Speech of Prime Minister Edi Rama at the meeting “One citizen – an address”, where the project on the national register of addresses was presented:
The truth is that there is no example more meaningful of the profound backwardness of Albania in terms of the state than the fact that Albania is the only country in Europe, and probably one of the few countries in the world that doesn’t have yet to this day any accurate and reliable datum about how many people live in it, how many people live abroad and where do these people outside its territory live.
According to the National Registry Office, the Albanian population amounts to approximately 4.4 million inhabitants. In fact, the truth is that not only we are not familiar with this figure, but we continue talking about a “3 million” Albania by self-diminishing this figure, and when it comes to link it to the residence of each individual, it becomes a mission impossible.
A famous book on the territory by one of the most famous authors in the world for assets and their value, begins by reminding the reader that very often American films begin with helicopters, cars, or radio connections communicating addresses. Then it goes on explaining that actually it is addresses that tell the difference of the states from countries without a state; functional states from countries where the state is dysfunctional. How can a state function seriously and provide equal service to all citizens, if it doesn’t have a serious and complete register of addresses?
Albania is today a country where the migratory flows of the Albanians abroad, and internal migratory flows have almost the same weight. Albanians have moved from Albania towards other countries, as much as they have moved from their former settlements to new ones, reaching for the major population centres such as Tirana, to continue with other cities. This whole movement, totally understandable and normal as a movement brought by the fall of a regime where each movement was planned and forced, was never materialized in a national register of addresses. We are undoubtedly the only country in Europe, and I believe one of the few countries in the world, that took advantage of the historical knowledge to identify ourselves, and we have never created any transparent database accessible to anyone, state or individual, who refers to the registry. In other words, we are the only country in europe where people find a home address by asking other people, and not by means of a system that leads you to that house.
This has been since the first day a duty imposed by the necessity to build the state. Today we are in the 6-month finalizing process of a project launched since the first day and which has been consulted widely, not only with a considerable number of institutions, but also with the best international and local expertise in this field.
There are many examples that can be taken. According to the National Registry of Civil Status, there are 1.3 million families in Albania. If we match the number of the buildings identified as residential buildings with the number of households, it makes 20 people in one apartment, which of course is not possible. Verifying these figures and data cannot be left anymore up to chance, or be a result of new inventions that have paved the way to the wildest imagination, in the many-year long absence of a leadership, of a team, of a program, of a serious governing process to build state in this country.
This system is one of the most faithful reflections of reality face to politics, of the manner of governance and governance results over these 20-something years in this country. Today, Albanians are much more aware than they were three years ago, of the necessity to take their own responsibilities.
What is happening with the distribution system of energy is one of the most meaningful examples of the fact that the citizens of this country are aware and willing to be part of a system, where they rightfully ask to be treated equally, i.e., each according to the level of their liability, and benefit equally from the results of their contributions. Not only have they accepted and fully embraced our new policy according to which some must pay for energy and some other are entitled not to pay for it or to steal it, but everybody must pay for what they consume, and today they are very right to ask for the benefits from the outcome. They are right to ask for a much better service, a much more quality supply, considering that they are paying for energy. Whether they live in downtown Tirana or in the most remote village, they are equal contributors and therefore they ask to be treated equally.
This applies to all sectors. It definitely applies to the sector of taxes. How can we be a more serious country, a functional state, if not everybody pays taxes according to the weight deriving from the profit, hence those who earn less pay less? Everybody has to pay, but how can they pay, if we don’t have addresses? Some result where they are registered, and some other in some other place where they have been registered. How can we serve everybody in an equal manner, if some appear and some don’t in this system, which is the fundamental system to have a functioning state?
In China they know every day the exact population number based on “who died and who was born yesterday”. When I say “yesterday”, I don’t mean “last year”, but I mean “yesterday” every day. They can tell every day you the exact population number. Albania hasn’t been able for 26 years to tell the exact number of its population. This is something unimaginable, but unfortunately real.
The project will make it possible to finally find easily the address for each individual through a unique personal number of every Albanian citizen, as they do in every normal countries that have a normal state. The personal number is issued when the person is born, and it is not valid anymore after the person dies. It cannot be changed, it cannot be confused, two people cannot have the same number, and therefore it is an original brand, unique and exclusive to each citizen.
While being sympathetic to every citizen and to every family for this chaotic situation where they are registered somewhere, their home is registered somewhere else but they live somewhere else, this whole process will be for free for 6 months. We call upon all citizens to be active in this process, to make a direct contribution by providing their data. They shouldn’t listen to the useless words of those who were in charge to do this job, but since they had the mandate to govern but not the head to make a state, they made of Albania a much greater mess than it was when they assumed office. They should listen neither to them nor to anybody else, but rather to the voice of reason telling them that on our path to become a state, we must have a precise system of addresses. Every citizen, every family on their path to development, in order to be safe and in order to get the services they want and deserve, must have their place of residence match the address. It’s not the same when somebody has one home here, and another home in another place. They are homes registered as assets, but the place of residence is where people live.
This process will be for free for six months. After six months, a fee and a fine will be applied. Everywhere in the world citizens are required to communicate their place of residence, but we cannot oblige people about nobody thought over all these years, and ask them to pay for this. It will be for free, the state will pay for it, but only for six months. This is not something that people do at their leisure, if they want they provide the data, and if they don’t want they close the door at the face of those paid by the state to carry out this job on behalf of the citizens. Anyone who doesn’t accept to do this now, not only will do it after six months, but they will even be fined.
Only in doing so, we can move further in our path to make a state. The Minister of Energy explained all direct benefits that people will receive from having their place of residence match the address in the System of the National Register, in view of receiving a much more quality service from the distribution officer. In all the sectors there is absolutely only mutual benefit, both for the state and for the citizen, both for the families and the local government that, through this system, based on the new conditions created by the administrative and territorial reform, will be able to serve much better. On the other hand, it will be much more uncomfortable, in the good sense of the word, because it will deal with registered citizens, and not somebody to whom it can say: go away, for I don’t know you; your address is not here, it’s where you used to live before moving to Tirana, or before you got married, or before you got your new house.
This is a job that will be done with a system launched by the project. Trained people will go door to door across Albania, and it’s very important that citizens be collaborative in order to conclude this process within six months, and people benefit from it for free. In this way neither will we need to spend more from the taxes of citizens to knock again on their doors, nor will those who don’t do this within six months be obliged to pay fines. We cannot pay from the taxes to include in the system of addresses those citizens who refuse to do this for free within six months. We will pay from the taxes, but all the money for those who are late, will be taken from the coffers of their households. We cannot tell citizens who abide by the law and who will respect this process, that they need to pay also for some others who didn’t respect it. It won’t be for free for them.
In order for us not to have any problem with anybody, and for anybody have any problem with this process, everybody must benefit from these six months during which the process is for free, and provide the required official data to those who will know on your doors, so that Albania will definitely be removed during this year from the “bad company” of those countries without a state – not in Europe, but everywhere in the third world – and will become in this aspect a serious country, with a serious state like every serious state that has its own unique national register of the addresses of its citizens.