Today, Maria Lucia Amaral presented the general picture of the evolution of complaints addressed to the Ombudsman in 2020, during a hearing on Public Administration, Administrative Modernization, Decentralization and Local Authority, at the request of the PSD.
In response to the deputies, the Ombudsman stated that in the past year, in addition to the increase in complaints in general, there were others exacerbated by the epidemic context and the restrictions it imposed, and also a third group that had just had to do with the epidemic.
In terms of public complaints, Maria Lucia Amaral highlighted two areas of strong growth in 2020 related to complaints related to housing and the rights of foreigners and immigrants.
“These are previous problems, they were already on the rise, but during the pandemic it has grown more,” and in the case of housing it has grown “significantly,” the provider said, noting that it had received complaints from families with significant vulnerabilities. and homelessness, targeting mainly local authorities and the Institute of Housing and Urban Rehabilitation (IHRU).
Maria Lucia Amaral explained that the epidemic has also led to an increase in complaints in areas that have traditionally reached the ombudsman’s office less, specifically in health, education, records and notary services, and this has happened, because in both health and education there are intermediate structures for who can People turn to it.
In the case of education, the focus of complaints was related to difficulties related to distance learning, with the lack of a network in certain areas of the country, with María Lucia Amaral highlighting the “extraordinary work” of local structures in assisting the population, both in terms of food and access to communications .
In previous years, complaints in the field of education that reached the Ombudsman’s office were mainly focused on public employment, that is, complaints of teachers.
Restrictions on public service have also led to an increase in complaints about services provided by registries and a notary, particularly due to delays in responding to business that cannot be done online, with María Lucia Amaral also highlighting complaints by government officials about the conditions work in which they found themselves.
He pointed out, in this context, the need to pay attention to “non-cyclical problems”, but the epidemic exacerbated, stressing that the public administration “is going through a historical turning point”, in which it needs “urgently to attract qualified people.” Young people”, who “at the moment do not at least feel drawn to public administration”.
He said that “no country thrives without effective public administration and stable leaders of sufficient dignity”.
2020 also saw an increase in complaints about issues related to the pandemic, namely with access to exceptional support created and delays in response, which in many cases were due to deficiencies in the exchange of data between the Tax and Social Affairs Department. protection.
“We had a lot of complaints about the delays [os apoios] Reach people”, because “the shortcomings that existed before are becoming more severe” and the data required was not up to date, and given the incomplete Social Security records about the presence of debt, people did not have access to support, and they needed the provider.
Maria Lúcia Amaral took the opportunity to notice the difference between the IRS, Customs and Social Security in terms of digitization.
“In digitization, we find diversity in public administration that cannot be tolerated,” he said, referring to the difference, in terms of modernization, between the inclusive state and the supporting state.
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