Kosovo municipal leaders focus on transparency at PASOS project workshop

September 13, 2016

 

Municipal leaders gather for a workshop on government transparency in Kamenicë, Kosovo.

Municipal leaders gather for a workshop on government transparency in Kamenicë, Kosovo.

A group of 30 municipal leaders from a town in Kosovo gathered for a workshop on how they can improve transparency and boost public participation at the local level, as part of a PASOS project on open government.

The July workshop in Kamenicë, a town of about 35,000 in the east of Kosovo, was made possible through Advocacy for Open Government, an EU-funded PASOS project to encourage governments in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia to become more transparent.

The program awarded a 2,000 Euro grant to the Network of Peace Movement (NOPM), which organized the workshop for their project ““Increasing and enhancing municipal transparency and accountability in local government.” The Riinvest Institute for Development Research, a PASOS member in Kosovo that is a partner in Advocacy for Open Government, oversaw the grant process that resulted in the award to NOPM.

“The aim of the workshop was stress the role and responsibility of municipalities to be transparent, make information accessible to the public and to ensure that the municipal decision-making process is transparent and accountable.” NOPM said.

The workshop covered regulations on transparency, website maintenance, accountability and access to official documents. In addition, best practices from municipalities on transparency and accountability were presented, discussed and shared among the participants.

During the workshop, the participants had an opportunity to raise and address various concerns and issues related to transparency and accountability, including budget hearings and public discussions, information on budget expenditures and citizens’ suggestions and proposals which are not taken always into consideration.

“The workshop discussions also served as an opportunity to ensure support for the project, as well as to introduce the concept of open government to the participants, which is mainly for the mayor, deputy mayor and municipal directors of the departments, as well as elected representatives including municipal assembly chairperson and MA members,” NOPM said.

Participants also generated a list of challenges and recommendations, as follows:

Challenges

  • Inactive citizenry in the municipality
  • Lack of participation of citizens in municipal affairs
  • Failure of municipal authorities to incorporate and take into consideration all suggestions, proposals and requests arising from citizens during the various public meeting
  • Inclusion of citizens in the decision-making process
  • Increase the number of requests for access to official documents
  • Enhance the municipal reporting on budget and auditing issues
  • Lack of information on budget expenditures
  • Inefficient flow of information and coordination of activities among municipal officials

Recommendations

  • Action plan on transparency for 2016 to be revised
  • Increase the number of informative meetings with citizens, especially with non-marginalized youth and women, and non-majority communities during the budgeting process
  • Public meetings and budget hearings should be organized in close cooperation and coordination with civil society organizations and interest groups
  • Municipality should draft an action plan in cooperation with civil society organizations for public meeting, budget hearings
  • The annual report of the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) for Kamenicë/Kamenica to be public for citizens
  • Municipality should draft an action for implementation of recommendations deriving from the annual report of the Office of the Auditor General (OAG)
  • Public meeting, debates, consultations and budget hearings should be organized more in open spaces and rural areas avoiding municipal premises
  • Adequate share of information and coordination of activities among municipal officials as well as their dissemination to general public

NOPM is holding other events as part of the project, including a one-day training on good governance, transparency and accountability at the local level, and a Municipal Open Door Day to give the public an opportunity to meet with their local representatives.

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