€3.2 million from the EU for faster and better public services in Albania through e-Government (21/02/2012)

Tirana, 21 February 2012

PRESS RELEASE

In framework of the €3.2 million assistance of the European Union, the National Conference on Information Society was organised today to discuss Albania’s achievements and challenges in introducing e-services for both citizens and businesses. E-services have spread in many EU countries and have proven to be instrumental in cutting time and costs of service delivery.

Digitalising services for citizens and businesses means that all taxpayers receive their deserved services more quickly and more economically from government authorities. Not only do citizens and businesses save much wasted time and energy in queues, but under the counter payments to speed up the delivery of a service are also eliminated, and the state budget is relieved of many operational costs. The EU-funded €3.2 million project seeks to help Albania prepare the necessary legal framework, the technical capacity, as well as human capacity to digitalise services. Concretely, the project team is working with the Albanian authorities in three main directions: 1) to prepare the laws necessary to ensure, for instance, that electronic applications for services are recognised by all relevant institutions, that those citizens and businesses are protected from personal data abuse and misuse, etc; 2) to select and develop the software and equipment needed for e-services; and 3) to train a total of 500 public servants to use the new software and equipment to serve citizens. Successful implementation of the project will mean that Albanian citizens will be able to receive their due services without queuing up anywhere, without travelling any distance at all to reach an office, and without bribes. The higher the level of technical sophistication chosen by the Albanian authorities, the higher the level of transparency, accountability and efficiency.

During the Conference, the Head of the European Union Delegation to Albania, Ambassador Ettore Sequi referred to the image that citizens often have of a slow or dormant bureaucracy and pointed out that “E-Government can wake up your public administration”. He noted that “It has become clear, by the leading examples of other countries, that nowadays successful governance is determined to a very large degree by e-services. And that is simply because e-services put the citizens at the centre. E-services are created with your time, resources and mobility in mind”. Ambassador Sequi emphasised one of the main benefits of the digitalisation of services, the cutting of costs not only for the state budget but also for citizens, as, he added, “a computer doesn’t take a bribe”. In order to make progress towards more widespread e-services, Albania must complete work on the legal framework as an indispensible safeguard against abuse. Asking for more vigorous government action to spread the availability of e-services to Albanians beyond e-taxation, Ambassador Sequi also warned of the risk to create or sustain a digital divide, unless both central and local governments invest in information technology infrastructure and computer literacy for citizens all over the country.

For further information, please contact:
Artes Butka
Press & Information Officer
Tel: + 355 4 2228 320, + 355 42 228 479
Fax: + 355 4 230 752
E-mail: artes.butka@eeas.europa.eu
Delegation's website: www.delalb.ec.europa.eu