This two-day event was organized as part of the World Bank-Austria Urban Partnership Program (UPP) aimed to assist and support cities and local governments in South East Europe (SEE) in a process of modernization and reform, in order to promote local development for inclusive and sustainable growth, and enhanced urban governance. This year’s City to City Dialogue welcomed several guests from Eastern Partnership countries (Ukraine and Moldova) which are part of the European Commission Program – Mayors for Economic Growth. It was a unique opportunity for exchange and learning experience beyond SEE region.
The dialogue in Skopje was eight in a series of City to City dialogues and focused on action planning, sharing of good practices and experiences as well as problem solving through peer-to- peer knowledge exchange.
Regional event was opened by H.E. Suhejl Fazliu, Minister of Local Self Government of Macedonia, Linda Van Gelder, World Bank Regional Director for Western Balkans and Gabrielle Janezic, Deputy Head of Mission, Government of Austria. The workshop was attended by over 100 representatives from central government, local government administrations, including Mayors, finance departments, Local economic development officers, urban planners, Local Government Associations, NALAS, NGOs from seven South East Europe countries, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.
UPP experts presented the redesigned Municipal Finance Self-Assessment Toolkit (MFSA 2.0), to be complemented with modernized visual software application that would be user friendly while considering specific revenue and expenditure classifications of different countries in the Region, to be launched in February 2018 as a part of UPP III. Further, main findings of the second Municipal Finance Review (MFR) report were presented by the regional expert. Selected issues of disaggregated finances dataset compilation and usage were discussed by local finance experts. The MFR-II (update) aims to compile disaggregated municipal finance datasets and to analyze fiscal data and indicators across municipalities in the participating countries. It will equip the ministries, local government associations, think tanks and policy researchers with evidences for fiscal planning and for budget negotiations. As a result of the previous MFR-I edition (UPP I), a number of LGAs already developed disaggregated municipal databases (Albania, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro).
UPP Partner NALAS presented the Regional Decentralization Observatory (RDO) that will focus on regional monitoring of the decentralization processes and delivery of public services in SEE as well as develop with partner institutions overall Methodology for SEE Decentralization Observatory. As stated by the NALAS expert: “The success of the annual NALAS’ Fiscal Decentralization Report, as well as the Solid Waste Benchmarking showed that knowing where each of the countries of the region is going in each of the dimensions of decentralization is very important, both for national policy-making, but also for peer pressure and learning from the best practices.” The local autonomy, quality of local public services, citizens’ participation and the role of Local Government Associations are among the dimensions NALAS aims to explore through the Observatory.
Innovative funding opportunities were presented during the two-day event, including crowdfunding campaigns, as an example of alternative financing for regional projects. Mayor of Pregrada presented successful crowdfunding experience “You and me together for the kindergarten” as a good practice from Croatia where the municipality managed to fundraise 121% of the targeted amount. “Except the financial part, crowdfunding is a great tool for testing and promoting good ideas”, said NALAS Knowledge and Communications Manager who presented crowdfunding campaign focusing on Balkan cuisine. “Our ongoing campaign promotes SEE municipalities as unique culinary destinations with rich cultural heritage.”
As part of the C2C Dialogue several panel discussions showcased success stories from the Region. Cities and municipalities of Banja Luka, Rijeka, Kisela Voda, Subotica, Strumica, Gjirokaster, Bar, Zenica, Pregrada, Zapresic, Novi Sad among others had an opportunity to share experiences with their peers from the Region and beyond in order to improve their management and planning.
City of Banja Luka, Bosnia and Hercegovina emphasized the usefulness of the MFSA tool for the improved City management, providing training opportunities for employees, development of databases, increasing transparency. In the city of Subotica, Serbia, MFSA analysis unleashed some weak areas in the process of municipal financial management including: need for improvements in strategic allocation of resources through budget planning aiming at achieving policy goals as well as predictability and control of budget execution with main focus on revenues. The city also went through PEFA assessment which indicated weaknesses in the area of budget based on public policies and reduced share of capital investments. The city focused on: improvements of budget process and following the budget calendar, realistic budget planning, improving capital investment planning, raising credit worthiness and improvements in revenue collection.
Given the progress made on the financial Municipal Improvement Action Plans several cities moved towards Capital Investment Planning (CIP). CIP is recognized as a document of strategic importance that brings together the development strategy and the financial capabilities of the Local Government (LG). The final result of the strategic planning process is a list of potential capital projects that would be implemented in the future. Therefore, CIP draft relies on strategic documents such as: Development Strategy, Sustainable Development Action Plan, General Urban Development Plan, Spatial Plans, Environmental Action Plan, Housing Strategy etc. The CIP enables the LG to better use its budget capacities, define priorities, prepare project documents in a timely manner, and improve access to external sources of finance (loans, donor funds, ministries’ funds and programs, and private equity). Throughout the discussion, UPP cities/municipalities shared their experiences in engaging in full-scale capital investment planning whose rules and procedures vary depending on the level of fiscal decentralization in their respective countries.
Last session of the workshop was dedicated to sharing experiences on Urban Audit by municipalities of Gazi Baba and Strumica from Macedonia and Kucova from Albania. For Strumica, Macedonia the Urban Audit fits very well with the new policy for social inclusion and fair society. It is a credible document that integrates databases from different administrative departments of Strumica. It allows for more structured participation and priorities setting for development of settlements in Strumica. The Urban Audit helped Municipality of Kucova, Albania improve coordination and cooperation of different administrative units of the local government. For Gazi Baba, Macedonia one of the things the Urban Audit supported was to establish better status definition across sectors and thus, once the status was defined it helped improve the municipal planning. It also well related to the anti-corruption “formula” to work better, i.e. more data=more transparency=more accountability=less corruption.
UPP will continue with the C2C Dialogues as they proved to be successful way of gathering the Region around the table and discuss achievements as well as current issues.
Session 2 - Crowdfunding
NALAS Crowdfunding Experience.pdf
Session 3 - MFSA 2.0
MFSA COUNTRY REPORT - Albania.pdf
MFSA COUNTRY REPORT, UPP CITIES MACEDONIA.pdf
MFSA synthesis report.pdf
Savez FBIH MFSA.pdf
Session 5 - MFSA country reports
City of Zapresic.pdf
City of Banja Luka Action Plan.pdf
City of Zenica.pdf
Session 6 - Integrated Urban Planning through ToD
Introducing Integrated Urban Planning through ToD.pdf
Session 7 - Rijeka and Novi Sad, Cultural Capitals of Europe
Cultural infrastructure Novi Sad.pdf
Rijeka - European Capital of Culture.pdf
Session 8 - Urban development Lessons learned under Cohesion Policy in Romania
Urban development Lessons learned under Cohesion Policy in Romania.pdf
Session 9 - CIP
Capital Investment Plan.pdf
Session 10 - MFR
Municipal Finance Review II.pdf
Session 11 - NALAS Regional Decentralization Observatory
SEE Regional Decentralization Observatory.pdf
Session 12- MFSA Action Plans
City of Subotica Action Plan.pdf
Law on spatial planning and construction - Bar Municipality.pdf
MFSA_Municipality of Gjirokastër.pdf
Session 13 - UA
Measuring efficiency at local government level - Marjan Nikolov.pdf
Minicipality of Strumica - Urban Audit.pdf
Municipality of Gazi Baba Urban Audit Experience.pdf
Municipality of Kucove-Urban Audit.pdf
Session 14 - World Bank Creditworthiness initiative (CCI)
City Creditworthiness Initiative.pdf