I always received was that the file was being processed by the audit specialists. It took six months, but no response was provided. Then I followed the lead of many other citizens and accessed the platform and the case was solved thanks to the Prime Minister and the whole staff of the office of co-governance with the citizens. Thank you!

PM Edi Rama: Thank you very much to each and every one of you for attending the today’s meeting and sharing your accounts with us. I said it at the beginning of the meeting and I will reiterate the fact that I really appreciate you for taking the trouble to come here, because by doing so you provide a valuable contribution. As you already mentioned the fact, by sharing your experience with us you also encourage others to follow your lead and access the co-governance platform. This is a great help!

To conclude, I would like to highlight the fact that as many as 17 075 direct complaints have been forwarded via the online platform as of August 31 and some 16 077 responses have been already provided, while 1 000 other cases are currently being reviewed. The platform receives an average of around 1 000 requests and complaints every week, including opinions and comments too. This number keeps growing. We are really interested for the number of complaints to increase, because the higher the number of complaints filed with the platform, the higher the pressure on the public administration to solve various cases. Therefore, we also speed up the process of raising awareness among the public administration to ensure public service delivery on time, or face the consequences.

Thank you very much!