The institutional labyrinth of measures and the citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic

Recently we received information from citizens regarding difficulties getting in touch or getting accurate information and directions from the institutions through the designated telephone numbers available for crises and other measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of our ongoing activities related to monitoring the COVID-19 crisis and the response of the relevant institutions in creating and implementing of the crisis measures, we tested the availability and functionality of the telephone lines of selected institutions responsible for implementing crisis measures and providing uninterrupted implementation of citizens’ rights on various grounds. From April 2 to April 7, in randomly selected intervals in the period from 10:00 am to 04:00 pm, we contacted by telephone the National Call Center for Economic and Other Measures during the COVID-19 crisis, the Employment Agency of RNM, the State Labor Inspectorate, the Health Insurance Fund, as well as the SOS lines for victims of gender-based and domestic violence. The testing in the specified period has shown that some of the telephone lines are not constantly available, or it is necessary to repeat the calls several times over a long period of time to get an available operator and establish communication to obtain further information.

Considering the declared state of emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic and the constant almost daily renewal and introduction of new crisis measures, we emphasize that the effectiveness of the supportive measures for different groups of citizens depends on the availability, functionality and efficiency of institutions in this crisis period. Therefore, we appeal to the Government and the institutions:

  • In the upcoming period, the announcements for the crisis and other measures for support of the citizens to be accompanied by clear instructions and guidelines for the necessary steps that the citizens should undertake in order to exercise their rights (ex. available and functional telephone contact and email from the relevant institutions, required documents, competent institutions);
  • To enable electronic reporting and registration for the crisis and other measures wherever possible, in order to minimize the referral of citizens to personally visit the institutions in a state of pandemic and emergency;
  • To enable constant availability and efficient informing through the designated telephone numbers of the institutions regarding information and services related to the crisis and other measures for support of the citizens;
  • To publish current information and data on the reports of gender-based and domestic violence from the beginning of the pandemic crisis so that timely monitoring of the situation can be ensured and appropriate measures can be taken to protect and support the victims.

Given the extraordinary circumstances in which we find ourselves, we will continue to monitor the efforts of the institutions and the Government regarding the crisis management caused by COVID-19. We want to emphasize that the effectiveness of all crisis measures will depend on the efficiency and availability of mechanisms for their realization. Citizens should have the opportunity to exercise their rights unhindered, and institutions have the responsibility to ensure straightforward implementation of the measures. We appreciate the commitment of the employees in the public institutions and we would like to express our support for all those who work in extraordinary circumstances to deal with the crisis.

The document is available on the following link.