Active Citizenship and role of local councils in governance of municipalities27.03.2018
Active Citizenship and role of local councils in governance of municipalities
Prishtinë, March 26 - The nongovernmental organization Syri i Vizionit from Pejë, in cooperation with the Association of Kosovo Municipalities and the Chairperson of the Collegium of Mayors of Municipal Assemblies, held a working meeting on “Active Citizenship and the Role of Local Councils in Kosovo.”
The purpose of this meeting was the support and sharing of experiences, good practices of the work of the local councils in several municipalities of Kosovo and the constant support of Syri i Vizionit organization in strengthening the role and institutionalization of these councils, as well as promoting civic activity in framework of the project for development of Active Citizenship in Kosovo.
Heads of Kosovo Municipalities shared their work experiences in amending the municipal regulation and organization of local councils where the work of local councils were highly valued in identifying problems and prioritizing capital investments of municipalities in cooperation with them.
“Local councils and the heads of these councils have helped us a lot in identifying and prioritizing investments in our municipality and in drafting many local policies that had to do in different areas where the citizens’ direct interest is affected,” said Pejë Municipal Assembly President, Islam Husaj, who at the same time is the Chairperson of the Collegium of Mayors of Municipal Assemblies.
Other municipalities that organized elections and selected local councils, such as Gjakovë, Lipjan and Obiliq, also agreed with this assessment.
Meanwhile, other municipalities that did not set up these councils considered it necessary to set them up even though they have adopted the municipal regulation, but did not initiate such a process without identifying budgetary possibilities and institutionalization of incentives for local councils.
“It is necessary to initially institutionalize the form and manner of payment or stimulation of the councils and without this being done as a municipality we have not started such a process, although the regulation has been approved and an election administration commission was created earlier” said Klinë Municipal Assembly President, Fadil Gashi.
During this working meeting it was noted that municipal regulations for organization and co-operation of the Municipality with local councils in villages and urban quarters differs from one municipality to the other, although the administrative instruction has also provided room for the municipalities themselves to draft municipal regulations according to their needs.
However, MLGA officials, present at this meeting, said they were surprised about the changes that regulations have from one municipality to other, particularly the part related to mandate of the councils, the role and responsibilities, the way and the form of stimulation, etc.
“Noting a diversity of regulations, although the instruction is the same for all, we need to make the amendment of the administrative instruction by standardizing the selection procedures and the organization of local councils, where the mandate, the responsibility, the stimulation are also included,” said Mr. Xhevdet Tafa from MLGA.
All those present called for MLGA to advocate with them at the Ministry of Finance where a budget code or a fund that will enable municipalities to stimulate local councils can be created.
Arbresha Demaj of Syri i Vizionit said: “We, as an organization, together with you as municipalities and MLGA will advocate at the Ministry of Finance for identifying a legal possibility for municipalities to stimulate local councils, because if they are not stimulated they can hardly survive or be functional as such bodies.”
According to her, despite the will they have, the economic situation makes it is impossible for them to make the contribution they are required, since they cannot spend from their family budget, but seeing the goods and benefits that the municipalities have in managing in cooperation with them then ways and forms for covering the expenses should be found, she added.
All the participants in this meeting agreed that governance in cooperation with local councils and the active role of citizen is indispensable and it enhances the satisfaction of work and investments of the power and makes institutions more transparent and inclusive.
The work of civil society and Syri i Vizionit in strengthening local councils in Dukagjini Valley municipalities was also highly valued, and it was seen as a good methodology that other local organizations can do in other municipalities.
This working meeting was held in the framework of the “Active Citizenship” program, which is being implemented for several years now by NGO Syri i Vizionit with support from Olof Plame International Center and SIDA, and it focuses on the municipalities of Pejë and Prizren regions.