Posted: 11 September 2019

Over 51 000 citizens’ complaints processed by Albania We Want Platform

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

Prime Minister Edi Rama: Hello everyone and thank you for your presence!

Today we are holding the weekly co-governance meeting, but before inviting the citizens to take the floor, I would like to underline that the Platform has addressed more than 51 000 various complaints to date. The majority of complaints concern both central and local government and they include also other kind of complaints filed by students who are interested in the Pact on University, questions, ideas, suggestions by other citizens on behalf of their communities. Most recently, a new section dedicated to business has been included on the online Platform in order to provide direct and swift access to government to all individuals dealing with business to report any problems they face when dealing with the public administration and every pending issue concerning their businesses.

I would like every businessmen and business operator to download the smartphone app Albania We Want and waste no time at all by waiting to work out their problems and find a delayed solution in their obsolete, unfortunately traditional fashion, but instead spend two or three minutes alone and a cabinet member or relevant authority will side with them and they will find out for themselves that a real time solution will be found. On the other hand, they will also provide a great and precious contribution as we will be able to identify no only problematic aspects of the administration’s functioning structure, as well as the problematic individuals, who cause unjustifiable delays.

I strongly believe that launching the special business-dedicated section on the online co-governance platform is a new significant window to really further strengthen partnership between the government and any fair business. Especially at this crucial stage of the great anti-informality crackdown and fair businesses, which fortunately account for the majority of business operators, are constantly threatened by unfair competition of those who seek to escape the law and involve in tax evasion practices.

I am now going to invite Lediana to introduce the first case of today’s meeting.

Lediana, Co-Governance Platform coordinator: Mr. Muhamet Trimi, a resident from Ndroq, Tirana Municipality, has addressed the Platform as his retirement payment doesn’t include all records of his insurance contributions and therefore he had asked for a recalculation of his retirement benefit and supplementary pension. The regional Social Insurance Directorate in Tirana reviewed his pension file and the pension payment was increased after a recalculation formula to include a social insurance contribution coverage of 47 years and six months from 41 years and 10 months previously. The original pension payment has increased, while the supplementary pension has been reviewed too. Mr. Trimi has also benefited a considerable compensation pay-out.

Mr. Shpëtim Trimi: My father, since he retired at 65 of age, has constantly complained over the calculation of his pension payment as his pension payment was almost halved from what he was actually entitled to benefit. Thanks to the Co-Governance Platform this problem has now been resolved and we would like to express gratitude for supporting us by granting my father what he actually deserves.

PM Edi Rama: Thank you very much for taking the trouble to come here. Please extend our best greetings and respect to your father.

Again, this is the case to emphasize that this Platform continuously helps retired people who are concerned about the calculation of their pension payment as, unfortunately, they face serious troubles when dealing with the employees at social insurance offices, where a reform has been launched, but it will certainly take some time to yield its proper and desired results.

I would like to make it clear to everyone, because I happen to randomly hear people saying this implies that the state, the institutions and state offices are non-functional and therefore everything is in the hands of a small group of people at the Prime Minister’s office. Of course, a number of these issues should be normally tackled by the state offices. But developed countries too, let alone Albania, do not have such efficient system to address the citizens’ problems.

The U.S. Senators and Congressmen receive countless letters. The U.S. President receives countless letters. And of course, the majority of these letters are sent from common citizens and individuals who complain and ask for the Congressmen, senators and the President’s help to resolve their problems and various issues, which, in their very essence, are pretty similar to the issues we tackle via the Platform. This is because no matter developed is a state administration, yet it is not a computer.

The world is naturally heading to complete digitalization and digital interaction among mechanisms of the public administration in order to avoid human subjectivity, but we still far from getting to that stage. We are in a transition period regarding this process too, if we are to the refer to the developed work prior to the internet invention, when whole process and procedures were based on papers and letters that were mailed to the high-level authorities. The same thing happens in France. The same happens in every other country, albeit with other kind of problems and different volume of work.

However, one thing is for sure. With the Platform we have brought about an epochal transformation to the system, because, until lately, countless letters were sent each month to the Prime Minister by thousands of citizens, but those letters, unfortunately, went stray from the right address. A few number of citizens have happened to receive a reply from these letters, because the Prime Minister’s office used to send them to the ministries and the letters were lost and forgotten inside drawers amid a pile of many other letters and therefore, no respond was provided to the complaining citizens.

While today it cannot happen that no respond is provided to any citizens who have lodged their requests with the Albania We Want Platform. Of course, not every reply is a positive one, because there are cases when a demand or a complaint is deemed not right, but the citizen always prevails when the problems he faces are triggered by the delays and inefficiency of the public administration. The same happens with the messages I receive via WhatApp. I see and hear people asking: “How comes? Why should always people contact you?” Whoever is given the opportunity to act and help, should do that immediately. Lawmakers, mayors, local authorities, directors and every other official should do this too. The majority of them don’t. But as far as the lawmakers are concerned, they have started to intensively make use of the Platform by forwarding any problem to it. It is the Platform the one to build a bridge between the common citizen and the state institutions via digital solutions and transparent ways, making sure that no message or letter is lost in bureaucracy labyrinths.

In more concrete terms, the case we just introduced concerned a retired man, who has had his pension payment recalculated, but he has also benefited a monthly pension hike of 100 000 lek, as well as a compensation pay-out 3.195 million lek, an amount he would have otherwise received each month should the pension payment was properly calculated. His right has been ultimately restored.

Enada, Co-Governance Platform coordinator: Back in 2006, Mr. Doda filled in the due self-declaration form to register his property. Despite having paid every fee, including the infrastructure tax, no solution was find to his problem. Under such circumstance, he entrusted the Co-Governance Platform and he was provided with the legalization permit within ten days.

Mr. Agron Doda: I filled in the self-declaration form for legalization of my dwelling in 2006. But no legalization permit was issued although I had paid all fees. Therefore, I addressed to the Platform. Three days later I received a phone call and the due legalization permit was provided. I have now filed a request for the property ownership certificate and I am looking forward to receiving the document soon. Thank you Mr. Prime Minister.

PM Edi Rama: I hope so too. If the property ownership certificate meets same fate, now you already know where to address to. Therefore, don’t waste time but file a request with the Platform. But I am confident the property certificate won’t meet the same fate, because the legalization and distribution of the property ownership go hand in hand at the newly-launched State Cadastre Agency. I mean, there are no longer two different institutions that play ping-pong with each other as it was the case over so many years. It is an institution within an institution and it is of course the same institution that cannot drag the process on by issuing the legalization permit, but refusing to issue the property ownership certificate. However, it takes just a click, and we will then deal with everything.

Enada, Co-Governance Platform coordinator: The next case concerns a citizen from the city of Shkodra. Mr. Rruzhdi Burdica had lodged a request with the Regional State Cadastre Agency in Shkodra to be provided a property ownership certificate. After a legal deadline passed and no service was delivered to him, he filed also an administrative complaint. Finding himself in the circumstances where every administrative means was exhausted, he finally decided to forward his problem to the Co-Governance Platform and on September 6 he was provided the due property ownership certificate.

Mr. Rruzhdi Burdica: I am very happy to be here with you at this moment. I would like to express my gratitude to the Co-Governance Platform. To illustrate this, I would like to tell you a story. A beech trunk, where I use to sit every day, is in my house yard. Most recently I have noticed a swarm of pests or vermin under the trunk. Curiously enough I found out that the pests had scooped out under the trunk and no matter how strong the trunk is, should this not pests are not eliminated, then somehow the trunk will rot the insects will remain right there. I hope the number of these bloodsuckers is small so that they are all squeezed. Thank you again.

PM Edi Rama: Thank you very much! I want to make you sure that I never needed to sit on a bench a take a close look to see what the pests do down there, because I can stay on foot and yet see what pests are doing down there. However, this takes tremendous patience and strong will, it takes time and sustainable systems. The Platform is one of those systems that paralyses the vermin and even squeezes some of them. I know that you are implying the very “pests” right in the Shkodra Property registration Office and God knows what you have been forced to put up with. However, we are keeping fighting, but we have also chosen to stick to Mother Teresa’s advice: “Why not light a candle rather than curse the darkness?”

Flavia, Co-Governance Platform coordinator: Mr. Isli Balla addressed the Co-Governance Platform filing a complaint on behalf of his mother, Mrs. Zyra Balla. She had been working for 45 years, mostly as a primary school teacher, and most recently as kindergarten teacher at Isuf Mecaj kindergarten in the village of Baldushk. In May this year, Mrs. Zyra retired, but the decision to terminate employment didn’t include an annual leave allowance for 2019. With the complaint filed with the Platform and the institutional communication with the relevant institute, the annual leave allowance was calculated and the due amount was transferred to Mrs. Balla’s bank account.

Mr. Isli Balla: I am here on behalf of my mother. After the pension-related problem, I decided to file a complaint with the Platform. Although seemingly a minor problem, I decided to address the Platform and a solution was found almost instantly. I would like to appreciate the Platform’s staff for this.

PM Edi Rama: It may sound a minor matter to you, but it means a lot to your mother. I would like to thank each and every one of you for taking the trouble to come and attend this meeting, after going through hard times and efforts to address your problems. But by doing so, you also have helped us a lot. It is quite a different thing when people watch me speaking on TV and when they see you speaking instead. Many might tend to say “these are merely politicians’ talks and that politicians are all the same.” But pests, animals and plants are not all the same. The same goes for the people and politicians. They can’t be all the same, and politicians are not the same. However, your accounts and the accounts of those who have previously attended such weekly meetings are helping a lot in the efforts to promote the Platform, not for propaganda purposes, as some uneducated “intellectuals” like to term it on their Facebook comments, but instead make it more present for the people and convey the message that the Platform is for real and entirely available to the citizens. In many cases we have come across people acknowledging: “I was listening someone speaking on TV.” They are no longer saying: “I watched you while speaking on TV, but a common citizen coming from a remote village, who enjoyed no support of whatsoever and was denied access to any state office that now stand on his or her side.

Whoever decides to ask for the Platform’s help is equally powerful as every lawmaker, and even sometimes more powerful than the cabinet members themselves, when the latter decline to answer the citizens’ phone calls. While the Platform always replies to the citizens.

Thank you very much again and I would like to invite you all to take the picture of the day together, while the Platform team members will have now to continue the fight to tackle problems of many other citizens.