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Regional Conference “Cities with Integrity”, World Bank - Austria Urban Partnership Program (UPP)

Categories: Events, Regional Conferences | Author: ihasanagic@worldbank.org | Posted: 3/7/2017 | Views: 5089
Belgrade, Serbia: January 29-31, 2017

The two-day Regional Integrity Symposium was held January 29 - January 31, 2017 in the City of Belgrade to culminate the process of strengthening integrity of local governments in South-East Europe (SEE). Integrity of public institutions requires accountability, competence and ethical behavior of leaders who act as reformers and build trust among stakeholders. The participatory process aims to support the trust building and monitoring of the system improvements and leadership behavior inside the local government institutions.

Main objectives of the Regional Integrity Symposium were to discuss how the process helped in building common ground for further work and fostering informal as well as cross-departmental cooperation between participants from different local governments, discuss the challenges that local governments are facing in the areas of governance and leadership, and present other innovative tools used by the UPP as well as other good practices from the Region and beyond.

The event gathered around 80 representatives from seven Western Balkan countries from central and local governments, including Mayors and City managers, municipal staff from different departments, representatives of central government agencies, national associations of local governments from SEE, and civil society organizations, to discuss findings and progress made in carrying out the Integrity Building initiative. Participants had a chance to exchange with their peers and counterparts from other cities and countries, as well as to share experiences and knowledge on integrity building activities and activities for curbing corruption in local self-governments in the region.

Mr. Djordje Stanicic, Secretary General of the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities, welcomed all participants on behalf of SCTM. In his address, he stressed the efforts of the SCTM to raise the awareness of the importance of ethical standards for public officials and staff working in local self-government units, as well as the importance of introducing and improving good management practices at local government level. He said it was essential for all stakeholders, including the national authorities, Local Government Units, independent institutions and civil society organizations to actively use their work to strengthen the integrity of institutions as it is the path to increasing public trust and confidence in the public sector. 

Representative of the Austrian government, Deputy Head of the Mission, Ms. Sabine Kroissenbrunner stressed the importance of the governance/integrity building topic for the EU accession as well as the importance of regional collaboration as one of the most important features of the Program.  She emphasized the need to install trust in public institutions and nurture inclusive societies.

Keynote and honorary guest speaker, Mr. Ronald MacLean-Abaroa, Former four-term Mayor of La Paz, Bolivia, spoke about the measurement of corruption focusing on results. Being corruption just a symphtom, it must be measured by its impact on effectiveness and efficiency of the goods/service provided, and its improvement once anti-corruption actions are taken. These results can be objectively measured, while corruption itself eludes a direct measurement other than perceptions.  He stressed that “results are not just the absence of corruption, but increased effectiveness and efficiency in collecting taxes, raising revenues, and providing more and better services by the municipality, or through outsourcing or PPPs.”  He reminded participants that indirect measures of service delivery are visible in increased revenues as well as citizens' satisfaction.  “Transparency is thus a necessary, not sufficient condition to kill corruption” Mr. MacLean-Abaroa concluded. His presentation was further illustrated by Ms. Ana Vasilache’s presentation on the anti-corruption methodology based on structural institutional reform, instead of the persecution of corrupt individuals.

Further the good examples from cities of Pancevo, Elbasan and Krizevci were shared, and participants had a chance to learn more about experiences from beyond the seven countries, such as from Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative, and countries like Georgia and Romania.

Few of the stories included: 
City of Krizevci, Croatia: Process was successful because (i) many different stakeholders were involved; (ii) all of the strategies and plans were made in synergy with the existing ones, which made them sustainable. This methodology that was later applied to other processes, actually resulted in the City of Krizevci acquiring quality management certificate.

Gazi Baba, Macedonia: Being part of the program helped identify three main areas for improvement in processes: public procurement, employment and transparency. Most important achievements: (i) the manual for preparing tender documentation was created as the result of this process; (ii) annual training and employment plan and organized training for employees; (iii) all of the procedures and plans were published and linked to relevant base (National public procurement registry).

Mayor of Kolasin, Montenegro Ms. Zeljka Vuksanovic, shared that the first thing she had to do as a Mayor was to gain trust of the citizens by being transparent about the situation the municipality was facing at the time and by obeying the laws. Most important achievements: through this process, the municipality of Kolasin has rationalized spending and raised efficiency of its staff.

As part of group discussions of Day 2 participants came up with the joint definition of a vision of the cities with integrity: “Cities with integrity are cities where satisfied citizens enjoy improved service delivery, can use e-governance and digitalization to its full purpose; where transparency, ethical behavior and unified procedures minimize corruptive activities and fully functional legal framework brings about higher trust of investors”.

UPP will continue with the Regional collaboration and exchange as this proved to be successful way of fostering informal cooperation between participants from different local governments, sharing the experiences of local governments in the areas of governance and leadership and presenting collaboration between different innovative tools used by the UPP as well as other good practices from the Region and beyond.

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Strategija Krizevci

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Pancevo MFSA

Tuzla "Klub Potrosaca"

Road to Transparency: Citizen Engagement

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Workshops

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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