Skopje, December 22, 2021 – Local development is an integral part of the progress of the country. It directly affects the improvement of the citizens’ quality of life, which is why all stakeholders should work together to create stronger municipalities, concluded the participants at the Annual Conference on Decentralization and Local Governance, organized by the UNDP.
"The Ministry of Local Self-Government had an extremely successful year, that is to say, with our new Programme for Sustainable Local Development and Decentralization, a new Strategy for Regional Development, a new Law on Balanced Regional Development, we managed to finance 152 seven million euros worth projects in the planning regions and municipalities; whereas, for the next year, we plan to allocate ten million euros for this Budget line, which shall contribute to the continuous trend of constant increase of funds intended for balanced regional development that are implemented through the Ministry of Local Self-Government and the Bureau for Regional Development”, said Mr. Zoran Dimitrovski, Deputy Minister of Local Self-Government.
In her addressing speech, the newly elected President of ZELS, Mrs. Danela Arsovska said that the focus of their work will be oriented towards the continuation of the negotiations with the central government regarding a package of changes related to ensuring greater financial stability of the local government, taking over new responsibilities, as well as changes in the organizational structure in the operation of the local self-government units.
"The number one priority of ZELS will be to provide more funds for the municipalities. It is more than obvious that the local government in our country is poor. Municipalities spend only 4.9% of the gross domestic product. Compared to the municipalities of the countries in the region, not to mention the municipalities of the European Union, these are really negligible resources for the local government. In the future, we must have neither blocked nor poor municipalities, but financially stable and strong local government”, said Mrs. Arsovska.
For almost two decades, through the implementation of projects to support the processes of balanced development and decentralization, UNDP has proven itself as a trusted partner of the municipalities and the regional development centers.
"The projects we have implemented in the recent years, in cooperation with our partners from the local and central government and with the support of the donors, have unequivocally contributed towards creating stronger, more transparent and more accountable municipalities and municipal councils, greater involvement of citizens and civil society organizations in the decision-making process, preparation of documentation for important infrastructure projects at the local level, as well as more efficient tools for local tax collection", said Mr. Armen Grigoryan, UNDP Resident Representative.
At the conference, which this year is on the topic "Decentralization Renewed: Full steam ahead to sustainable development", the mayors were introduced to the 2021–2026 Programme for Sustainable Local Development and Decentralization and the new instruments for financing the municipalities from the central budget.