Dear Colleagues from the British Council
Distinguished participants and winners of the competition, other distinguished participants, colleagues and friends,
I’m deeply honored and delighted to open this event to mark the completion of a very important initiative that we jointly have been involved over the past two years, a competition of civil society organizations for improving the governance in Albania.
I would like first of all to congratulate and thank all the civil society organization which participated in this competition and as a result help improved civil participation in governance. We at the World Bank hope that this initiative and your efforts will serve as an example for others to follow in Albania and in other countries.
The effort of every group represented today and of every individual in this room contributed to the success of this program which is highly appreciated.
Good governance is a very important for the World Bank activities throughout the world, and in Albania. Good governance is about transparency and accountability in decision-making, effective delivery of public services and increasing voice and inclusive development of those affected by decisions. Effectively, good governance even though it seems to be an abstract concept is about improving quality of life, improving the effectiveness of government and improving the capacity of democratic institutions. So, it affects the life of every citizen and that’s why your contribution is so valuable.
At the World Bank good governance is a key, a crosscutting theme in our Country Partnership Strategy that we supported through a number of different activities and instruments. To mention just a few: the World Bank has undertaken an extensive analytical work to assess trends and variety of governance indicators, identify areas of progress and areas where more efforts and improvement is needed. At the project level we are applying what we call a “governance filter” in every project and program we support to make sure that the scarce public resources are used efficiently and to the intended purposes.
We are also engaged in sharing global best practices experiences in improving governance in different countries and promote successful examples in service delivery, accountability mechanisms, financial management processes, and innovations such as e-governance applications. You may have noted from press that recently we hosted together with the government a regional public procurement forum in Tirana which focused on innovation and e-procurement. And this is also part of improving governance.
However good governance is very crosscutting and goes well beyond of what could be done through government institutions. Engagement of civil society, engagement of grass root organizations, and engagement of citizens is absolutely critical. For better governance, citizens need more access to information, budget and local taxes needs to be transparent to those who pay them. Women and young generation needs equal opportunities to set up businesses and to build careers for themselves and their future families. And agriculture policies need to be informed by the views of famers they are supposed to serve. These are just a few examples and it is very impressive that this variety of dimensions of good governance is all represented in this room. Represented by the project you designed, invented and successfully completed.
I would like to thank my colleagues from the British Council for supporting this program and for providing excellent leadership in implementing and monitoring and providing support to every group. I also would like to thank my colleagues at the World Bank who are behind this initiative, and particularly Ana Gjokutaj, my predecessor Camille Nuamah, former Country Manager for Albania, and our Country Director, Jane Armitage.
When this initiative was designed there were a lot of skeptical voices that the topic is too complicated for civil society to come up with good proposals and you proved those skeptics wrong. You proved that creativity, and commitment of civil society have no limit and you set up a wonderful example for others to follow.
I was trying to make a personal effort to follow this initiative to the extent I could. I had the privilege to visit Korca and Bilisht where one of the winning projects was taking place, using a transparent tool of stamps to identify which of the businesses are paying taxes. I visited Fier to have discussions with farmers and take their views on the evaluation of the grant program that the Ministry of Agriculture is undertaking. I was also privileged to attend the launching of the film on the transparency and accountability of Durres municipality.
What was very encouraging was that these initiatives have already direct impact on government decision making because both in case of tax transparency implemented by the Regional Development Agency of Korca and agriculture grant evaluation program, government officials committed to take the results of this work by civil society forward and incorporate them in future government programs. So this is an evidence of the impact you made and there are many others. I wish you a very good and interesting event today, so you can take a broader view of all experiences and lessons learned from each other and demonstrate your impressive achievements.
I would like to thank you again and hope that the spirit of this program will not end today, that you will continue your work on improving governance in different levels in Albania and that you will have many followers across the country and beyond its borders.