Platform against corrupt officials

 

 

Prime Minister Edi Rama’s speech at the meeting with Coordinators of the Office of Co-governance with the people:

Hello everyone!

I am glad that today, here from the public library of the Prime Ministry, we can make it known through the eyes and ears of the public, not only that we are ready with a network of members of excellence to continue the work we have started in order to turn the online platform of co-governance with the people into an instrument in the hands of every Albanian who wants to contribute to making Albania better; but on the other hand, in our endeavour for the Albania that we want, with a state, work and welfare, have every Albanian stand against every official, every employee who prevents him or her to solve their problems and to fulfil their hopes and dreams.

We have launched the application process for members of this network of excellence, who are ready to begin work as part of the office of co-governance with the people since July 31st. By August 27, over 800 candidates applied with a motivation letter, except for the curriculum, and with two letter of recommendation, according to the recruitment standards for each position. A special organizing committee of this office has evaluated on the basis of the candidatures submitted, which – I am very glad to point out – were in a very high qualitative percentage, with academic qualification, professional experience, and adaptability to the mission of this organization.

After a first phase in which 120 candidates were selected, of whom 45 were shortlisted, the final interviews led to this result. All coordinators of this office are being intensively trained for the whole process and for the way applications, complaints and contributions of citizens in all the sections of the co-governance platform will be dealt with.

The 25 members of this organization, which is both a structure within the state and a network of volunteers to push forward an important process which is that of the interaction with the people, come as successful professionals in the private sector, or as individuals who have contributed to the public sector. Young men and women who have received a very good education in the country or abroad, with enthusiasm which is very important for this work, and with a background that leaves much to be hoped for. One of them comes from Indonesia, with a 15-year experience in international organizations.

The platform activity has started. It is still in the embryo, but even so, we have been able to ascertain the added value of this instrument, to give real-time responses and to address the complaints and requests of the citizens.

What has not worked so far, throughout the history of this transition, starting from this building, is precisely this, the fact that even the most important building of the Albanian executive has not been able to definitively answer the thousands claims or complaints of the people, because the process was built improperly. Many people send letters, many people submit complains, many people make requests at the door of this building, through the Office of the Public Relations, which is a mechanical transformation of the famous “Office of the people’s letters”. But what has happened to date is that all these letters, from the office here are taken to other offices and people are told “we sent your letter there.” So, it has become a dispatcher that has not managed to live up to the level of government’s ability to give final answers. People want answers. In fact, more than solving the problem or responding in time, this dispatcher has increased the waiting time.

The system, which will be put into operation today, is quite different, which means that people will receive answers through the platform. Ministers, rather than public relations office, will provide a direct response to each complaint, to any request and to the evaluation of any expression of interest for contribution.

It is the responsibility of every member of the cabinet to ensure that answers and solutions are provided for all cases where solution is possible, starting from the governing department he or she leads to all dependent structures. Of course, it may happen that a determined issue is to be addressed to one department rather than to another, or that it is to be addressed to the judiciary, to the legislative power, rather than to the government, because there is a legal deficiency.

In this platform, every citizen can accomplish what he or she wants to accomplish when s/he is activated to make a denunciation in the media, to make a denunciation through other channels of communication with an aim at bringing awareness to the government.

Of course, all denunciations in the media or anywhere else are welcome, but this platform creates the opportunity to solve it in close contact with the people in charge who, according to the Constitution and the law, are there to solve the problem, whether you are a family member or an entrepreneur hindered by an official, employee or state structure in the way of solving a problem. By using this platform, people get a weapon to fight for their rights and give themselves the chance to be with the government in this war.

This helps that the government, governance as a process, improves qualitatively in view of the people because it forces the government to provide answers. This also guarantees at the same time that the attempt to solve an inherited corruption problem in any state office where one or another employee or manager seeks bribes in exchange for what you are entitled to receive, is a successful attempt.

Once the platform is fully effective, it will be very clear to every employee, every tax agent, every customs agent, every police officer, every officer at a counter, that anyone who stands in front of them as a common citizen is potentially a member of this coalition, and the minister will be directly alerted if no explanation is provided in case of failure of response.

Not by chance, we have here some of the members of the cabinet in order to get in touch with the coordinators who will be deployed in their ministries, who are coordinators of the Council of Ministers, not ministry employees and are the minister’s right arm in relation to the citizens, in order to solve the problems of the citizens.

On the other hand, it is necessary to build trust in the first place, and this is very clear to all members of this new organization. I call it organization because, as we have pointed out since the first day, it is not just a matter of a state mechanism within the administration, but it is also a volunteering element of all these people whom you will know and see that they don’t come from the path of the banal request “I want a job”, but they are here because of the work they have done before, with the inspiration and the desire to serve in order to make this state much better for the citizens.

It’s not people’s fault if they don’t believe that this platform is something new and if they think that it is another online page or another portal where you can write as much as you want, where your words are not even read by anyone, let alone be taken into consideration and seen as an obligation to treat them with the utmost respect. Trust will be built only through success stories and through transparent reporting of the entire activity of this organization.

It’s not a screen, it’s not a website, it’s not another chat room, but it’s the face behind which there’s a lively body of people, a staff of people who will work day-night only to have considered with full respect everything that is put in that platform as an idea, as a claim, as a complaint.

Those who are part of this organization and who will give life to this struggle and to this effort, are at the forefront of this endeavour in order to bring innovation to it and not to let it fail, but to turn it into a new and modern instrument thanks to the high technology of good governance. And also give this government the opportunity to learn, understand and react based on a direct connection with people, and give people the opportunity to feel part of this endeavour.

Today, the privilege that the law gives every MP to get quick access to every government activity, but also to have the influence of recommending this or that person, is given by this platform to every Albanian citizen. Anyone who becomes part of this platform will have full access to the entire activity of this government. He or she will have full access to all draft decisions, draft laws, real-time government decisions, just like the MPs, provided that they are certainly interested in having these things. It will be a platform to discuss topical issues, to get the opinion of people we consider as members of the coalition, to make interpellations upon their request on that platform, and so on.

 

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To date, the system has been very dependent on subjectivism, or on goodwill. Meanwhile, the platform leaves no room for desire or subjectivism because it exposes all the points of a process and highlights responsibility at any point in the process, not just as a legal responsibility, but also as a direct executive and individual responsibility for every leader in an office, for every minister and, of course, for me personally.

The Council of Ministers is directly involved in this platform. This bureau of co-governance is not a classic Public Relations Office that does its best, when it does it, and still does not succeed. This office is the executive office of the Council of Ministers, in view and in support of average people, it is the bridge that creates direct communication between every citizen of the Republic, in Albania or abroad, with the respective minister, for a matter of his or her interest.

The matter might be of his or her interest in the sense of “I’d like to have my say in relation to a major issue”. The matter might be of his or her interest in the sense of the autistic child who cannot wait for the papers to come, or be dependent from the goodwill or the lack of will of John, Jerry and Jack Doe. There are hundreds of thousands of small problems, when we look at them from above, but which are vital to the person or family who has them. We cannot allow these vital problems to be at the mercy of goodwill or of subjective availability of an official, a director, an inspector, or anyone else.

I want to tell people: Do you hate corruption? Fight it! If this was empty words up until yesterday, today this is a real possibility for everybody to fight corruption not merely by denouncing somewhere to raise awareness in the government, but by making the respective minister his or her ally, his or her friend. This is the platform that makes the government the greatest friend. You don’t need to look for a friend anywhere else. The government is your greatest friend who will be put immediately in action as soon as it learns about your problem, and you’ll receive an answer as quickly as never before in the history of this country. However these are just words. There’s a large gap between words and deeds, but we will prove every day that these words are the mirror of deeds.

I am very thankful to all those who are here today, and I thank you. You don’t have to thank me. I am grateful to all of you who put this innovative project, your experience, and above all, your trust at disposal. Your trust that this instrument is worth it, is the greatest appreciation for it. Your trust should not only be disappointed, but it be strengthened, that’s why we are, my colleagues and I, but your trust must be someone’s trust every day.

There will be a first stage of scepticism, quite naturally, but through the success stories that we will publish continuously, the transparency reports that we will continue to do, little by little people will understand that the government is by their side. They won’t need to pay bribery anymore to someone who abuses their position, or someone who makes us all be ashamed. This is a call to the citizens. This is a call to the companies. This is a call to the owners of companies. We want every business to choose a way to get rid once and for all of everyone who shows up in the name of the state and abusively uses the power of the stamp and signature of their company in order to take bribes. Not only to take bribes, but also by violating the dignity, the required peace for people to do their job.

Having confidence in all of you and being assured that half of the work is done in every organization where women are the majority, I wish you success in your work!

Thank you very much!