From the speech of Prime Minister Edi Rama in the public hearing with citizens in Tirana:
After the elections of June 25 where we achieved an amazing result, we have engaged in a process never done before. It is the process of public hearings across the country to start building the basis of a great coalition, which will be the necessary force to tackle the very big challenges ahead of us. A great coalition with the ordinary people whom we want to make an active part of our governance.
This is not only because of the experience of the past, but also because it is innovative, it sounds like a way to communicate and to say that we are with the people and for the people. But actually that’s not all because I strongly believe that thanks also to the new technology, thanks to an increasingly massive use of internet, and thanks to the fact that more and more people have access to the internet through their smartphones or computers from home, it is entirely possible for us to create real co-governance where every individual who wants and has the willingness to become part of a large body of co-government between the Socialist Party that will govern without a coalition with other parties and the people themselves, can be a body that communicates in real time about problems, various government initiatives, government decision-making and, of course, the ideas and suggestions of the people themselves.
In-between ordinary people and the government there is an area where difficulties are countless, and where the main difficulty is taking a determined issue beyond an official or a leader who becomes an obstacle to solving the issue. This is entirely possible. We are building a platform that is the first of its kind to enable the registration of each individual as part of the body of co-governance through direct online connectivity, using this platform with the government.
These hearings are extremely important also to determine together the main priorities, in the sense that if we take one by one all the problems people of every community have, there are endless problems, just like in every house. And if each of us sorts out the problems every family has to solve in order to have a better life and greater security for the future of their children, the number of things we need to solve is greater than our opportunities. Then, just as in every home, we need to decide on the opportunities and the priorities, which is the first thing, the second thing and the third thing we can do. By doing these three things, we are empowered to do the others things, too.
I’m very confident that we will succeed in overcoming the barrier of doubt ordinary people have when they have to face the dilemma “should I pay bribe to somebody in the office and have the thing done, or go further and have what I’m entitled to without paying bribe?”
Unfortunately, in 99.99% of the cases this dilemma is always solved in favour of the first.
People would better pay bribes, have the case solved right then and there, instead of embarking on a story that not only bothers them but of which they’re also afraid. They’re afraid of never receiving what they’re entitled to if they raise their voice, because the official, the director or the respective structure will retaliate, but there’s also the anxiety of “spying”.
In fact, both have a foundation from the past, but neither of them is a normal civic behaviour in a European society. By having an open communication channel, by having a whole body of people who are registered as part of the joint governance without being MPs, ministers, deputy ministers or officials, then the general atmosphere for individuals or structures that does not serve people with dignity and legitimacy, becomes much more overwhelming as anywhere in developed countries.
Neither the Germans, the Swiss nor the French are spies. They’re good citizens who immediately inform the state authorities the moment they see that somebody violates the rules of coexistence and lessens the quality of his or her life or of their families. There cannot be a cop every 100 metres who checks on everything. There cannot be an inspector in every trash bin who checks who throws the trash in and who throws it out. There cannot be a guard in every corner who checks who puts on loud music while other people are sleeping. If citizens are such and feel it as their responsibility to protect themselves, their family and the community from the perpetrators of every level, then the body that defends the rules and the inviolability of ordinary people is far greater.
I’m sure that we will succeed in this step by step. The matter is that we do it as soon as possible, and not waste any day of the new mandate without taking a step forward in this direction.
I have followed attentively the reports that all the main delegates have made together with their teams, and it turns out that the biggest psychological burden on people is what we have already found: the inability to get a dignified service in real time, a dignified response from the state.
Not everything can be solved. Not everybody is right about everything. But everybody, even when they’re not entitled to what they ask for, has the right to get a dignified answer in real time, and be told that this cannot be done for this or that reason.
This process will go in parallel with a thorough reform of the administration. We have discussed it during the campaign, and in this regard I’ve told you that it can be done provided that you allow us to take the lead with nobody else in our way. Scrapping the pie-pan, as we say it in other terms. This will help a lot because it’s not only about the fact that people must to be involved, raise their voice and show their concerns, but it is also about how much the administration is ready to meet their needs. So, how the whole state administration will be rearranged, from the way the government is structured, which needs to be changed, to the way the whole work of MPs is structured, which needs also to be changed, and to the way every mechanism, every structure, every office is structured, which need to be changed as well.
I’m convinced that it is as difficult as much as it gets easier if we are together. I’m not saying this “we’re together” because it sounds beautifully, but because it is the only way. If somebody needs a document and reacts to protect his or her right, we must ensure that his or her voice will be heard to the highest level. This doesn’t mean that every minister will spend his or her day receiving text messages and complaints, but that the government will have a structure, ministries will have a dedicated structure to guarantee the joint governance, so that none of what will be launched in the internal system of the coalition by every member who is registered through the platform we are discussing and which will be thoroughly functional in September, is gone with the wind. Be known to every official that if they don’t respond correctly to the citizen he or she faces, that citizen is a potential member of this co-governing body, and he or she can report up to the minister in the respective sector. Of course, in terms of services.
Meanwhile the other aspect is that of priorities and the way these apply. If in your area it is determined that the main priority is “x” irrigation or drainage canal, or “x” water supply or road segment, and if it starts to be addressed by funding it, then people can still tell what is right or wrong with that project.
Many wonders have happened in this country. It is a fact that the money spent from the state budget, from the taxes, from the loans the state has received from the WB, etc. to build water supply systems in 25 years, would have been enough to build twice from scratch water supply systems across the country. Not only they have not been built, but things have gone worse in many areas.
The money spent in a quarter of century for the irrigation and drainage canals would have been enough to build them three times. There is not only corruption, but there is also a total lack of organization, quality, lack of following things step by step, from the project to the tender, the contract, the supervisor, until the works is delivered. Money has been wasted in every step, and it hasn’t necessarily been stolen. It is wasted because it has been misused. There are such examples in every sector.
Our challenge is to do more and do the right works with the money we have. If the people who voted us because of we have committed, but also those who didn’t vote for us become part of this endeavour, the image of the citizen will be strengthened in the eyes of the administration, and it doesn’t matter whether it is because of the fear that somebody is reporting, or because of the awareness that will be created step by step as all the claims, all the reports, all the cases will be reviewed step by step.
We have well-written laws or internal rules of the institutions, with a 7-day deadline for an application or a service. This means that an answer must be provided within seven days, be it “yes” or “no”. “No” is also an answer. These things can be done neither from above nor by dismissing people because they are caught red-handed. These things are done if we are together in order to create a spirit of co-governance where everyone feels part and where the state is mine as a common citizen when I need it. Of course, as a citizen you are obliged to abide by all the laws and rules that the state has imposed. But the state is of the citizen’s. It is not of whom is at the door of the state office where the citizen knocks. If he does not answer, he is not the state. It is simply an individual or a structure which the government should treat as a problem.
I strongly believe that making such a structuring, it will be beneficial in two aspects: we can save money that goes waste, salaries paid in vain to people who stay in cafes all day long, or who give people a hard time, but above all we can create a very positive sense of being part of the same society. It doesn’t matter if I am “nobody”, because I have the state with me. When I ask the state what I’m entitled to, the state will give it to me and it won’t matter whether I’m in the countryside or in the city, whether I’m rich or poor, whether they know me or not.
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