Seventh City to City Dialogue: From MFSA to City Investment Programming = Urban Audits was organized on December 11-13, 2013 as part of the World Bank-Austria Urban Partnership Program (UPP). This C2C workshop focused on the link between the Municipal Finance Self-Assessment (MFSA) developed as a knowledge product in previous workshops and Investment Programming supported by the Urban Audit (UA) methodology. Four entities of South-East Europe attended the workshop: Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia, altogether about 60 participants, including representatives of Local Government Associations, NALAS, the partner cities, and local and international experts. The municipal staff from some 25 cities and municipalities in the region (including capital cities) took part in this experience and more municipalities have expressed a desire to join in. This C2C workshop culminates the City To City Dialogue Series on Municipal Finances, Urban Planning & Land Management, held between 2011 and 2013: (i) December 2011 – Improving Municipal Revenues, Budapest (Hungary); (ii) May 2012 – Modernizing Local Public Expenditures Management, Mavrovo (Macedonia); (iii) June 2012 – Modernizing Legal and Regulatory Framework for Urban Planning in SEE, Tirana (Albania); (iv) November 2012 – Guided Urban Development: Reconciling Public and Private Interests, Budva (Montenegro); (V) January 2013 – Towards Greater Transparency and Accountability: A Mayors Dialogue, Vienna (Austria); and (vi) June 2013 – From Local Government Self-Assessment to Implementation, Dubrovnik (Croatia).
The participants acknowledged that the MFSA was a very comprehensive diagnostic tool, which helped instil new behaviors and ways of working, promoting better internal local government coordination and cross-cutting communication between municipal departments, and even other State level departments (Treasury and Taxation Bureau). The MFSA was seen as a tool which would influence positively the quality of investment programming at local government level. The MFSA may be a useful tool for donor-financed projects, as it helps enhance the financial performance of local governments and increase the chance to access investment resources from loans. The use of diagnostic/self-assessment tools can greatly improve the preparation, design and prioritization of on-going and new municipal development projects in the SEE region (i.e. Municipal Services Improvement Project/MSIP of Macedonia). Discussions on the Urban Audit focused on (i) the link between territorial planning and investment programming, (ii) the potential support of UA to existing regional requirements (3 year investments plans); (iii) the importance to decentralize issuance of construction permits to the city level to improve spatial planning implementation and supervision; (iv) the more and more sophisticated financial arrangements of the urban development projects, with PPP basis; (v) and the long term period, which generally exceeds local mandate, to implement those projects. The Urban Audit provides an opportunity to carry out a quick multi-sectoral assessment of the level of services and infrastructure in the city and to identify and locate gaps. It is especially useful when the urban audit is conducted in parallel with a MFSA because it is then possible to assess if and how the investment needs can be met. The discussion reinforced the necessity to professionalize identification and programming of the capital investment projects and the benefits of linking the Urban Audit with the MFSA.
The workshop included a site visit to Gazi Baba municipality. The Mayor and the Head of the Local Economic Development Office gave a very comprehensive presentation on the municipality's investment program/CIP carried out on the basis of the MFSA and Urban Audit. They also mentioned that they intended to integrate the tools as part of the regular procedures of city management. The municipality of Gazi Baba has been the first municipality in the Region to engage in an Urban Audit in 2013 as part of the UPP.
Gallery - City to City Dialogue: From MFSA to City Investment Programming = Urban Audits, Skopje, Macedonia (December 11-13, 2013)
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