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.
RAI Work in SEE
Tuzla "Klub Potrosaca"
Road to Transparency: Citizen Engagement