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UPP Technical Workshop on Municipal Finance and Urban Audit

Categories: Events, Workshops, News | Author: Maja | Posted: 11/20/2018 | Views: 2703
October 25-26, 2018 - Vlore, Albania

On October 25-26, 2018, in Vlore, Albania, the Urban Partnership Program in collaboration with theMunicipality of Vlore welcomed around 40 participants from Albanian and Macedonian cities and municipalities, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Finance from both countries and from the Albanian Association of Municipalities (AAM), to share experiences, challenges, and best practices with their peers, in a trusting and familiar context.

 

The UPP has been fostering financial management and sustainable urban development, as well as supporting capacity building with a network of local experts in the region, through the Municipal Finance Self-Assessment, the Urban Audit and related tools. In the latest UPP survey, 67% of respondents said that the MFSA helped to improve the financial management of municipalities and 82% that the UPP improved the delivery and quality of municipal services to citizens. The success of the program that has involved more than 80 municipalities and 500 practitioners and decision makers is mainly due to regular interactive workshops and events where experts have the opportunity to exchange best practices and discuss solutions to main issues of local finance and development with their peers from neighboring countries and beyond.

 

The main focus of the workshop was the presentation of the new MFSA V2.0 application to participants after the testing phase and before its official launch. As most of them have already worked on the previous version of the MFSA, presenting the new configuration of the web-based platform, how it operates and what are the benefits for the municipalities using the tool, was greatly appreciated. Participants were given a chance to test the MFSA V2.0 together with local experts and tried to identify aspects that could be improved. The received feedback, comments and recommendations for further improvement of this tool were collected and will be presented during the City to City Dialogue. The MFSA V2.0 application is currently being tested with users, revised and customized, and it will soon befully released and disseminated.

 

Workshop participants were welcomed both by Honorable Dritan Leli, the Mayor of Vlore, as well as Mr. Rama, Deputy Mayor of Vlore. Mr. Leli pointed out how important and positive the cooperation with the World Bank has been for the city, and highlighted the essential role played by these types of technical workshops in improving urban development while Mr. Rama, outlined in his keynote address the most important economic growth priorities for the municipality, which included tourism, infrastructure improvement and PPPs. During the first day, participants had a chance to exchange experiences on common topics such as financial management and integrated urban development, financing capital investment projects and furthering citizen participation and transparency for project selection processes. The workshop was also used as a platform to discuss further integration between the MFSA and UA; e.g. what data/information can be used from MFSA as input to UA and vice versa. Urban Planning experts outlined how the UA evolved from identifying territorial and service deficiencies and needs, to fostering international partnerships and regional networking for LED. This was shown through two best practice examples shared by Municipality of Kucove, Albania, and Municipality of Gazi Baba, Macedonia.

 

 

At the end of the first day, participants had the opportunity to hear about the Urban Lab Participatory approach implemented in Ksamil, Saranda in Albania under UPP. Professor Markus Tomaselli, from the University of Technology in Vienna (TU Wien), explained how undertaking the lab and conducting workshops/surveys/questioners with different constituents of Ksamil, a town that highly depends on tourism with its population increasing tenfold during the summer period, brought to light several new, but very important topics and issues to be addressed.

 

The site visits and field trips to Zvernec provided clear insight into infrastructure development and challenges linked to the local economy. Road investment, sewage treatment plant, Petrolifera, gas power plant are among the most important infrastructural projects for Vlore which will allow better living conditions, but also allow increase in attractiveness to tourists and visitors. As a highlight, participants visited lagoon of Narta and island and monastery of Zvernec as they represent important cultural touristic attractions in the area.

 

The second day of the workshop was opened by Professor Dr. Arben Malaj, Honorary Consul of Austria to Vlore who stated how these kinds of workshops are symbols of the need to shift emphasis to the local level, in order to shorten the distance between voters and decision makers and tackle critical global challenges and address EU. During the course of the day, participants had the opportunity to discuss systems of debt management and financing capital projects. Our UA experts led a group exercise where participants discussed capital projects selection and financial sources. Groups worked on sources of funding for capital projects including PPPs, local government budgets, commercial loans, fiscal autonomy, MSIP and other IFIs, and others. For more information please see the full summary report.

 

Participants were inspired by local best practices in Macedonia and Albania as well as the World Bank MSIP and PIUTD programs where the UPP is supporting municipalities in project selection and application for funds.

 

Once again, the cities and municipalities appreciated the opportunity to share and discuss important issues of joint interest, provide suggestions and support to one another, and to pose questions to the Ministries and LGA representatives in a safe environment.



PHOTO GALLERY

Documents:
Final Agenda - Vlore, October 24-26 2018.pdf

DAY 1
Citizen Enagement in Decision Making - S. Kdolsky.pdf
Citizens Engagement, Fier - R. Hyseni.pdf
Citizens Engagement, Prilep - B. Jankuloski.pdf
UPP Survey review, Workshop - Vlore 2018.pdf
Urban Audit, Municipality of Kucova - Xh. Kostreni.pdf
Urban Audit of MGB for LED OF Municipality Gazi Baba - S. Trajkov.pdf

DAY 2
City of Vlore - J. Puka and A. Paparizo.pdf
PIUTD - Tuo Shi.pdf

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Country Dialogues

July 9-10, 2015 Porec, Croatia

The World Bank in collaboration with the Association of Croatian Cities organized a Country Dialogue on Strenghtening Capacities of Local Governments.  The Dialogue, held on July 9-10, 2015 in Porec, launched the second phase of the World Bank-Austria Urban Partnership Program (UPP II).

The objective of the Country Dialogue was to discuss the current strategic priorities of the respective Ministries of the Government of the Republic of Croatia in the area of local government development and to facilitate dialogue between the two levels of government on how to move the agenda forward on the topics of municipal finances, investments prioritization, asset management, urban governance and integrity building, and social accountability and citizen engagement.  In addition, the meeting provided an opportunity to present the results of the first phase of the Urban Partnership Program and to engage all key stakeholders in the second phase.

The World Bank-Austria Urban Partnership Program (UPP) aims to strengthen the capacity of local governments in SEE region, and to equip local elected officials, city administrators and technical staff with practical tools for decision-making, to effectively manage urban development for inclusive and sustainable growth.  While global in scope, this Program is targeted at the Western Balkan countries, including Croatia.

The workshop was attended by more than 60 representatives from about 20 cities and municipalities, including Mayors and Presidents of the municipalities, members of city and municipal councils, heads of finance, planning and construction, as well as municipal administration.  The meeting was opened by Mr. Vedran Neferovic, Vice President, Association of Cities, Croatia and the World Bank. The meeting was moderated by Dario Runtic, Senior Advisor of the Association of Cities, Croatia and Anto Bajo, WB local expert on municipal finance.

The first day of the Country Dialogue was dedicated to the topics of municipal finance including revenue mobilization, urban planning and land management, capital investment planning, and asset management.

The Municipal Finance session hosted a panel on local government revenue mobilization. Mrs. Nevenka Brkic, Head of financing for local and regional self-government, from the Ministry of Finance pointed out to recent changes in legislation which affected the amount and regional distribution of shared taxes, funding of decentralized functions, and intergovernmental transfers. The presentation provoked a rich discussion among local government representatives, including contributions from Crikvenica, Krizevci and Koprivnica among others.

The local expert stressed that particularly problematic was the collection of tax and non-tax revenues related to the property, such as taxes on holiday houses as well as taxes on inheritance and gifts.

The session further featured presentations from Rijeka and Crikvenica that took part in the Municipal Finance Self-Assessment (MFSA). The representative of Subotica from Serbia shared regional experiences with the Croatian cities. The MFSA helped detect problems at the level of central government, increase LGs borrowing rates from the current 2.5% of operating revenues, increase LGs fiscal autonomy, give more flexibility on the local tax policy (including replacement of conditional with unconditional grants). One of the MFSA outcomes was City of Rijeka Development Strategy.

The session on Urban Planning and Land Management included a panel discussion on Capital Investment Planning at Local Level, with an emphasis on the importance of Public Private Partnerships (PPP). Deputy Mayor of Krizevci presented PPP success story on local level aimed at improving the social infrastructure and economic development by job creation.

Rijeka and Crikvenica took part in the Land Use and Urban Planning Self-Assessment (UPSA) and presented their outcomes, while the experience of Gazi Baba (Skopje) from Macedonia served as regional good example of pilot implementation of the Urban Audit. A number of Croatian cities expressed interest in carrying out an Urban Audit (UA), the first step in identification of a priority investment program.  The Urban Audit helps local governments to assess the greatest needs for investments in infrastructure and service provision, and increase transparency and citizen participation in the process of investments programming.

The last session addressed key aspects of asset management at local level for revenue mobilization, presented by Helena Masaric, City of Opatija. Appropriate management of LG assets is key to economic development of urban and suburban areas. Existing legal framework for municipal asset management in Croatia impairs independent, efficient and economic asset management, which in turn hampers urban development and affects the future of communities.  City of Opatija laid out a number of issues in domestic legislation which limits efficient use of resources (housing, commercial property and land), which in turn affects fiscal stability of municipalities and ability of long term planning. Unsettled property ownership issues are a prime barrier for investments and economic development and for application of municipal projects for EU funding.

The second day of the Country Dialogue was dedicated to the topics of Anti-Corruption and Integrity building and to the demand side of governance – its citizens.

The session on Anti-corruption and Integrity building hosted a representative of the Ministry of Justice who presented Action Plans for implementation of the national anti-corruption strategy.  The presentation was followed up by sharing of good practices from anti-corruption strategic and action planning on local level implemented by UPP Phase I. The initiative aimed to support local governments in developing anti-corruption strategies and action plans, helped improve the capacity of anti-corruption practitioners, enhance networks, knowledge sharing, and exchange of experience on anti-corruption. The local expert presented the methodology while the city of Krizevci that took part in UPP I presented main outcomes of the process.

The session on Social Accountability and Citizen Engagement hosted a number of interesting and innovative approaches including the national e-consult system, Rijeka’s budget planning application (online game) for citizens, as well as crowdfunding projects initiated by the Mayor of Pregrada. The international expert further stressed the importance of social accountability mechanisms that enable citizens to become part of the decision-making process.

The second phase of the UPP aims to scale up use of diagnostic tools for local governments and anchor them as part of the municipal practice. At the same time, UPP II aims to expand the citizen engagement and integrity building agenda.

In the next phase, the World Bank through the UPP is expected to play a more prominent role in the support of local governments of Croatia while pursuing continued dialogue with the central government on key reform agenda.

Download Full Agenda (PDF)

Gallery - Strengthening Local Government Capacity in South East Europe: Urban Partnership Program July 9-10, 2015 Porec, Croatia 

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