In the previous research story, we explained how one needs to obtain a certificate from the municipality in order to get a document from the cadastre, and today we will explain how one needs to obtain a certificate from the cadastre, in order to get a document from the municipality. So, an administrative absurdity, where two institutions ask citizens to prove the authenticity of documents, is something institutions could do themselves if they were connected to a common electronic system. However, this is only the “tip” of the problem, which runs deeper. The blame is transferred from one institution to another and this is paid for with time, effort and money of the citizen, writes Portalb.mk.
The city of Skopje, just like all the municipalities in North Macedonia, is not connected through the electronic system with the Real Estate Cadastre Agency, a central government authority under whose jurisdiction are a large number of services related to property-legal issues. The interconnection of municipalities with this Agency through the interoperability system would facilitate the issuance of certain documents to citizens.
In the previous research story, Portalb.mk showed through specific examples how the mutual disconnection of these institutions exposes the citizens to meaningless administrative procedures and financial costs. Thus, instead of the institutions themselves collecting the data and documents through electronic systems, they oblige the citizens to go door to door to obtain all kinds of certificates and documents. The data provided by Portalb.mk show that even those institutions in the country that are connected through the Interoperability Platform communicate very little with each other.
Portalb.mk carefully followed the procedure for issuing a “Certificate of Correct Address”, a document that proves the correctness of the residential address, in cases where citizens change their place of residence and therefore must update their personal documents. For the issuance of this document, among other things, it is necessary that the property document is no older than six months, because the City of Skopje and the Land Registry are not connected.
Through the concrete example, we will show how citizens are forced to obtain a new property document, no older than six months, just because the City of Skopje does not have access to the Cadastre system to check if there has been a change in the property document in the past period. Apart from time and effort, citizens pay 200 denars each for a new property document that they take out at a notary.
“Certificate of Correct Address”
A resident of Skopje changed their place of residence and therefore had to change their address. In order to make this change, the Ministry of Interior requires a “Certificate of Correct Address” which must be issued by the City of Skopje.
Issuance of this document is carried out in barrack 16 in the Department for categorization, numbering and naming of infrastructure facilities and lasts from 2 to 5 working days. Among the necessary documents, the citizen must pay a tax stamp of 50 denars, and the property document must be no older than six months (its issuance costs 200 denars). So, the total cost is 250 denars [if the property document is older than six months].
Request for Confirmation of Correct address
Portalb.mk asked the authorities of the City of Skopje why it is required that the property document be no older than six months, and they pointed out that this is required because changes may have occurred in the meantime.”This is required because there could have been a change in the rights to the real estate and to the holder of the right to the real estate; change of bond rights (lease agreement, concession, etc.); physical division of the cadastral plot; consolidation of several cadastral parcels and formation of a new parcel”, say the City of Skopje.
According to university professor Dragan Gocevski, the 2015 Law on General Administrative Procedure instructs that if any authority conducting any procedure can obtain any evidence ex officio from any other authority, should do so, and not burden the party with costs.
“However, the special laws are not yet all aligned with the Law on General Administrative Procedure and this creates a dilemma. One of the problems is that the City of Skopje is a local authority, while the Cadastre is a central authority and its services are charged. This is overcome by digitization. Until it is decided by law that the Cadastre, for the needs of the local self-government, will not require payment for providing data at the request of the party, it will remain an obstacle. If the City of Skopje was connected to the Cadastre through some electronic system, there would be no need to request such documents,” says Gocevski for Portalb.mk.
Moreover, Professor Borče Davitkovski, in the previous journalistic story, pointed out that according to the Law on General Administrative Procedure, the authority itself should collect all the documents and not the citizens.
“In our country, according to the Law on Administrative Procedure, when the authorities conduct a procedure, they are obliged to collect all the documents themselves. This is mandatory, but they never work and harass the citizens, and for example, if they come to the municipality, they make them go from counter to counter, take this document, then take that document…” said Davitkovski.
According to Article 7 of the Law on General Administrative Procedure, the procedure must be economical and efficient for the party, that is, it must be as simple and inexpensive as possible:
Why the City of Skopje is not connected with the Cadastre?
The Agency for Cadastre says that they concluded an agreement with the City of Skopje for the use of the electronic counter (e-Kat counter) of the Agency for Cadastre and Real Estate. The contract is numbered 1015-1593/2 dated January 17, 2018.
“Based on Article 3 of the Agreement, through the “e-Kat counter” application, the service user is provided with the following services: submitting a request for registration in the Real Estate Cadastre; submitting requests to receive data from the Geodetic Cadastre Information System (GCIS) in electronic form,” the Cadastre Agency told Portalb.mk.
They add that according to Article 5 of the Agreement, the user of these services may distribute the data received from GCIS, which are the subject of this agreement, to third parties as follows:
- If the party presents itself as a data requester, it is mandatory to fill out the request with its own data, and the service user, when filling out the electronic request for providing data for use by third parties, is obliged to enter the requester’s data in the request.
- The data provider delivers the data from GCIS to the user of the services in an electronic form signed by the Agency for Cadastre and Real Estate with a certificate certified by the authorized issuer.
- The user of the services prints the received data in written form certifies it with their signature and stamp and distributes it to the end user. Those data are public documents and the user of the services is obliged to print them only in one copy.
However, the 2018 Agreement is clearly not enough for citizens not to be forced to certify the changes to their documents in the Cadastre and the City of Skopje.
The City of Skopje says that Mayor Danela Arsovska has emphasized several times the imperative need to provide data for individuals and property owners as taxpayers from the Real Estate Cadastre Agency.
“A request has been submitted to Vice Prime Minister Fatmir Bitiqi to make efforts to obtain data, according to his public appearances. When submitting a request for a Certificate of Correct Address to the City of Skopje, it is also necessary to submit a property document no older than six months, because it may have undergone legal changes on various grounds, and the city does not have data that it shares with the Agency for real estate cadastre for the changes made”, the City of Skopje explains to Portalb.mk.
For the mentioned request, Portalb.mk contacted the Government, which confirmed that on February 17, 2022, a request was received from the Community of local self-government units that the municipalities need data from the public cadastre books. Regarding the request, Bitiqi’s cabinet sent a letter – requesting an answer from, the Agency for Cadastre and Real Estate, in order to explain itself regarding the request of the Community.
“According to the submitted request, the Agency for Cadastre and Real Estate submitted a response to the Community of local self-government units in which they explained the request in detail and also filled it with obligations that the municipalities do not fulfill, in terms of generating relevant evidence or updating data and qualitative data. We also inform you that the request of the Community was considered at the joint meeting organized on 30 March 2022 between the Board of Directors of the Community and representatives of the Government, as well as the director of the Agency for Cadastre and Real Estate”, the Government told Portalb.mk and attached the full response to the Cadastre that was submitted to them.
The Cadastre requires municipalities to pay for the data from the Geodetic Cadastre Information System
According to the response of the Cadastre, which was sent to the Cabinet of Mr Bitiqi, for the services of the Geodetic Cadastre Information System, the municipalities must pay, because its revenues finance the improvement of the systems in order to improve the quality of the services provided by the Cadastre Agency.
According to the response of the Cadastre, the municipalities will have to pay for the services of the Information System for Geodetic Cadastre, because the Cadastre finances the improvement of the systems, in order to improve the quality of the Agency’s services, with its own revenues.
“According to the provisions of the Law on Real Estate Cadastre and the Decree on the use, distribution, access, provision, storage and protection of data from the Information System of the Geodetic Cadastre, a fee is paid for the use and access to GKIS data. There is an exception to this rule when the data is needed for the public prosecutor’s offices, the Bar Association of North Macedonia and the ministries, but also for other entities in cases determined by law”, stated in the answer, which you can read in full in the document below.
Full document: Answer from Cadastre to the Community of local self-government units from Portalb.mk
They say that in terms of continuous harmonization of the state of the real estate register that is subject to tax and which is managed by the municipalities and the city of Skopje, the Real Estate Cadastre Agency based on the submitted requests and the appropriate payment for providing data from GCIS, in accordance with the legal provisions, will submit the real estate data recorded in the real estate cadastre.
The Cadastre informs that municipalities do not keep records of street names
Among the several recommendations from the Cadastre for the municipalities, the Cadastre points out the problems, and some of them were described in the story of Portalb, where among other things it was explained how the citizens struggle in dealing with the administrative bureaucracy after the municipalities change their names due to populism, but they do not update the registers.
According to the Cadastre, most municipalities do not keep records of the names of streets, squares, bridges and other infrastructure facilities, despite the fact that this is required by law.
“During the visit to the municipalities, on whose territory the field activities were carried out, it was established that a large number of municipalities do not keep electronic records/electronic register of the names of streets, squares, bridges and other infrastructure facilities”, says the response of Cadastre.
According to them, data on street names and house numbers are kept in excel or word tables, on paper or no records are kept at all.
“Data collection proves the fact that municipalities do not respect the legal provisions for assigning names to streets, squares, bridges and other infrastructure facilities. There are a large number of unnamed and unmarked streets (marks with street names are missing), a large number of buildings are without house numbers (tables with the number of buildings are missing), there are several buildings with the same number, buildings with double street addresses, etc.”, say the Cadastre.
The Cadastre Agency adds that it organized several workshops to overcome this problem, but the municipalities did not show interest in starting activities related to the data collected from the field.
“The street and house number data must be corrected. They must name the streets for which data has not been collected in the field, and must harmonize the names of the streets in accordance with the electronic evidence of the names of streets, squares, bridges and other infrastructure facilities that they must maintain in accordance with the Law. They must assign numbers to the objects for which no data was found, carry outnumbering and re-numbering of the objects, mark the streets in the field, where they are not marked, mark objects in the field”, it is stated in the recommendations of the Cadastre Agency.
According to them, this causes inconsistencies in the data on addresses in the institutions which, based on their legal powers, are obliged to have regulated data on all addresses, such as the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Agency for Statistics, the Office for Management of Registers, the City of Skopje, the municipalities in North Macedonia, and the Central Registry of North Macedonia.
The digitization of services, although necessary, in North Macedonia is delayed and often hindered by bureaucratic issues of laws and procedures, while technological development and developed countries “run” at high speed. While our institutions deal with “certificates, seals and signatures”, advanced countries are building systems to facilitate citizens’ access to services, saving them time, effort and money.
This research story was prepared as part of the project “Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Agenda – ICEDA”, co-financed by the European Union and implemented by the Metamorphosis Foundation (North Macedonia), the Academy for e-Government (Estonia), the Movement Enough! (Albania), Partners for Democratic Change Serbia (Serbia), NGO 35mm (Montenegro) and Open Data Kosovo (Kosovo).
This research story was prepared with the financial support of the European Union. The content of the research story is the sole responsibility of the Metamorphosis Foundation and the author and in no way reflects the views of the European Union.