Annual Conference on Decentralization and Local Governance – a time for opportunity and revisioning
December 13, 2022
Skopje, December 12, 2022 – Challenges and opportunities in times of crisis, fiscal decentralization, linkages between the businesses and the local economic development, the future of the local self-government and EU perspectives are the key topics discussed at the Annual Conference on Decentralization and Local Governance, organized by the United Nations Development Program – UNDP in partnership with the Ministry of Local Self-Government. In his address at the opening of the conference, the Deputy Prime Minister Fatmir Bytyqi referred to the changes in the Law on Financing of Local Self-Governments, according to which a greater percentage of VAT and personal income tax revenues will flow into the municipal budgets.
"The focus of decentralization in short term should be on strengthening the municipalities by improving the financing framework and increasing their competences, enabling a high degree of autonomy. This should not be to the detriment of the citizens, but to their advantage, enabling the fulfillment of their basic rights and not creating difficulties in their daily life. On the contrary, this should make life easier for the citizens, because the municipalities, like all other public institutions, are service to and for the citizens," said Bytyqi.
The Swiss government is one of the most zealous supporters of local governance in the Republic of North Macedonia. The ambassador of Switzerland in the country, Véronique Hulmann, emphasized that decentralization is a complex and sensitive process that requires strong and constant leadership, as well as a clear definition of roles and responsibilities between the central and local authorities.
"The transfer of competences from the centre to the municipal level should be aligned with an adequate transfer of funds on the basis of transparent and fair formula. In turn, municipal authorities should commit to anti-corruption measures, to increased transparency, to enhanced internal control systems and merit-based policies. Successful local self-governance is also measured by the level of participation of all segments of population, including the marginalized groups", said Ambassador Hulmann in her speech.
The United Nations Development Program - UNDP has been working in partnership with municipalities for more than two decades to implement comprehensive measures to improve local governance. It is currently dedicated to supporting local governments in mitigating the negative trends and effects of the current crisis.
"UNDP, as a long-term partner of the country, works both on assessing the conditions related to the local self-governance, preparing recommendations and undertaking specific project activities to strengthen local self-government units in the country to execute all assigned roles and responsibilities. Our entire work at the local level is driven by the paramount goal to build more efficient, more resilient, more accountable, more transparent local self-governance with an ultimate mission to improve the quality of life for the citizens", said UNDP Resident Representative, Armen Grigoryan.
The main goal of the two-day conference is through an open and broad debate to discuss the possible solutions and approaches that will enable the successful in practice implementation of the basic postulates of the Program for Sustainable Local Development and Decentralization 2021-2026, towards building equal, inclusive and resilient municipalities and planning regions.