OVER ONE MILLION SWISS FRANCS TO STRENGTHEN LOCAL DEMOCRACY IN 18 MUNICIPALITIES
Skopje, December 17, 2019. – As part of the project to empower municipal councils, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has signed a cooperation agreement with 18 municipalities: Centar, Kumanovo, Brvenica, Zhelino, Gostivar, Struga, Kochani, Kavadarci, Mogila, Gjorche Petrov, Tetovo, Krushevo, Vevchani, Zrnovci, Chashka, Bogdanci, Bitola and Berovo.
Through this project, funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, councilors from these municipalities receive training and support in planning and spending municipal budgets according to citizens’ expectations, and each municipality will receive a grant of 50,000 Swiss francs for priority projects chosen by the citizens through Community Forums.
“The project applies a wholistic approach that includes capacity building, financial support and networking to achieve transformational change, meaning that the municipal councils would become more effective and autonomous bodies, be better able to withstand the executive’s influence by properly fulfilling their constitutionally assigned roles of legislation, oversight and representation”, said UNDP Resident Representative, Narine Sahakyan.
„We are very happy to have partnered with UNDP in the endeavor to address the needs for further development of the Municipal Council and provide them with appropriate training, opportunities for networking and professional exchange both nationally and internationally“, said Swiss Ambassador Sybille Suter Tejada.
In addition to trainings for councilors and a grant of 50,000 Swiss francs, each municipality will receive a grant of 12,000 Swiss francs to implement innovative IT solutions to increase transparency and accountability of municipalities, as well as citizen participation in local decision-making.
“The government’s policy of improving the system of local self-government has been clear, and with the activities to deepen the decentralization process in the last six months, has been a hot topic. The ultimate goal is sustainable, effective and efficient municipalities, serving the citizens, which is also the aim of this project. Transparent and accountable work that will always have the citizen in the spotlight”, said Deputy Minister of Local Self-Government, Dejan Pavleski.
“The project provides continuous support to the work of Commission for Monitoring the Development of Municipal Financing System by preparing semi-annual and annual reports on the financial performance of municipalities, which help track the progress of financial decentralization”, said Shiret Elezi, Deputy Finance Minister.
Since 2017, a total of 24 municipalities have been included in the program. In Veles, Sveti Nikole, Chair, Ohrid, Strumica and Valandovo projects to improve social services for the most vulnerable categories of citizens in these municipalities are already being implemented.
The project, worth 3.4 million Swiss francs, is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and implemented by UNDP, in partnership with the Ministry of Local Self-Government, the Ministry of Finance, the Association of Local Self-Government Units, the Association of Financial Workers and UN Women.
Empowering Municipal Councils is a new project designed to increase transparency and accountability in local government by strengthening municipal councils in their functions, particularly in overseeing local budgets. The main aim of the project is to support municipalities in achieving greater openness and inclusiveness, helping to build public trust in local institutions.