Inter-Institutional meeting held to strengthen role of Albanian watchdog institutions

Speeches Shim

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

TIRANA, ALBANIA     On July 9, the USAID Transparency in Health Engagement Project (THE), in collaboration with the Albanian Supreme Audit Institution, the High Inspectorate for the Declaration and Audit of Assets and Conflicts of Interest, and the Office of the Ombudsperson, organized an inter-institutional workshop on strengthening the role of watchdog institutions in monitoring corruption in Albania’s health sector. The event, attended by Cate Johnson, USAID Country Representative, provided a platform for dialogue with civil society and media organizations on how to strengthen good governance principles, increase transparency, and protect public resources from abuse. Six local media outlets covered the event.

The USAID Transparency in Health Engagement Project is a two-year project with a goal to improve health services for Albanian citizens by focusing on improving transparency of government functions and encouraging cooperation among selected independent government agencies, civil society organizations (CSOs) and media to urge for more responsible governance in the health sector.


FULL REMARKS

USAID/Albania Country Representative Cate Johnson
Inter-Institutional Meeting: Strengthening watchdog institutions to increase transparency in the health sector
July 9, 2018, Rogner Hotel, Antigonea Room, 9:30am

Speaker Ruçi, Chairman Leskaj, General Inspector Ganaj, Ombudsperson Ballanca, members of Parliament, representatives of civil society and health care institutions.

The USAID Transparency in Health Engagement Project’s goal is to improve health services for Albanian citizens by encouraging cooperation among independent government institutions, civil society organizations and media to urge for more responsible governance in the health sector. 

To that end, over the past year, USAID has been working closely with the three key oversight institutions represented here today as well as engaging civil society and media in efforts to improve transparency in the health sector.

Well-functioning and independent institutions, and their mutual cooperation and good relations with the media and civil society, are the foundation of a strong democracy based on the principle of checks and balances. These independent institutions, catalysed by civil society and the media, serve as ‘watchdogs’ of public welfare and public resources.

Each institution is dedicated to improving public services for the citizens. Albania’s State Audit Institution has as its mission “to act as an agent of change in the service of citizens and good governance.” The People’s Advocate by its very name is working in the best interest of citizens. The High Inspectorate of the Declaration and Audit of Assets and Conflicts of Interest has a mandate to investigate the assets of public officials who have been elected or appointed to serve the public.

Cooperation and collaboration between the institutions on investigations and data sharing leads to increased scrutiny and higher public pressure for better management of government resources.

As well, making transparent their performance data and producing reports that maximise accessibility of information for citizens, civil society and media to scrutinize, will better expose wrong-doing and will increase public pressure.

All three institutions produce Annual Reports that are necessarily presented to Parliament, however, for a citizen these reports can be rather intimidating due to their length and complexity and therefore the information is not readily “accessible” or “user-friendly”.

To improve transparency and accessibility in reporting it is important to present data, findings, and recommendations in a way that targets citizens as the main audience so they are better informed on government activities that impact their quality of life and can take action to advocate for change.

As well, there is the issue of how the findings and recommendations of the watchdog institutions are taken up by the government entities who are subject to their review. It is a positive sign that this issue has been raised in Parliament and there is a mechanism being put in place that will monitor the uptake of findings and recommendations made by the independent institutions. 

The mechanism should also be accessible and user-friendly for citizens.

Today I look forward to hearing about the key 2017 results of the oversight institutions and the Parliamentary initiative to support their important work in holding government accountable to the citizens. 

Lastly, I encourage a fruitful dialogue between the watchdog institutions and civil society and media organizations who I believe share a common goal in improving transparency, strengthening good governance principles, and protecting public resources from abuse.

Last updated: July 12, 2021

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