Hundreds of blind people in Fier town have remained without electrical power because they have not paid the bills. The head of the Blind People Association, Festim Manaj says that they have not received the payments for their disability since three months ago and due to this they have not paid their obligations for the electricity, at a time that the director of OSHEE, Arjan Faskaj declares that they are implementing the decision of the government for the debtor families.
By Arben Velo
The interruption of the electricity, as a punishment measure from the side of the Electrical Energy Corporation (OSHEE) has affected around 100 Roma families in Fier region, families which belong to the Blind People Association. But as a paradox, at a time when it is the state itself which executes the payment of disability and economic aid towards those families, it is again the state that punishes them by interrupting the supply with electricity of the above mentioned families, without considering the fact that these families have not received the payment during the last three successive months.
Tens of families are punished these days with the measure of electricity interruption because they result to be debtors on the treasury of the OSHEE at amounts ranging up to 50 thousand new ALL. According to the representatives of the Association of the Blind People in Fier region, many families have not received their disability payment for the last two or three months yet. Faced by this phenomenon and due to the fact that this is the only payment that ensures the family economic wellbeing, they do not have any possibility to pay back the bills that register their monthly consumption.
Head of Blind People Association, Festim Manaj
The delays in most of the cases are justified with the transfer of the files for the re-commissioning of the people who were commissioned before the year 2000. The order from the Social Service issued some months ago obliged the local government units to send their files in Tirana. But it brought up the interruption of the payment for the blind people that have been commissioned before the year 2000, as many of the files remained in the departments of the capital city to be reviewed after some months of delays. As a result of that the socio-economic situation of the families who were affected by this process was aggravated.”It is almost three months that I have not been paid. Along with me there are many others. This has brought the impossibility on paying the other services that we owe to the state as taxpayers such as the electricity, water, telephone etc.” – declares the head of the Blind People Association in Fier region, Festim Manaj. He admits that there are 800 families in the Fier region out of about 3,000 members of the association that suffer delays in the payment of the economic aid. “On one hand it will be good if the state gives solutions to the problems that have arisen from the non-payment of electricity, but on the other hand the state should pay those persons, whose the only source of income is this social payment” – emphasizes Manaj.
In such conditions, the head of the blind people in Fier makes an appeal to the respective state institutions to find solutions for this difficult situation with which the people with disabilities are confronted. “Our dignity is going down and down. I do not know if they have at least, even though they miss the consciousness, humanism these people??. There are many families that cannot bring their children at school; they are families that are full of debts. Our lists have become as facades to cover the building of the Prime Minister and that of Minister Veliaj. That’s why I am calling the Ministry of Finance. Do not play with the blind people. The hunger does not strike only those that are hungry but above all those that cause it, that’s why do not play with us – appeals Festim Manaj.
The Social Service Directorate in Fier municipality has not executed the disability payment for the people whose files have been sent to the Commission for the blind people in the capital city. Even though in the whole country, since July, the General Directorate of State Social Service has ordered to not interrupt the payment for the citizens that are waiting to get the Booklet for being blind after the reviewing and re-commissioning of their files. According to the director of the State Social service in Fier region, the Fier municipality is the only one which has not done the payment based on this order. “Nevertheless, there is not any violence committed by the municipality and the social administrator of this local unit. Since July, this is an ongoing process in the whole Albania and an order was issued to not block the fund for all those whose files were taken with a commissioning form from the regional KMCAP. But there are still problems in Fier municipality”, says the director of State Social Service, Alba Stefa.
There are about 200 blind people in Fier municipality whose files are waiting to be re-commissioned. The director of the Social Service office to this local unit, Agron Margilaj, declares that the re-commissioning of the files issued before the 2001 will be done based on a graph prepared by the Ministry of Social Welfare, which has sent the list in this office. “We have prepared the documentation and we will submit them to the Commission for the Blind People in Tirana. The dates are planned by end of December and beginning of January. There were some problems in November and the delay on these payments has come due to lack of balancing of the funds with the Ministry of Finance, which has brought lack of money for some days. Today the respective fund from the Ministry arrived at the Treasury Office and we hope that the transaction will take place from the Treasury to the banks where they can withdraw this money by tomorrow”, he admits. Margilaj also adds that they have not sent the files in the Commission for the Blind People yet, but according to him there must have been any delay which has come up due to lack of the booklet on the blindness of these people from the above mentioned commission.
Director of the Social Service in Fier municipality, Agron Margilaj
On regard to the electricity bills, Margilaj says that the people with disabilities have benefitted the compensation that they deserve every month and they must not have left these bills unpaid. “The payment of the electricity for the disabled people of the first and second group has been compensated every month and it is illogical to me that they have not paid the electricity within the deadline set in the contract. I am really surprised to the fact that there are people who have not paid the electricity for some months at a time that they have been compensated from the state every month”, declares the director of the Social Service office in Fier municipality.
The director of the regional OSHEE, Arjan Faskaj accepts the fact that they have interrupted the electricity for tens of families, members of the Association of Blind people that are debtors towards the branch of OSHEE that he directs. “We are continuing the operation of electricity interruption for all those clients that result to be not correct and debtors to the treasury of OSHEE. To the process of verification, checking and interrupting of electricity were undergone even the families that live in the block of flats rented by the municipality. They are debtors and we respect the law and decision of the Council of Ministers”, declares the head of Fier OSHEE, Arjan Faskaj.
But there are a series of procedures such as the delays in the completion of the files for the re-commissioning on getting the Booklet of being Blind, that bring the lack on payment according to the law for this category of people in need. Even though, there are the state institutions that bring these bureaucracies by making their lives even harder, today hundreds of blind people in the whole country find themselves helpless to succeed on paying the dear bills, not only those of the electricity, but even those of many other daily needs.
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