Co-Governance Platform, 33 336 requests, cases and complaints

Prime Minister Edi Rama’s weekly meeting with common citizens sharing their accounts on how through the help from the online platform Albania We Want have solved various personal and community problems:

Prime Minister Edi Rama: I would like to offer a warm welcome to the guests, who will convey the message of availing themselves of the Co-Governance Platform’s benefits. We insist during this weekly event as we see it as a crucial instrument to provide our fellow citizens the opportunity to share their accounts on their experience with the Platform and urge other citizens to stop seeking other outdated ways through influential friends, political parties, or pay bribes in exchange of a public service you are entitled to benefit and instead address immediately to the online Platform “Albania We Want” should the state offices fail or refuse to act and respond in a timely manner.

I would invite Fatmir to introduce the today’s first case.

Fatmir, Co-Governance Platform coordinator: The today’s case concerns Mr. Albert Kocani, a resident from Fier. The complaint he had filed with the Platform on November 21 last year was about the failure of the regional Immovable Property Registration Office in Fier to register his property. In July 2018, Mr. Kocani had applied with the Registration Office to receive the property ownership certificate. Facing the local office’s failure to act, he addressed the Platform by end of last November to go on with the further procedures. He received the property ownership certificate in early December following the Platform’s intervention. However, the information contained in the property ownership certificate was wrong and he had to address the Platform again in order to have the certificate records corrected. With the Platform’s help he has finally been provided the corrected version of the certificate.

Mrs. Katerina Kocani: I am here on my father’s behalf. The reason we accessed and filed our complaint with the Platform had to do with the problems we faced when demanding a property ownership certificate. In addition to the long delays, we noticed that the information contained in the certificate was wrong. Therefore, we had to address the Platform again in order to correct the certificate records. The corrected version was then provided within a short time. Thank you!

PM Edi Rama: The cases concerning the property rights and problems with the Immovable Property Registration Offices and the Agency for Legalization and Urbanization of the Informal Buildings and Areas (ALUIZNI) are omnipresent in each weekly meeting. However, I would like to highlight the fact that despite the continuous problems of this kind, based on the concrete data from these offices, we have recently noticed a significant improvement in performance, the service delivery and relations with the public and citizens concerning their rights. This clearly means that the co-governance pressure is working. This also means that employees and officials are gradually becoming aware of the fact that each citizen, no matter how weak, vulnerable and helpless may seem, if he addressed the Platform he becomes more empowered and he not only earns his right, but he also can send any official to the path towards administrative punishment. Of course, this is the flip side of the coin with not only the citizens being ensured to gain their right, but also with the administration being aware of the need to react, further improve and understand its role and duties.

Albana, Co-Governance Platform coordinator: The case I am about the introduce has to with ALUIZNI, another institution facing the largest influx of complaints filed via the Platform. Mr. Hasan Stolja is a Tirana resident, Kodra e Priftit neighborhood. He had applied for a legalization permit and facing long delays, he finally knocked on the right door. He accessed and filed his complained with the Co-Governance Platform and a final solution was found. He has already received the legalization permit, while procedures are underway to provide him the property ownership certificate.

Mr. Hasan Stolja: You are a true statesman, Mr. Prime Minister! Thank you for the invitation to attend the today’s meeting. I have been wandering about to legalize my and parents’ property since 2005. But it was just thanks to this new Platform and thanks to this man, I have finally received the document.

PM Edi Rama: Thank you very much for the compliments. Of course, every human being is pleased with accolades, but, not in a gesture of formality but for the sake of truth, I would like to point out that I am not to be credited with this achievement, as this is the result of the trust that has been invested in this process and the result of the vote for the Socialist majority that cleared the way for this process to happen. It was a process that was initially derided and continuously treated with cynicism, even randomly seen as extralegal, yet it is the process that tackles thousands of inherited problems that would otherwise haven’t been never be addressed. This is a process that is empowering thousands of citizens thanks to their “great friend”, which is the government and which becomes immediately available as soon as a citizen accesses and sends his complaint via the Platform Albania We Want.

In the meantime, we should establish a working and functioning system by merging both the Immovable Property Registration Office and ALUIZNI to create a single agency that would put an end to the ping-pong between the two during the past 20 or so years and ensure faster and better service delivery to the citizens. The process will take its time, but the citizens and their problems can no longer wait. Therefore, the Platform is available to them so they establish direct contact with the government, which instantly becomes their ally.

All these cases concerning the property right, including your concrete case, are cases that thanks to the Platform set the Minister of Justice immediately in motion along with the structures within co-governance team and turn the citizen from an ill-treated individual for years in the corridors of the administration into a fully respected citizen who, in ten days only, earns what he had been denied and deprived for 10 or 15 years. This is the essence.

Flamur, the Co-Governance Platform coordinator: The case I will introduce today concerns a citizen residing in Shkoze neighborhood, Tirana. In 2005, Mr. Gjata had applied with Tirana-South ALUIZNI office to legalize his house, but the response he received for 13 consecutive years was that his file was being reviewed, while his neighbors had been all granted the legalization permit. Failing to find a solution, Mr. Gjata filed his complaint with the Platform in October 2018, and, thanks to the collaboration between our coordinator and ALUIZNI office, the due legalization permit was issued in December.

Mr. Mahmut Gjata: I am a Shkoze resident. I had applied for the legalization permit back in 2015, but since then I wandered around for 13 years from one office to another and I was finally out of patience. I addressed to the Platform and a solution was found in ten days only. I would like to wholeheartedly appreciate the Prime Minister and his staff. I have filed another complaint with the Platform as sewage from the blocked manholes flowed into the streets. A solution regarding this issue was found within three days.

PM Edi Rama: Thank you very much for the praising statements, but this instrument has been developed thanks to the citizens’ support to the idea for the co-governance. A lot of work has to be done by us. A lot more steps are needed to be taken. We need a lot of patience, but one thing is for sure that if we are to talk about relations with citizens, they are like never before. We have established direct relationships of ordinary citizens wherever they are, inside or outside Albania, with the cabinet and the cabinet members. It has never been like this before and thanks to the technology, what used to serve as the public relations offices or the complaints offices, they have already become a very simple instrument in the pocket of every citizen who owns a smartphone. Others can visit postal service offices, the administrative units or the co-governance offices already operational all over the country to assist common citizens to access the Platform and have their problems addressed accordingly.

Juela, Co-Governance Platform coordinator: I will introduce the case handled by the Ministry of Finance and Economy on employment of Mr. Ermir Bibaj from the city of Shkodra. He had failed to find a job for years, but after accessing the Co-Governance Platform, the Employment Service in Shkodra helped him to find a job placement as a security guard.

Mr. Ermir Bibaj: A addressed the Co-Governance office in Shkodra after failing to find either a full or part-time job. They told me to apply with the local Employment Office in Shkodra and finally I have a full-time job. I would like to express my appreciation to your wonderful staff!

PM Edi Rama: It is important that a message regarding the National Employment Service is conveyed to everyone. The National Employment Service has undergone a fundamental transformation and it has already helped thousands of individuals to find a job during last year. More than 30 000 jobless people found a job through the assistance of the National Employment Service during last year. And I am not citing the findings of labor surveys, but official data on the number of employed people on the payrolls. I am talking about registered workers, who pay the social and health insurance contributions and income tax when their monthly salaries range over 30 000 lek, as no income tax is paid in the Republic of Albania for salaries less than 30 000 lek.

But, on the other hand, it also happens that the jobseekers who ask for the National Employment Service help are often “forgotten” and that’s why I am calling on everyone to not hesitate and address the Co-Governance Platform, which, thanks to its team, instantly remind the employment office of everyone who is still waiting for their reply. This is I guess the case of Mr.s Bibaj, just like many other similar cases, but we are ready to do a lot more through the Platform, should the citizens do not hesitate to address it about cases that need the National Employment Service assistance.

Flavia, Co-Governance Platform coordinator: The case I will introduce today concerns Mr. Dashnor Bala. He encountered problems regarding the 45-day announcement of his property by the Kashar administrative unit. The problem was that the elder of his village where his property is located refused to sign the announcement verbal process. Shortly after addressing the Co-Governance Platform, the case was handled in collaboration with Kashar administrative unit. Since the complaint was forwarded by the Co-Governance Office, the local authorities in Kashar sent an official letter, asking him about the reasons behind his refusal to sign the verbal process. Given that the person in question had no objective reasons to do so, he finally signed the document and the announcement was made for 45 days. In addition to that, the practice on Mr. Balaj’s property was forwarded to the Immovable Property Registration office to carry on with the normal process.

Mr. Dashnor Bala: My property was to be verified by the respective officials at the administrative unit. There I met with the elder’s refusal to sign the document and asking for more time to do so. Therefore, I decided to address the Platform and with its help the verbal process was finally signed and the documents have been already sent to the Property Registration Office.

PM Edi Rama: It is worth pointing out the incredible influx of requests or complaints the Platform tackles in order to create a clearer picture on the volume of work and the facts that we present each week here are typical examples of a long string of human stories that have to do with the Platform’s work. A total 33 336 various cases, requests and complaints have been registered since the Platform was launched.

The cases concern the state administration and public institutions at a central and local level. As many as 28.565 cases and complaints have been addressed to the central institutions, with 27.335 of them already handled by the Platform. So it is a small difference between the complaints and the cases currently being reviewed.

A new section called “I am a Student and my question is” has been recently opened on the online Platform as part of this important stage of a newly launched transformation regarding the relations between the government and the university and the support we will provide to the university and higher education system. The new section has been launched to allow students make questions and file their complaints over the deficiencies and problems they face with the university secretariats regarding delays due to the paralyzed teaching process.

Around 900 questions have been forwarded via the Platform and only 20 of them have not been already addresses as they are currently being processed by the Ministry of Education. I would encourage everyone to keep writing and tell them that despite current problems, which are natural, understandable, the university secretariats find it still difficult to adapt to the new rules. The government commitments regarding the tuition fees, the scholarships and every other aspect are no longer just promises, but decisions that will be enforced one by one.

The only problem is that in order for us to disburse entire funding to the universities, we need to have accurate student lists regarding their performance and social and economic situation. This process has taken time for the university secretariats and that’s why we have asked to extend the deadline.

Likewise, we will also postpone the deadline for applications via the employment portal as many best performing students with a grade point average 9 and 10, who want to apply for a job position in the public administration have failed to provide the whole required documentation. Therefore, we will postpone the application deadline to provide everyone the opportunity to apply for a position in the vacancies that have been already announced.

Around 800 vacancies for both master and bachelor degree holders in the public administration are available in the public administration. More vacancies will be announced for best performing students who will be graduated this academic year.

To conclude, I would also like to point out the fact that some 643 disciplinary actions have been enforced following administrative investigations after the citizens have gained their right. Almost half of the disciplinary actions have resulted in dismissal of the responsible employees and officials. So, around 300 individuals have been dismissed following the investigation for failing to tackle the citizens’ problems.

It clearly demonstrates that what we say about empowering citizens’ rights through the Platform is something concrete and real, materialized in the everyday life of the administration.

Thank you very much again for taking the trouble to come here and share your concrete accounts and experience with the common citizens of this country that the Co-Governance Platform is their most powerful weapon to break the siege of bureaucracy and injustice that unfortunately are still to be found in the relations between the public administration and the citizens.

Thank you very much!