'Public Service Is Governmentís Mirror'
By Genc Mlloja
Albanian Daily News
Published May 19, 2017

'Innovate or
die' was the leitmotif of the ministerial conference "Public Service
delivery across the Western Balkans" which was held in Tirana on Thursday
with Ms. Milena Harito, State Minister for Innovation and Public Administration
of Albania and the Regional School of Public Administration (ReSPA) as its
organizers.



Ministers Marta Arsovska Tomovska, Minister of Information
Society and Administration, Macedonia, Ms. Ana Brnabic, Minister of Public
Administration and Local Self- government, Serbia, Ms. Suzana Pribilovic,
Minister of Public Administration, Montenegro, presented current status of
service delivery reforms in their respective countries after the welcoming
speech held by Ms. Harito as representative of the host  country.



"The reform of the administration had the challenge of
changing the mentality for serving the citizens," said Ms. Harito as
particular emphasis was put during the Conference on the Albanian model being
currently implemented setting a new set of standards on public service
delivery, increased transparency, increased satisfactory on service delivery,
less waiting time, less corruptive practices, increased efficiency, as well as
lessons learned from challenges which emerged and their mitigation. 



"A special law was made on the public services to
overcome a situation in which there was absolute lack of services to the
citizens," Ms. Harito said, dwelling on the endeavor of the government to
reform the public service system.



She considered as a turning point in this field the
establishment of the Agency for the Delivery of Integrated Services in Albania
(ADISA), which is a state agency responsible for the delivery of public
services through setting up and administering service windows for citizens and
one- stop shop and in- one - place Citizen Service Centers. 



Referring to the practice followed in the revival of public
services models were sought in Georgia and Azerbaijan, unveiled Ms. Harito, who
hastened to explain what reasons stood behind that choice because, it was
natural, that many participants wondered why Albania, an EU candidate country,
did not eye patterns of the countries of the Western club. 



"The EU member countries have not had problems in that
field," explained the Albanian Minister who, in the meantime, expressed
the gratitude to the European Union for the financial support provided by it to
carry out that reform in Albania.



Being more concrete Ms. Harito brought as an example of the
positive results of the reform the question of property. "We started with
the Tirana Immovable Property Registration Office due to the fact that the
highest number of cases existed in Tirana. The reform was launched in 2015 at a
time when 40 percent of citizens' complaints were resolved in due time.  After four months from the start of the
implementation of the reform that percentage grew to 80 percent," she
said.



Since the fall of communism this Balkan country has been
faced with the question of property in general and property restitution as one
of the hardest challenges. The process of the legalization of informal
properties continues still remaining a serious social problem across the
country.



Macedonian Minister Marta Arsovska Tomovska brought the
experience of her country where, according to her, almost all the public
services had been digitalized. She paid special attention to the fact that
professional people were needed as staff in public service system.



"The public service is the mirror of the
government," underlined Ms. Tomovska.



In her contribution the Serbian Minister, Ana Brnabic
thanked her Albanian counterpart, Ms. Harito for bringing together all the
Balkan ministers because, according to her, all the regional countries had,
more or less, the same problems in the field of public service delivery.



"In this way it easier to solve the problems
together," she noted paying special attention that eGov should serve at
local and central levels. "Local government should provide the same
service as central government. This is what Serbia is trying to do in its
reorganization drive of public services," she said. 



Ms. Brnabic congratulated Ms. Harito for the excellent work
done so far bringing as an example the one- stop shop project.



The ministers, who incidentally were all women, shared the
common opinion that the regional cooperation should be strengthened and
according to them the Tirana Conference was an example. According to them, in
their exchanges of ideas they had benefitted from each- other's experience.
They also said that trainings of staff of public service system were of high
importance.



Government institutions are mandated by law to provide
services to citizens and businessesí institutions, it was said in the
Conference. Despite expectations of beneficiaries, based also on the experience
with customer service standards in the private sector, such as banks,
telecommunications etc. the problems they often encounter in interacting with
these institutions have to do in various degrees with lack of information,
transparency, accountability and efficiency, as well as cases of corruption.



In addition the ministers expressed the opinion that the
implementation of the public administration reform remained a key priority for
the accession agenda of the Western Balkan countries in the European
Union. 



Ministers from Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina did not attend
the conference because of domestic political problems in both countries, it was
officially declared at the outset of the Conference. Also, it was announced
that Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama, who was supposed to greet the
Conference, could not be present due to the latest political developments in
this Balkan country that is expected to hold general elections amidst a
political conflict between majority and opposition which struck a deal early on
Thursday morning.





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